Born Nicholasa Rivera-Golpe, Nicholasa Mohr was raised in New York City (along with her three brothers) by Puerto Rican immigrant parents. When Mohr was eight years old, her father died. Mohr’s mother died when she was in high school.
As a young girl, Mohr developed an interest in drawing and painting, which provided her with an escape from the bigotry and discrimination she encountered in school. She was an excellent student, and after gradu¬ ating from high school, she attended the Art Students League in New York. Then, she moved to Mexico City and attended the Taller de Grafica Popular, where she studied the works of the great Mexican artists, such as Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, and Jose Clemente Orozco.
Mohr was inspired by the manner in which the paintings of these artists reflected their cultural identities. She then returned to New York City and enrolled at the New School for Social Research, where she met her future husband, Irwin Mohr, who was a Ph.D. student in psychology. In 1959, Mohr enrolled at the Brooklyn Museum Art School and the Pratt Center for Contemporary Printmaking.
By the late 1960s, Nicholasa Mohr had become a recognized painter in the art circles of New York. Then, in the early 1970s, she developed an interest in writing. In 1973, Mohr published her first book, Nilda, a fic¬ tional, third-person account of her early years growing up in Spanish Harlem.
The book received several awards for juvenile fiction and earned her numerous distinctions. With this book, Mohr became the first woman to write in English about the struggles of Puerto Ricans in New York City and also the first Hispanic American woman in modern times to be pub¬ lished by a major commercial publisher.
Mohr followed up her first book with El Bronx Remembered in 1975 and In Nueva York in 1977, two more commercial and critical successes. She continued to publish through¬ out the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s. In 1995, she published Song ofthe Coqul and Other Tales of Puerto Rico, a collection of folk stories for children. Her string of popular books has made her the most widely published Hispanic female in the United States.
Ail of Mohr’s books reflect on the lives of Puerto Ricans in the barrios of New York City. In addition to writing, she has drawn the cov¬ ers and illustrations for many of her books. She is a university professor, and she has worked as a television writer and producer. Her books often appear on the classroom reading lists for young adults.