Ann Downer-Hazell
1960 - 2015
Share Ann's life story with friends and family
Send an Email
Or Copy this URL to Share
Ann Downer-Hazell, of Somerville, born November 28, 1960, died November 19, 2015, of ALS. Novelist, natural history writer, and editor, Ann was born in Falls Church, Virginia, and grew up living in the Philippines and Thailand, traveling in Asia and Europe, before returning to Virginia. A typhoon in the Pacific, a conical volcano in the Philippines, Buddhist temples and crocodile farms in Thailand, geckos and snakes in the gardens, and the classic childrens fantasies by Madeleine LEngle and Ursula LeGuin: all fed Anns rich and voracious imagination. She began writing her own novel in a spiral notebook at age 13. It became the three books of The Spellkey Trilogy, a young-adult fantasy classic. Ann graduated from Smith in 1982, and after working in Virginia, moved to Cambridge. She worked first for WGBH and then as an editor at Harvard University Press, where her love of the natural world led to distinguished and beautiful books in life sciences and history of science, such as Piotr Naskrekis The Smaller Majority and Ronald Numbers's Galileo Goes to Jail and Other Myths About Science and Religion. At the same time she continued with her own YA novels, most notably Hatching Magic (2004) and its sequel The Dragon of Never-Was (2009), as well as bo- oks of natural history for young readers, such as Elephant Talk, Shark Baby, and Wild Animal Neighbors. Her publisher sped up the publication of Smart and Spineless, on invertebrate intelligence, so that she could see it before she died. Ann met Ed Hazell, a fellow writer, in the early 1990s. Friendship became love, and stayed friendship. They were married in 1994. Bennet Hazell was born in December, 1999. They have endured much, and given more, throughout the tragedy of Anns illness. Her last book, on animal mating and attachment, will be published posthumously in 2016, and is a tribute to her family, her greatest accomplishment. Survivors: husband Ed Hazell and son Ben Hazell, of Somerville; mother, Vesta Downer, of Falls Church, VA; sister, brother-in-law, and nephew, Judy Downer, Alan Gordon, and Robert Gordon, of Queens, NY. Memorials to Massachusetts Audubon Society or Compassionate Care ALS, P.O. Box 1052, W. Falmouth, MA 02574.

To Plant Memorial Trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.
Published in The Somerville Journal from Dec. 1 to Dec. 10, 2015.
Not sure what to say?
2 entries
April 28, 2016
Our contact was brief, her impression was lasting. Rest in peace
Charles Stewart
December 6, 2015
I was so sorry to hear about Ann's death. I worked with her at WGBH in the 80s. So smart and funny. Glad to know about her accomplishments, her life and family. I think we figured out we had both lived in BKK, a special connection. My sincere condolences to her extended family.
Alison Kennedy
Share to let others add their own memories and condolences