Clyde Robert Bulla was born on January 9, 1914, on a farm near King City, Missouri. The youngest son of Julian W. Bulla, a farmer, and Sarah Ann (Henson) Bulla, a homemaker, he was educated in a one-room schoolhouse run by one of his older sisters. As a child, Bulla had a strong desire to be a writer; he once told Contemporary Authors, "by the time I was seven or eight, I was enamored of words." Though he was not encouraged in this pursuit by his family or friends, none of whom had ever seen an author, he spent the evenings of his school years writing, "as long as I could stay awake."
At the age of ten, Bulla entered a writing contest and won a small prize. Bolstered by this success, he became convinced that he was a writer. He continued to attend school with enthusiam, though after only one year at King City High School, he was forced to leave in order to help his family on the farm. He finished his education by correspondence, teaching himself to play the piano and gaining an interest in opera. He farmed until 1942, when the family moved to King City because Mrs. Bulla had become ill. He then joined the Tri-County News in King City as a linotype operator and columnist in order to help support the family. He continued to write and send out stories, hoping for publication.
Though many of his early works were rejected, Bulla sold his first story in 1934 to a women's magazine. During the depression, he helped his family stay afloat by selling stories to pulp magazines. He also joined a national group of writers who read and critiqued each other's work. Due to this association, he met Emma Thibodaux, an elementary school teacher who encouraged him to try writing children's books. After years of varied success writing for adults, Bulla decided to try this new approach. He wrote a story called The Donkey Cart (1946), which was met with immediate interest from his editor, who requested another book. This second book was Riding the Pony Express (1948), and after its publication, Bulla wrote a book or two every year.
With a career that lasted over sixty years and produced almost one hundred books, Bulla proved that he could make a lasting impact in the field of children's literature. He has written historical fiction, contemporary fiction, nonfiction, music, poems, retellings of opera plots and Biblical stories, and books set in foreign lands. He has won awards and critical acclaim for his simple, straightforward style and ability to explain complex concepts in an engaging manner, especially as displayed in Benito (1961); Jonah and the Great Fish (1970); Pocahontas and the Strangers (1971); Noah and the Rainbow: An Ancient Story (1972); Shoeshine Girl (1975); and A Lion to Guard Us (1981).
Clyde Robert Bulla is a member of the Authors Guild, the Authors League of America, and the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. In addition to writing, he is intereted in music, theater, and travel.
(Source: Gale Literary Databases. "Clyde Robert Bulla." Contemporary Authors. 3 November 2003. 2 August 2005.)
The Clyde Robert Bulla Papers consist of manuscripts for two of his books: Dexter (1973), which includes a holograph and three drafts; and The Moon Singer (1969), which includes five drafts.
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[Identification of item], Clyde Robert Bulla papers, A 297, Special Collections & University Archives, University of Oregon Libraries, Eugene, Oregon.
Detailed Description of the Collection