Ashley Bryan, Acclaimed Children’s Author, Dead at 98 – Cause of Death

Ashley Bryan, the celebrated children’s book author and illustrator who created stories centered on African and African American folk tales, has died. He was 98.

Bryan’s website said he died Friday at the home of his niece. It noted that after his last birthday on July 13, 2021, he “continued to recite poetry from his vast repertoire – especially Shakespeare’s sonnets – up to the very end.”

In a career spanning more than six decades, Bryan’s vibrantly colored collage and paper-cut illustrations adorned the pages of some 50 books, folktales and poetry collections by such acclaimed writers as Langston Hughes, Nikki Giovanni and Walter Dean Myers. The books he wrote and illustrated himself include Infinite Hope about his experiences serving in the segregated Army during WWII, Beat the Story-Drum: Pum-Pum, his retelling of Nigerian tales and Beautiful Blackbird, a story that celebrates community and individuality. Survivors include his brother Ernest, and “many cherished” nieces and nephews, according to Simon & Schuster.

“I am deeply saddened to learn of Ashley’s passing,” Maine Gov. Janet Mills said in a statement Saturday. “He was a wonderful, happy man with a deep, rich history, a great imagination, and a beautiful, childlike soul. I am so thankful I was able to spend time with him last year. Over our lunch, he spontaneously recited Langston Hughes, Shakespeare’s love sonnets and other wonderful verses.”

Mills had proclaimed July 13, 2020, as Ashley Frederick Bryan Day in Maine to mark Bryan’s then-97th birthday. A memorial service will be held in Isleford this July 13.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

%d bloggers like this: