Van Loon, Hendrik Willem (1882-1944), a United States historian and writer for children. He was awarded the first Newbery Medal (1922) for the children's book Story of Mankind, illustrated with his own lively drawings.
Van Loon was born in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. At 21 he came to the United States. After graduation from Cornell University in 1905, he became a journalist. As a correspondent for the Associated Press, he was sent to Europe to report on the aftermath of the Russian Revolution of 1905. In 1911 Van Loon received a Ph.D. from the University of Munich. Returning to the United States, he lectured on history and art at various universities and wrote histories of the Dutch people. During World War I, he was a war correspondent in Europe.
After the war Van Loon went to New York City, where he wrote the Story of Mankind (1921). In 1923-24 he was associate editor of the Baltimore Sun then resigned to write and to lecture throughout the world. In World War II he broadcast Allied news to the Nazi-occupied Netherlands. Queen Wilhelmina decorated him for his service.
His books include Life and Times of Rembrandt van Rijn (1931); Van Loon's Geography (1932); Van Loon's Lives (1942). Report to Saint Peter (1947) is autobiographical.