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A Fuse #8 Production
Inside A Fuse #8 Production

Press Release Obit: Donald J. Sobol – Creator of Encyclopedia Brown

In the fall of 2011 I was contacted by the Oberlin Alumni Magazine. Oberlin had been my #3 choice of college when I was a high school senior and I wondered in the vaguest sense if they were going to try a new pitch on me. Nothing doing, they simply wanted to get a quote regarding the man who might be their most famous children’s literature graduate (not that Barry Deutsch is anything to scoff at) Donald J. Sobol. Naturally I was honored to be asked, and thrilled to discover he was a real guy and not some Carolyn Keene/Erin Hunter conglomerate of writers. You can read a fair account of his history in that same article Donald Sobol and the Case of the Elusive Mystery Writer. And here, from Penguin, is a lovely obituary for the man who passed away last Wednesday.  Note the role New York Public Library had (albeit inadvertently) in the creation of Encyclopedia.  I am very honored that the family has asked that donations be made to NYPL as well.




Creator of Encyclopedia Brown


Celebrated children’s book author Donald Sobol passed away Wednesday, July 11th. He was 87 years old.

Donald J. Sobol was the author of the popular Encyclopedia Brown children’s book series, featuring amateur sleuth Leroy “Encyclopedia” Brown. Sobol wrote the first book in 1963. The series went on to become a staple in classrooms and children’s libraries across the country.  It has been translated into 12 languages and has sold millions of copies worldwide. 2013 will mark the 50th anniversary of the Encyclopedia Brown series. Sobol’s latest Encyclopedia Brown adventure, Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of the Soccer Scheme, will be published in October of this year.

Don Weisberg, President, Penguin Young Readers Group, said, “Thanks to Donald, generations of children have learned to read and solve mysteries alongside Encyclopedia Brown, one of the most iconic characters in children’s literature.”

Steven Meltzer, Associate Publisher, Dutton Children’s Books commented, “I will truly miss Don Sobol. He was a generous writer who shared with boys and girls a lasting legacy of childhood. In the years I have worked with Don I have met people from all walks of life who have fond memories of his Encyclopedia Brown books and now share them with their own children and grandchildren. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his wife, Rose and their family.”

Donald J. Sobol was born in New York City in 1924. He served in the Army Corps of Engineers during WWII. After the war he began his career as a copywriter at the New York Sun, where he eventually worked his way up to reporter. Sobol began writing mysteries in 1957. The idea for Encyclopedia Brown came to him when he was researching an article at the New York Public Library and a game book was handed to him in error by a desk clerk. The book had puzzles on one side of the page and solutions on the other. He thought why not write a mystery series with the same sort of premise. The Encyclopedia Brown books would eventually earn him an Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America in 1976. Sobol authored more than 80 books.  He is survived by his wife, Rose; a sister, Helen; three children Diane, Eric and John, and four grandchildren, Gregory, Bryan, Lauren and Nicholas.

The family has asked that donations in his memory be made to The New York Public Library at Check donations can be mailed to The New York Public Library, 476 Fifth Avenue, Room M-6, New York, NY 10018, payable to The New York Public Library. Please note “Donald J. Sobol” in the memo.

Penguin media contact:

Shanta Newlin

212-414-3630 /

About Elizabeth Bird

Elizabeth Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.


  1. Some of my fondest childhood reading memories involve Encyclopedia Brown, Sally, and the rest of Sobol’s creations. Thanks for everything, Mr. Sobol.

  2. He was a real guy, but he didn’t write the more recent titles published in the last ten years or so. Those were written by freelancers and published under Sobol’s name . . . which always seemed a little sketchy to me.