The Minnesota native behind beloved young-adult novels including Hatchet, Brian’s Winter and The River has died.
Gary Paulsen died "suddenly" Wednesday at the age of 82, publisher Pan Macmillan Children's announced. He is survived by his wife and son.
Paulsen was born on May 17, 1939, in Minneapolis. He remained unsettled throughout much of his adolescence, taking on various manual labor jobs at a young age and, at 14, running away from home to join a traveling circus, the publisher said.
He graduated from Thief River Falls High School (though barely), and went on to attend Bemidji State from 1957-59, paying tuition with money he'd earned as a trapper. He would then go on to serve in the U.S. Army
His literary career blossomed, however, when he abruptly quit a job in California and moved to northern Minnesota's woods, where he wrote his first novel over the subsequent winter.
Paulsen wrote more than 200 books, most of them aimed at young adults and many highlighting the outdoors that so influenced him. Three of his novels — Hatchet, Dogsong and The Winter Room – became Newbery Honor Books. Pan Macmillan said in total, his books have sold more than 35 million copies.
After falling in love with running dogs, Paulsen twice raced in the famed Iditarod.
Paulsen's most recent release was a memoir, titled Gone to the Woods: Surviving a Lost Childhood. One final novel from Paulsen is set to publish in the U.S. in January of 2022. Northwind tells the story of "a young boy on the razor's edge between life and death where the high seas meet a coastal wilderness."