Scott O’Dell was born Odell Gabriel Scott in Los Angeles, California, in 1898.
After World War One, he attended a number of different colleges, including the University of Rome, and was employed in the film industry as a script reader and later as a set dresser.
He went on to work as a magazine and book editor and his first novel was Woman of Spain (1934). His other novels include Hill of the Hawk (1947) and The Sea is Red (1958). Island of the Blue Dolphins was published in 1960 and was his first publication for young adults. This was highly successful and he wrote a further 25 novels for this younger audience.
He died in 1989. His legacy includes the Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction, which was established in 1982. A collection of his papers from 1966 to 1976 are held at the University of Oregon libraries. These include the manuscripts for The Cruise of the Arctic Star (1973).