Beverly Cleary was born Beverly Atlee Bunn in McMinnville, Oregon. When she was 6, her family moved to Portland, Oregon where she attended school. She was slow in learning to read, due partly to her dissatisfaction with the books she was required to read and partly to an unpleasant first grade teacher. It wasn't until her third grade year that she found enjoyment from books, when she started reading The Dutch Twins by Lucy Fitch Perkins. Thereafter, she was a frequent visitor to the library, though she rarely found the books she most wanted to read -- those about children like herself.
She moved to California to attend the University of California, Berkeley, and after graduation studied at the School of Librarianship at the University of Washington in Seattle, where she earned a B.A in librarianship. Her first job was as a librarian in Yakima, Washington, where she met many children who were searching for the same books that she had always hoped to find as a child herself. In response, she wrote her first book, Henry Huggins, which was published in 1950.
In 1940 she married Clarence Cleary and moved back to California. The Clearys became parents to a set of twins, Marrienne Elizabeth and Malcolm James, in 1955. She currently lives with her husband in Carmel, California.
She has also written two auto-biographies, A Girl from Yamhill and My Own Two Feet.
Her books are available in 14 languages in over 20 countries. She has won many awards, including the 1984 Newbery Award for her book Dear Mr. Henshaw and the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award in 1975. The Hollywood branch of the Multnomah County library, near where she lived as a child, has created a map on their lobby wall of Henry Huggins' neighborhood. A statue of her beloved characters Ramona, Henry Huggins and his dog Ribsy can be found in Grant Park in Portland, Oregon