Bette Jean (Evensky) Greene

June 28, 1934 to October 2, 2020 (86 years)


Bette Jean (Evensky) Greene was a successful novelist, journalist, and screenwriter. She was the author of several books for children and young adults, including Summer of My German Soldier, The Drowning of Stephan Jones, and the Newbery Honor book Philip Hall Likes Me, I Reckon Maybe. Her most noted novel, Summer of My German Soldier, is widely read and was made into a television movie. Greene’s books focus on themes of injustice and alienation. She has received the Golden Kite Award, ALA Notable Book Award, and Newbery Honor.

Bette Jean Evensky was born on June 28, 1934, in Memphis, Shelby County, Tennessee. She grew up in Parkin, Cross County, Arkansas, where her parents Arthur Atkins Evensky and Sadie (Steinberg) Evensky ran a general store. Her maternal grandparents Hyman and Tille Steinberg also operated a general store in the nearby town of Wynne.

As a Jewish girl growing up in the south during the Great Depression and World War II, Bette’s experiences later inspired the themes of injustice and alienation in her books. With her parents busy running their store, the family's African-American housekeeper raised Bette, Ruth. Ruth would later become the character of the same name in Bette’s debut novel, “Summer of My German Soldier,” published in 1973.

Around the time Bette started high school, her family moved back to Memphis, Tennessee. Despite receiving poor grades in English due to her difficulties with spelling and punctuation, she won first prize in a local essay contest. After graduating from high school, Bette spent a year studying in Paris, France. This experience would later serve as the background for “Morning Is a Long Time Coming,” her 1978 sequel to “Summer of My German Soldier.”

When Bette returned to the United States, she became a reporter for United Press International (UPI). She enrolled at Columbia University in New York City, where she studied writing and astronomy. After graduating, she worked part-time as a journalist and public information officer.

Bette married physician Donald Sumner Greene, and they moved to Boston. They had two children together. After their children were grown, Bette wrote “Summer of My German Soldier.” It took her five years to write the book, which was rejected by publishers sixteen times before it was finally accepted for publication.

Bette Jean Evensky passed away on October 2, 2020, in Lakewood Ranch, Florida. She will be remembered for her contributions to literature and her inspiring story of perseverance and determination.

This page was last modified on 2023-12-22T03:38:02 by admin