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Home > Children's Authors > Elsa Marston

Elsa Marston
Photo of Elsa Marston

Elsa Marston is the author of almost two dozen fiction and non-fiction books for children and teens. For Wisdom Tales, Ms. Marston has written the biography The Compassionate Warrior: Abd el-Kader of Algeria (co-winner of the 2013 Middle East Book Award for best “Youth Nonfiction”), and the upcoming children’s story book The Olive Tree (coming in November, 2014), which is illustrated by Claire Ewart.

Elsa and her twin sister, Lee, grew up in Newton Centre, Massachusetts. Their father was a professor of English at Northeastern University in Boston, and their mother a home economics teacher. Elsa says, “Lee and I were quite different: she was outgoing and sociable, while I was shy and liked to do things by myself. We fought a bit as kids—but we’re great friends today.”

Growing up, Elsa says she “liked lots of different things. I climbed trees, painted, and drew; played the piano, tennis, cymbals, and basketball (I was hopeless); loved drama, read tons of books, and kicked footballs (I was pretty good). I longed to travel and see other parts of the world, and I’ve always loved the sea.”

Living near Boston, Elsa and her family would visit the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, where she was fascinated by the exhibits on ancient Egypt. It inspired her to start her very first novels, although she admits she never finished them.

Elsa attended several different universities after she left school, including Vassar College, the University of Iowa, Harvard University, and Indiana University. She also studied Middle Eastern history at the American University of Beirut.

Elsa’s late husband, Iliya Harik, was from Lebanon, and he worked as a political scientist at Indiana University. Because of Iliya’s work and his family connections, he and Elsa would often travel to the Middle East. Inspired by her travels, Elsa says the motivation for her writing is “to share with young readers my own interest in those lands and peoples, and equally important, help contribute to better understanding of the Arab/​Muslim world. In that way I hope to continue Iliya’s life’s work, along with my own.”

Elsa has three grown-up sons, and lives with her cat in Bloomington, Indiana.


Fascinating Facts about Elsa Marston:

diamond bullet pointWhen Elsa was little she wanted to be a trapeze performer, a concert pianist, an espionage agent, an artist, a humanitarian worker in foreign lands, and a writer.

diamond bullet pointElsa’s mother was a home economics teacher and would make all of Elsa and her twin sister Lee’s clothes.

diamond bullet pointElsa’s first novel, The Ugly Goddess (Cricket Books, 2002), is about a little boy from ancient Egypt and his extraordinary adventures. It was the fulfillment of a lifelong dream.

Awards Won by This Author’s Books


  • The Compassionate Warrior
    • Eric Hoffer Award, First runner-up in the “Culture” category
    • Co-winner of the 2013 Middle East Book Award for best “Youth Nonfiction”
    • Winner of the 2013 Midwest Book Award Gold Medal in the category “Young Adult Non-Fiction”
    • Winner of the 2013 Midwest Book Award Silver Medal in the category “History”
    • Finalist for 2013 Foreword Review “Book of the Year” Award in the category “Young Adult Nonfiction”
  • The Olive Tree (illustrated by Claire Ewart):
    • Silver Medal in the “Illustration – Graphic” category of the 2014 Midwest Book Awards
    • Honorable Mention in the “Picture Book” category of the 2015 Middle East Book Awards

Author Extras & Links


  • Elsa Marston has her own web site, which has a lot of interesting information on Elsa and her work. Click here to see children’s and teen books author Elsa Marston’s web page.


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