Natalie Savage Carlson was born on October 3, 1906, in Kernstown, Virginia. After she married, she moved around a great deal as the wife of a Navy officer, living for many years in Paris, France.
Her first story was published in the Baltimore Sunday Sun when she was eight years old.
Her first book, The Talking Cat and Other Stories of French Canada (where her mother was born), was published in 1952. One of her best-loved books is The Family Under the Bridge (1958), which was a Newbery Honor book in 1959. Many readers will remember her series of Happy Orpheline books about a group of French orphans and their carefree lives.
In 1966, Ms. Carlson was the U.S. nominee for the Hans Christian Andersen International Children's Book Award.
Materials for fifteen of her novels are held at the Children's Literature Research Collection at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Ms. Carlson lived in Rhode Island, Oklahoma, California, the Pacific Northwest, Florida, and abroad. She died September 23, 1997, in Rhode Island.