September 25, 1930, Chicago, IL-May 10, 1999, Key West, FL
Shel Silverstein was born into a Jewish family. He attended Roosevelt High School and, later, the University of Illinois, from which he was expelled. He then attended Chicago Academy of Fine Arts and Roosevelt University for three years, until 1953 when he was drafted into the United States Army. He served in Japan and Korea. He had one daughter, Shoshanna Jordan Hastings, born June 30, 1970, with Susan Taylor Hastings of Sausalito, California. Susan died on June 29, 1975 and Shoshanna died April 24, 1982, at age 11, of a cerebral aneurysm. He also had a son named Matthew, born November 10, 1983, with Sarah Spencer of Key West, Florida;
Sarah drove the conch train and inspired Shel's song "The Great Conch Train Robbery."
Silverstein began drawing at age 7 by tracing the works of Al Capp. Silverstein's editor at Harper & Row, Ursula Nordstrom, encouraged Silverstein to write children's poetry. Silverstein said that he never studied the poetry of others and therefore developed his own quirky style, and laid back style.
Where The Sidewalk Ends (Excerpt)
There is a place where the sidewalk ends
and before the street begins,
and there the grass grows soft and white,
and there the sun burns crimson bright,
and there the moon-bird rests from his flight
to cool in the peppermint wind.
Let us leave this place where the smoke blows black
and the dark street winds and bends.
Past the pits where the asphalt flowers grow
we shall walk with a walk that is measured and slow
and watch where the chalk-white arrows go
to the place where the sidewalk ends.
Yes we'll walk with a walk that is measured and slow,
and we'll go where the chalk-white arrows go,
for the children, they mark, and the children, they know,
the place where the sidewalk ends.