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About John Bellairs

John Bellairs
John Anthony Bellairs (1938-1991) is the best-selling author of fifteen acclaimed Gothic mystery novels in the Lewis Barnavelt, Anthony Monday, and Johnny Dixon series, including The House with a Clock in Its Walls (1973), The Treasure of Alpheus Winterborn (1978), and The Curse of the Blue Figurine (1983). He also is the author of Saint Fidgeta and Other Parodies (1966), The Pedant and the Shuffly (1968), and The Face in the Frost (1969), a comic fantasy novel starring wizards Prospero and Roger Bacon.
Bellairs was born January 17 in Marshall, Michigan, and attended Saint Mary's Catholic School. He later graduated from Marshall High School in 1955.

In South Bend, Indiana, Bellairs's interest in English literature blossomed, and he became a member of various literature clubs. During his senior year, he wrote a series of humor articles for the student-produced weekly newspaper, the Scholastic. Bellairs became a minor celebrity when he and four other students appeared on the G.E. College Quiz Bowl program in March 1959. During their first appearance on the program, Bellairs recited line after line of the Prologue to the Canterbury Tales in perfect Middle English. A Woodrow Wilson Fellow, Bellairs graduated Magna cum laude and moved to Chicago, after which he shortly earned a master's degree in English from the University of Chicago.

In 1963 Bellairs began his teaching career, first in Winona, Minnesota, at the College of Saint Teresa and then as a Humanities faculty member at Shimer College in Mount Carroll, Illinois. After teaching in Illinois for only a year, Bellairs moved overseas to live and write in Bristol, England, for six months. Upon his return to the United States in 1968, Bellairs relocated to Massachusetts, married Priscilla Braids, and began teaching at Emmanuel College in Boston.

After a two-year teaching post at Merrimack College in North Andover, Bellairs hit it big with the publication of his young-adult masterpiece, The House With a Clock in its Walls, a supernatural thriller starring the portly Lewis Barnavelt, Uncle Jonathan Barnavelt, and their neighbor Florence Zimmermann. Two sequels, The Figure in the Shadows (1975) and The Letter, the Witch, and the Ring (1976), quickly followed.

House, and a later book, The Treasure of Alpheus Winterborn, were adapted for television in the early 1980s. During this decade, Bellairs wrote nine books, many focusing on Johnny Dixon and Professor Childermass's exploits in and around New England, including The Spell of the Sorcerer's Skull (1984) and The Revenge of the Wizard's Ghost (1985). Another set of characters - Anthony Monday and Miss Myra Eells - also fought supernatural battles against wizards and warlocks in rural Minnesota, as seen in The Dark Secret of Weatherend (1984) and The Lamp from the Warlock's Tomb (1988). Prominent artist Edward Gorey illustrated most of these books.

Bellairs died on March 8, 1991.

The following year, Marshall, Michigan honored him with a historical marker outside the Cronin House, the famed residence serving as inspiration for The House with a Clock in its Walls. In 2000,  the Haverhill, Massachusetts, Hall of Fame inducted Bellairs into their Hall of Fame, and in 2008 that city unveiled an outdoor mural celebrating the author.

His characters live on in the completed and continued works by author Brad Strickland

In 2018, Universal Pictures adapted The House with a Clock in its Walls into a major motion picture starring Jack Black, Cate Blanchett, and Owen Vaccaro.