'Encyclopedia Brown' Creator Donald J. Sobol Dies at 87

 

Donald J. Sobol, the creator of the beloved children's book series Encyclopedia Brown died July 11 at the age of 87.

His son John Sobol told the Associated Press that his father died of natural causes in Miami.

The books followed Leroy "Encyclopedia" Brown as he solved mysteries in his hometown of Idaville for "25¢ per day plus expenses." Sometimes he would help his father, the local police chief solve a crime, and sometimes he would be helped by his friend Sally Kimball (who noticed clues boys missed).  Each book featured ten short cases. 

"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," said Don Weisberg, president of Penguin Young Readers Group, which publishes Sobol's books, told the Associated Press.

The series debuted in 1963 with Encyclopedia Brown: Boy Detective.

Sobol hit upon on the idea of the stories, which feature the unique structure of ending the stories with Encyclopedia Brown explaining how he deduced the solution, while working as a clerk at the New York Public Library.

The book was rejected twenty-four times before Penguin books signed the project, which became an instant hit.

He went on to publish twenty-seven other Encyclopedia Brown books over the next forty-nine years, selling millions of copies.

A twenty-eighth book, Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of the Soccer Scheme, is scheduled for publication in Oct., in advance of the series fiftieth anniversary in 2013.

HBO created a short-lived TV version of the books in 1989 that ran 10 episodes.

Encyclopedia Brown also inspired numerous pop culture riffs and parodies from the Simpsons to Monk to a famous Onion headline satirically announcing the death of a grown-up Brown, "Idaville Detective 'Encyclopedia' Brown Found Dead In Library Dumpster."

Sobol was born in New York City in 1924. He served in World War II and later graduated from Oberlin College in Ohio. He worked as a librarian and reporter before moving to Florida in 1961 to write full time.

In addition to the Encyclopedia Brown mysteries, Sobol wrote more than fifty other books during the course of his life.

He is survived by his wife Rose, daughter Diane and sons John and Eric.

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