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Shel Silverstein (American, 1932-1999)


Birth Place: Chicago (Cook county, Illinois, United States)

Sheldon “Shel” Silverstein was an American poet, singer, songwriter, cartoonist, and writer of children’s books. He was born in Chicago in 1930 and died of a heart attack in 1999. After getting expelled from the University of Illinois, Silverstein was drafted into the Army and served in both Japan and Korea.

In 1964, one of his most famous stories, The Giving Tree, was published after much difficulty. Publishers liked the story but were troubled by its sad ending. The book is still popular today. Silverstein’s first collection of poetry, Where the Sidewalk Ends, was released in 1974. His books have sold over 20 million copies.

An accomplished writer, Silverstein also illustrated his books. He won a Grammy for 1970’s “A Boy Named Sue,” and was nominated for an Oscar and Golden Globe for the song “I’m Checking Out” from the film “Postcards from The Edge.“

He had a great sense of humor and was a well- known contributor to the Dr. Demento radio show, performing such favorites as “Sarah Cynthia Silvia Stout (Who Would Not Take the Garbage Out).” His songs were performed by Marianne Faithful, Bobby Bare, and Belinda Carlisle, spanning the decades from the 1970’s to 2000’s.

Not many are aware of the fact that Silverstein himself was a book collector. He cherished the look and feel of a good book. Silverstein would not allow his own writing to be published unless he selected the size, shape, and quality of the paper. For this reason, many of his works are not available in paperback.

A multi-talented artist and writer, Shel Silverstein, continues to bring joy and laughter to the American people. Silverstein’s works are loved by millions, spanning many generations.

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