John Bellairs lived and worked in two diverse regions of Illinois.


First, there was Chicago.  Large, loud, lavish, and where Bellairs could intermingle within the 1960's college subculture. A frequent visitor to the city during his undergraduate years, Bellairs committed to the University of Chicago to further his education.  He earned his master's degree in 1960, and then began a descent into academia and attempting a dissertation.

Between classes and teaching, Bellairs toured the city with his friends and often entertained them with stories.  Among them was one about an imaginary saint named Fidgeta. He remained enrolled in classes for the next three years before taking a two-year position in Minnesota (1963-65).

During his stay in Minnesota, the Marilyn and Dale Fitschen combined Bellairs's text about Fidgeta with Marilyn's illustrations and got the resulting article published, much to Bellairs's surprise. When Bellairs returned to Chicago, ready to complete his thesis, there was already burgeoning interest in more short pieces – enough to make a book.  Macmillan published Saint Fidgeta and Other Parodies in 1966.


Bellairs lived in various places near the University of Chicago:

Mount Carroll

Bellairs returned from Minnesota to the University of Chicago after the spring 1965 semester.  A year later, he accepted another teaching position in Mount Carroll. This quiet community in the northwestern corner of the state was home to Shimer College and where Bellairs would teach for the 1966-67 school year.  While he seemed to enjoy the idyllic environment, he unfortunately arrived at a critical crossroads in the college's history, which came to a head during his brief tenure.  Either unhappy at the prospects of teaching here or disinterested in furthering perusing a doctoral degree  – or both – Bellairs resigned from Shimer College before the end of the first semester and left for greener pastures the following spring.

By June of 1967, Bellairs was already planning for an extended stay somewhere in England.  When he left Illinois this time, he said good-bye to the Midwest for good, eventually finding new successes in New England.

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