Philip Nel > Shameless Self-Promotion > About

My Page About Me
A sketchy biography of Philip Nel.

         In the spring of 1968, Phil's mom and dad emigrated from South Africa to the United States. After a few months living in Cambridge (Massachusetts), they moved to the suburbs and, there, his story begins.

self-portrait         The first of his family to be born in the U.S., Philip Nel burst onto the scene in 1969. He spent his early years in Lynnfield, Massachusetts, where he indulged in drooling, reading Dr. Seuss's collected works, and drawing with his purple crayon. 1971 saw the birth of his one-and-only sister Linda. In 1980, their prescient parents bought the family's first home computer (a TRS-80, Model I). In 1984, following a move to Wallingford, Connecticut, Choate accepted him, a decision that puzzles the school's admissions office to this day. After graduating from Choate in 1988, Mr. Nel traveled northwest to Rochester, New York, where he studied English and Psychology at the University of Rochester. In 1992, he received not only a B.A., but also a handsome debt that he finally finished paying off in 2005.

Crockett Johnson and Ruth Krauss: How an Unlikely Couple Found Love, Dodged the FBI, and Transformed Children's Literature         Next, Mr. Nel packed up and headed to Nashville, Tennessee, pursuing graduate degrees in English at Vanderbilt University (M.A. '93, Ph.D. '97) while pursuing the charming and brilliant Ms. Karin Westman. After a whirlwind five-year courtship, the couple exchanged vows before a merry gathering of family, friends, and spiritual advisors on May 24, 1997, at Philadelphia's Gloria Dei (Old Swedes') Church. In July of 1998, the recently-weds moved to Charleston, South Carolina, where Dr. Karin Westman was an Assistant Professor at the College of Charleston. During their two years there, Phil taught at the College and wrote book reviews for The Post and Courier. In their pursuit of two tenure-track jobs, the couple arrived in Manhattan, Kansas in July of 2000. She is now Associate Professor and Head of Kansas State University's English Department, where he is a University Distinguished Professor and directs the graduate Program in Children's Literature.

Annotated Cat: Under the Hats of Seuss and His Cats         Phil's books include:

In 2005, Front Street Books published Crockett Johnson's Magic Beach, with an afterword by Phil and an appreciation by Maurice Sendak. Currently, he is co-editing (with Eric Reynolds) Crockett Johnson's Barnaby for Fantagraphics. It will collect all ten years (1942-1952) of Johnson's strip: Volume One appeared in 2013, Volume Two in 2014, Volume Three in 2016. Look for Volume Four in 2018. He, Lissa Paul, and Nina Christensen are co-editing a second edition of Keywords for Children's Literature (NYU Press, expected 2019). You can learn more about Barnaby, the biography and other projects on Nine Kinds of Pie (his blog). From 2011 to 2018, Phil was editor of Routledge's Children's Literature and Culture series, succeeding its founding editor Jack Zipes.

 Dr. Seuss: American Icon        The books on Harry Potter and Dr. Seuss have brought considerable media attention. Phil has been quoted or featured in dozens of media venues, including CBS Sunday Morning, National Public Radio's Weekend Edition, National Public Radio's Morning Edition, National Public Radio's Talk of the Nation, BBC/PRI's The World, The Voice of America, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Time, Newsweek,, US News and World Report, USA Today, The New York Daily News, the Associated Press, The Daily Telegraph (UK), The Globe and Mail (Toronto, Canada), The National Post (Toronto, Canada), Investor's Business Daily, Publishers Weekly, MacLean's, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Kansas City Star, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The Baltimore Sun, The Hartford Courant, Radio National's Book Talk (Australia), among others.

         Since this page is bragging about -- er, sharing -- Phil's achievements, let's take a moment to list some awards. Crockett Johnson and Ruth Krauss: How an Unlikely Couple Found Love, Dodged the FBI, and Transformed Children's Literature won SWPACA's Rollins Book Award, and was a Children's Literature Association Honor Book. Tales for Little RebelsIt, Crockett Johnson's Barnaby Volume One and Volume Three were all nominated for an Eisner Award. In sum: he is a three-time Eisner loser. He has been therecipient of a Smithsonian Postdoctoral Fellowship, an NEH Summer Stipend, and a Kansas State University William L. Stamey Teaching Award. Choice Magazine named Dr. Seuss: American Icon an "Outstanding Academic Book of 2004."  His "Dada Knows Best: Growing Up 'Surreal' with Dr. Seuss" (Children's Literature 27 [1999], pp. 150-84) won the Children's Literature Association's Article Award.

         When not writing, teaching, blogging, conducting research, presenting papers at conferences, or giving invited lectures, talking to the media, Phil enjoys running, napping, reading, playing the guitar, and investing in the recording industry.




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 Last updated on Tuesday, September 17, 2019 .