Gail E. Haley oral history interview 1, 2005 December 30
Gail Haley, an author and illustrator of children's literature born in Charlotte, North Carolina, recalls her early life and young adulthood and reflects on influences on her personal development as an artist. In this first of sixteen interviews, Ms. Haley recounts her own experiences as well as those of her family in the Charlotte region from the 1930s to 1950s. Ms. Haley describes the migration of her father, George C. Einhart, to the Charlotte area and his marriage to her mother, P. Louise Bell. In particular, Ms. Haley recalls events related to her father's deployment during World War II and his tenure as the art director of the Charlotte Observer. She also discusses living in rural Shuffletown and the self-sufficient lifestyle of this region, as well as various periods when the family lived in Charlotte, both during World War II with her grandmother Ethel Bell, and in later years. In addition to her family life, Ms. Haley recalls her formal education, including time in Charlotte Mecklenburg schools and her experiences with art school at both the Richmond Professional Institute and the University of Virginia. Similarly, she reflects on the value of her informal educational experiences at the Charlotte Public Library, which fostered her love of books, mythology, and research. Ms. Haley also describes her decision at a young age to be an author and illustrator, aspects of her artistic training, including interactions with printing, puppets, and color separation, and some of her early experiences with book publishing in New York. In relation to her education and early work as a professional illustrator, she discusses her first marriage to Joseph A. Haley. Other themes in the interview include her lifelong fascination with travel, passion for art, her personal beliefs, views on nature, and childhood struggles to assimilate with reality.