Richard “Dick” Jackson, one of the most influential figures in the history of children’s books, has died at his home in Towson, Maryland. He was 84. An early supporter of the SCBWI, Mr. Jackson was a frequent speaker at our national conferences.
Beginning his career in production at Doubleday, he caught the attention of legendary editor Frances Keene and took a position as an Associate Editor at Macmillan. From there he went on to co-found Bradbury Press where he nurtured an impressive list of authors and illustrators including Judy Blume, Arnold Lobel, Avi, and Paula Fox. In 1986 he founded DK Ink and in 1996, Orchard Books. Then, in 1999, he became Editorial Director of Richard Jackson Books (Simon and Schuster). As a testament to not only his skills as an editor but as a friend and mentor, many of his authors and illustrators followed him as he moved from house to house. As an editor or publisher, the books he oversaw won countless awards including a National Book Award, 16 Newbery or Newbery Honors, and 5 Caldecott or Caldecott Honors. In more recent years he became an author himself, writing a number of books for children including In Plain Sight (2016)(Roaring Book Press/Neal Porter imprint), illustrated by Jerry Pinkney, which received a 2017 Coretta Scott King Honor for illustration.
In mourning the passing of this remarkable individual, SCBWI Executive Director Lin Oliver, commented that, “He profoundly influenced children’s literature, discovered and supported many of the most influential talents in our field, and was elegant, kind and beloved.”