Biography of Christopher Paul Curtis

Christopher Paul Curtis is an American author of children’s fiction best known for his books The Watsons Go to Birmingham - 1963 and Bud, Not Buddy.

Curtis was born on May 10th, 1953, in Flint, Michigan; he was the second of five children and his father was a doctor. After high school he worked on the assembly line of the Fisher Body Plant/Flint Plant No.1. He attended the University of Michigan. Curtis began writing while working the arduous job at the factory, and decided after thirteen years of it that he would finally take time off to write his first novel. He told interviewer Jennie McDonald, “As far back as seventh grade I always imagined that, if given the chance, I’d be able to write my way out of anything. I wasn’t driven to write, probably because if I didn’t succeed at it I’d feel terrible, but I can remember being nine or ten years old and telling my brother and sisters, ‘One day I’m going to write a book and make a lot of money.’ It’s burned into my memory because of the many days of ‘affectionate joking’ and vicious character assassination that rained down on me for the ridiculous remark.”

The Watsons Go to Birmingham - 1963 was published in 1996 and garnered a Newbery Honor and the Coretta Scott King Honor book citation. Bud, Not Buddy, published in 2000, also won those two awards. Curtis’s most recent book, Elijah of Buxton, also won the two aforementioned awards as well as the Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction in 2008. Curtis never returned to the factory and devotes himself to writing and speaking full-time. When asked why he writes, he told BookBrowse, “I write because I love to. I'm very, very fortunate to have found something that I love doing that also earns my living. But to be honest, I'd write even if I weren't being paid to (don't let my publisher know!). Writing has always been a sanctuary or a refuge for me, any time I'm stressed or anxious or worried I find that a couple of hours expressing myself by writing always seems to have a calming effect on me. I'm sure there's some philosophy that says one of the best ways to deal with any of your problems is to take a deep breath and step away from them for a while, writing does this for me.”

Curtis is married to third wife Habon Aden Curtis and has four children; they live in Detroit, Michigan.

Study Guides on Works by Christopher Paul Curtis