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Elspeth Campbell Murphy is often asked about her first name. It is a Scottish form of Elizabeth, and is pronounced just as it’s spelled, with the accent on the El. Elspeth was born in Hamilton, Scotland, near Glasgow. She spent her early years in Canada, but has lived most of her life near Lake Michigan, first in Indiana and now in Illinois.

Elspeth has more than one hundred titles to her credit, and sales exceeding six million copies worldwide. She is the author of the best-selling “Three Cousins Detective Club” series. She is also well known for her time-honored CHALKDUST: Prayers of Encouragement for Teachers; her best-selling series of psalm paraphrases for children, “David and I Talk to God”; and her Gold Medallion–winning book of prayers for young children, Do You See Me, God?

A graduate of Trinity College with a B.A. in English, and Oakland University with an M.A.T. in elementary education, Elspeth has taught in the elementary grades and written and edited curriculum. She now writes full time and lives with her husband, Michael, and their cat, MacGuffin, in Chicago. From her home-office window, Elspeth can see a school on one side and a zoo on the other. She says it’s fun to go to sleep at night, hearing the roar of the lions over the roar of the buses.

BELOW: The most recent edition of CHALKDUST, Elspeth's first book, which she wrote while teaching first grade in a rural school in Yemassee, South Carolina.


"A SURVIVAL GUIDE: When I began teaching high school English fourteen years ago, I quickly learned that my perceptions and the realities of teaching did not quite jibe. Had it not been for one of my former teachers taking me under her wing, I doubt I'd be in the profession today. It was a copy of CHALKDUST that she gave me that served as an inspiration for continuing. Every child a teacher could possibly meet in a career is addressed in this book. My mentor marked particular passages for "In the Middle of a Bad Day" and "For Confidence," and suddenly I found that I was not the only one who felt insecure and frustrated. I think when one begins teaching, she often feels she's on her own—that the support system is not there. This book helps provide the encouragement and the vision to continue after a particularly disheartening day."
—Reviewer: A reader from Kentucky (on

"INSPIRATION FROM AN INSIGHTFUL MENTOR: Recently, as a new faculty member, my unofficial mentor ... loaned me her treasured copy of CHALKDUST ... during weeks filled with stress. ... I have considered leaving the education field altogether, even though I am among members of our family's fourth generation of teachers. CHALKDUST reminds me of the deepest motives for following this challenging professional path: supporting the growth and well-being of shorter, younger humans, as well as remaining invested in the learning/teaching dynamic. ... Mother (once a music teacher) and I agreed to buy 50 copies of CHALKDUST this Christmas ... gifts for this holiday season and treasures for future friends who may need encouragement in the middle of chaos."
—Reviewer: Suzanne from Houston, TX (on