S.E. Hinton: The Teenaged 'Outsiders' Author Who Invented Young Adult Fiction

By Cyn Felthousen-Post
Left: S.E. Hinton as a nurse attending to Matt Dillon's character in 'The Outsider.' Right: the novel 'The Outsiders.' Source: IMDB; Wikimedia Commons

Writing novels for and about teenagers -- The Outsiders, Rumble Fish, Tex and others -- S.E. Hinton invented the Young Adult (YA) fiction genre. Hinton wrote The Outsiders as a teenager, so it makes sense that these coming-of-age stories would connect with generation after generation of young readers. The struggles and emotions of characters like Ponyboy Curtis and Johnny Cade, their attempts to do the right thing in a world of peer pressure, indifference, class division, and adolescent machismo, ring true in any era. What's surprising to many readers is that Hinton is a woman, yet her best-known novels all center on teenage boys, and the depictions are note-perfect.