Judith Viorst was born and raised in New Jersey. She received a BA in history from Rutgers University, and in 1981, after six years of study, she graduated from the Washington Psychoanalytic Institute.
Viorst is the author of eight collections of poems for adults: The Village Square; It’s Hard to Be Hip Over Thirty and Other Tragedies of Married Life; People and Other Aggravations; How Did I Get to Be 40 and Other Atrocities; When Did I Stop Being 20 and Other Injustices; Forever Fifty and Other Negotiations; Suddenly Sixty and Other Shocks of Later Life, and I’m Too Young to Be Seventy and Other Delusions. She has also written You’re Officially a Grown-Up: The Graduate’s Guide to Freedom, Responsibility, Happiness and Personal Hygiene; a novel, Murdering Mr. Monti, and five non-fiction books: Yes, Married; Love & Guilt & The Meaning of Life, Etc.; Necessary Losses, which was on The New York Times bestseller list for almost two years; its companion volume, Imperfect Control; and Grown-Up Marriage. In addition she wrote a column in Redbook for over 25 years.
Viorst is the author of 17 books for children: Sunday Morning; I’ll Fix Anthony; Try It Again, Sam; Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day; The Tenth Good Thing About Barney; My Mama Says There Aren’t Any Zombies, Ghosts, Vampires, Creatures, Demons, Monsters, Fiends, Goblins, or Things; Rosie and Michael; Alexander, Who Used to Be Rich Last Sunday; If I Were In Charge of The World and Other Worries; The Good-bye Book; Earrings!; The Alphabet From Z to A; Sad Underwear and Other Complications; Alexander, Who’s Not (Do You Hear Me? I Mean It!) Going to Move; Absolutely, Positively Alexander, a collection of the three Alexander stories; Super-Completely and Totally the Messiest, and Just in Case.
Many of her books, for adults as well as for children, have been published abroad. Several of her children’s books have been made into short films.
Viorst lectures widely on a variety of topics, ranging from loss and growth to children’s literature and the subject of control. Her poetry has been read in performance by Anne Bancroft, Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontaine, Ann Jackson and Eli Wallach. Her musical, Love & Shrimp, starring Eileen Barnett, Bonnie Franklin and Mariette Hartley, has been performed in Los Angeles, New York, and other cities. A musical version of Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, with the play and lyrics written by Viorst and music by Shelley Markham, was commissioned by and performed at the Kennedy Center and now appears at theaters all over the country. A second children’s musical, Alexander, Who’s Not Not Not Not Not Not Going to Move, also with play and lyrics by Viorst and music by Shelley Markham, was commissioned by and performed at the Kennedy Center and is currently touring the country.
Viorst resides in Washington, DC, with her husband, Milton, who is the author of several critically acclaimed political books.