1938 - 2014

Nancy Garden was born on May 15, 1938 in Boston, MA. As an only child, she credited her parents with instilling in her a love of books and storytelling. After originally considering a career in theater, Garden earned her Bachelors and Masters Degrees from the Columbia University School of Dramatic Arts. She later taught school and worked as an editor of children's literature. Garden published her first books at age 43 in 1971: What Happened in Marston, about racial violence, and the nonfiction title Berlin: City Split in Two. A prolific novelist, she published at least one book every year until 2012. Garden explored and mastered every facet of children’s literature: picture books, middle-grade fiction, young adult, and genres from horror to humor to historical. Some of her 36 titles include Watersmeet, Endgame, Dove and Sword, Holly’s Secret, The Ghost Inside Me, and The Door Between. When asked about her motivation to write for young people Garden said, “I think kids in every minority need to see people like themselves in books – that’s an acknowledgment of their existence on this planet and in this society.” Throughout her career Garden received dozens of awards for her work. Indeed, she was nominated for a Lambda Literary Award every year for ten years. Though she did publish one adult lesbian novel, Nora and Liz, Garden is best known for her 1982 young adult novel, Annie on My Mind, the story of two high school girls, Liza and Annie, who meet at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and fall in love. The frequently banned book was one of the first written for teens to feature lesbian characters in a positive light; as a result, it became the novel all lesbians wished they’d had as teenagers. Garden and her partner Sandy Scott, along with their animals, spent many years dividing their time between Massachusetts and Maine. She died of a heart attack at her home in Carlisle, MA on June 23, 2014, at age 76.


Gender Female

Sexual Orientation Lesbian

Gender Identity Cisgender

Ethnicity Caucasian/White

Nations Affiliated United States

Era/Epoch Information Age (1970-present)

Field(s) of Contribution



Commemorations & Honors

Lambda Literary Award for Children's /Young Adult Fiction

Robert B. Downs Award for Intellectual Freedom Recipient (2001)

ALA Margaret A. Edwards Award for Annie on My Mind (2003)

Annie On My Mind Awarded the Lee Lynch Classic Award by the Golden Crown Literary Society (2014)


Original Biography Author
Owen Keehnen
Biography Edited By
Victor Salvo
Resources Coordination
Carrie Maxwell