de Grummond Collection

McCain Library and Archives
University Libraries
University of Southern Mississippi


Collection Number
Collection Dates
Collection Volume
2.1 cu.ft. (3 boxes)

Biographical Sketch | Scope & Content | Related Collections | Series & Subseries | Box Inventory


Donated by Berthe Amoss between May 7, 1968 and March 31, 1985.


Noncirculating; available for research.


The collection is protected by the Copyright Law of the United States (Title 17, U. S. Code). Reproductions can be made only if they are to be used for "private study, scholarship, or research." It is the user's responsibility to verify copyright ownership and to obtain all necessary permissions prior to the reproduction, publication, or other use of any portion of these materials, other than that noted above.

Biographical Sketch

Amoss was born September 26, 1925 in New Orleans, where she soaked up that city's unique historical atmosphere. She took a Bachelor of Arts degree while at Tulane University; studied art for five years at the University of Hawaii; at Kunstschule, Bremen, Germany; and the Academie des Beaux Arts in Antwerp, Belgium. With her six children (Jim, Bob, Billy, Mark, Tom and John), she accompanied her husband, Walter J. Amoss, Jr., on his various job assignments as an executive vice-president for Lykes Brothers Steamship Company. Her travels permitted her to study in Europe's art schools while exposing her to a variety of children's literature from a number of cultures. On her own, Amoss wrote and illustrated several books for young children, including It's Not Your Birthday (Harper & Row, 1966), Tom in the Middle (Harper & Row, 1968), By the Sea (Parents' Magazine Press, 1969), Old Hasdrubal and the Pirates (Parents' Magazine Press, 1971), and The Big Cry (Harper & Row, 1972).

Interviewed about her views on writing for children, Amoss insisted that a picture book depends half on its illustrations, "maybe completely." A children's book should also avoid instructing or teaching a moral. Instead, it should delight a child and expand his world. She credits any talent she might have developed to extensive exposure to art and children's books worldwide. However, her best training came from reading children's books: old, new, good, bad, for 3-year olds, teens and all ages, even books about children's books. Amoss said that she practiced writing for all ages and tried all sorts of stories, and thus learned what did not work as well as what did. Then, her fourth son's tenth birthday provided her with her first children's story. Four-year-old Tom received no presents and could not understand why it was not his birthday. Amoss wrote her first children's book, It's Not Your Birthday, from this episode.