Thursday, May 7, 2009

Craig Virden: RIP

One of the most recognizable faces of the New York children’s book publishing community passed away yesterday of a pulmonary embolism at the far too early age of 56. Craig Virden was Bunyanesque, boisterous, wonderfully erudite, a marvelous raconteur, a natural humorist. I knew him first from his days at Scholastic Books, then as the producer of DIC's Get A Long Gang. In the mid-nineties he became head of the children’s book division of Random House.

For twenty years I would see Craig at children’s literary functions. I would wait my turn for this force of nature always had members of the publishing world and the literati surrounding him. I would go up to him and tap him on his knees for he did tower over me. "Any good stories to relate about publishing life in the Big City (New York is a big city, Los Angeles is just a city)?" I would echo up to him. Damn if he wouldn’t begin to spin forth tales that made me burst out loud laughing. He would then be dragged away to countless meetings, and I would see him again at the next big publishing get-together. I was never sure whether any of his stories were true, but they certainly were funny.

To get a small measure of the man, here is his Publisher’s Weekly blog from this year’s Bologna Children's Book Fair. I made it a must every morning to read Craig's observations of a publishing world in flux.

I extend my heartfelt condolences to his lovely wife, literary agent Nancy Gallt who I have also known for years, and to their children. Craig will be sorely missed.


  1. I recently signed with Craig and I took to him for our first correspondence. I never had the pleasure of meeting him in person and will forever regret that. Everyone has a story about him. It's great to share in everyone's fond memories.

    Take care,


  2. You would have had a wonderful time learning from both Craig and Nancy. It should be comforting to know that Craig thought highly enough of your writing talents to sign you. The best thing you can do in his memory is just keep writing.