“A slavish concern for the composition of words is the sign of a bankrupt intellect. Be gone, odious wasp! You smell of decayed syllables.” - Norton Juster, The Phantom Tollbooth
Juster was born on June 2, 1929 in Brooklyn, New York. He attended the University of Pennsylvania, receiving his Bachelor's in Architecture in 1952. After doing graduate work at the University of Liverpool as a Fulbright scholar, Juster went on to serve in the United States Naval Reserve Civil Engineer Corps 1954-57, helping to build airfields in Morocco and Newfoundland among other duties. Juster married Jeanne Ray, a graphic designer, on August 15, 1964 and they had one child, Emily. In addition to writing, Juster was an architect in New York City with Juster and Gugliotta (1960-68) and Juster-Pope-Frazier Associates in Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts from 1969 until his retirement. He began teaching architecture at Hampshire College in 1970 and became an Emeritus Professor of Design in 1992. He died in Northampton MA on March 8, 2020.
Norton Juster published several books, both fiction and non-fiction. His most well-known work is The Phantom Tollbooth. The book, first published in 1961, tells the adventures of Milo, a young boy who is transported to a land called the Kingdom of Wisdom by a magical tollbooth. In 1963 he published The Dot and The Line: A Romance in Lower Mathematics, which tells the tale of two star-crossed lovers--a dot and a line. His subsequent children's books include, Stark Naked: A Paranomastic Odyssey (1969), Otter Nonsense (1994), As Silly As Knees, As Busy As Bees: An Astounding Assortment of Similes (1998), The Hello Goodbye Window (2005), Sourpuss and Sweetie Pie (2008), The Odious Ogre (2010), and most recently Neville (2011). Juster also published two works of non-fiction -- So Sweet to Labor: Rural Women in America, 1865-1895 (1979) and A Woman's Place: Yesterday's Women in Rural America (1996).
Norton Juster's most famous work, The Phantom Tollbooth, has proven to be a timeless work of fiction, after making The New York Times list of best-selling books for children in 1962. In 1966 The New York Times included it on its list of the fifty best children's book of the previous five years. The Dot and The Line was made into an animated short film by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) in 1965. In 1970, MGM adapted The Phantom Tollbooth into a full-length animated feature. It was also performed as an opera for Opera Delaware in 1995. Juster won numerous awards for his literary work including a Ford Foundation grant in 1960-1961, the National Academy of Arts and Sciences Award for Outstanding Achievement in 1968-1969, a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1970-1971, and the George G. Stone Center for Children's Books Seventh Recognition of Merit in 1971.
The Justers' first home in Amherst was located on 259 Lincoln Avenue, where they lived from 1982-2007 and the eponymous "Hello Goodbye Window" was located in the kitchen.
Directions to Next Stop
Walk south on Lincoln Avenue for .03 miles to Amity Street. Turn left and walk .02 miles until the intersection with Pleasant Street. Continue directly across Pleasant Street on to Main Street for 400 feet.