This Goodly Land

Han Nolan (August 25, 1956–present)

Other Names Used

Alabama Connections

Selected Works

Literary Awards

Biographical Information

Han Nolan was born in Birmingham, Ala., but her family moved to New York State before she was one year old. Her family moved frequently as she was growing up, but they spent time every summer visiting their relatives in Dothan, Ala. As a child, Nolan pronounced her first and middle names as “Hannah Hollis” instead of “Helen Harris.” This led to several nicknames, which eventually coalesced into “Han.” Nolan had difficulties in elementary school (eventually traced to food allergies), but she was always interested in creating her own stories. She started keeping a journal after reading Harriet the Spy. A creative writing assignment in 6th grade was the first time she received positive feedback for her writing from someone other than her family. At age thirteen, Nolan began studying dance, which she loved so much she pursued it in college.

Nolan earned a BS in dance education from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro in 1979 and an MA in dance from Ohio State University in 1981. Nolan taught dance for a few years after finishing school but then decided she needed a career that would enable her to spend more time with her family. She began studying writing techniques and markets, then began writing and submitting stories for publication. Her first book, published in 1994, was If I Should Die Before I Wake. Since then, several of her books have been included in lists such as “Best Books for the Teen Age” (New York Public Library) and “Best Books for Young Adults” (American Library Association). She moved back to Alabama with her family in the mid-1990s.

Interests and Themes

Han Nolan writes books for young adults promoting tolerance and understanding. Her protagonists struggle through crisis to discover their true selves.

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Photo by Barbara Smith-Baker; courtesy of Harcourt.

Last updated on May 30, 2008.

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