Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings

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Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings (August 8, 1896December 13, 1953) is an American author who lived in remote rural Florida and wrote novels with rural themes and settings. Her best known work, The Yearling, about a boy who adopts an orphaned fawn, won a Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1939 and was later made into a movie, also known as The Yearling.

She was born in 1896 in Washington, DC. She attended the University of Wisconsin and received a degree in English in 1918, then married Charles Rawlings, also a writer. The couple moved to Rochester, NY, where they both worked as journalists for various newspapers. In 1928, the Rawlings purchased a 72 acre (290,000 m²) orange grove near Hawthorne, Florida, named Cross Creek for its location between Orange Lake and Lochloosa Lake. She was fascinated with the remote wilderness and the simple lives of its Florida Crackers. Wary at first, the local residents soon warmed to her and opened up their lives and experiences to her. Marjorie filled several notebooks with descriptions.

Her first novel, South Moon Under, was published in 1933. The book captured of the richness of Cross Creek and its environs. That same year, she and her husband were divorced. One of her least well received books, Golden Apples, came out in 1935. But, she struck gold in 1938 with The Yearling.

Her editor was the legendary Maxwell Perkins of Scribner’s. Over the years, she built friendships with fellow writers Ernest Hemingway, Thomas Wolfe, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Robert Frost and Margaret Mitchell. Marjorie also became a civil rights advocate and corresponded with Indira Gandhi, Mary McLeod Bethune and Zora Neale Hurston. Although "ahead of her time" in her defense of her African-American employee Idella as "the perfect maid," Rawlings still viewed blacks as inferiors and never bridged the racial divide. Their relationship is described in the book Idella: Marjorie Rawlings' "Perfect Maid", by Idella Parker and Mary Keating.

Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings died in 1953 in St. Augustine of a cerebral hemorrhage. She bequeathed most of her property to the University of Florida in Gainesville, where she taught creative writing in Anderson Hall.

Novels

  • 1933 South Moon Under
  • 1935 Golden Apples
  • 1938 The Yearling
  • 1940 When the Whippoorwill
  • 1942 Cross Creek
  • 1942 Cross Creek Cookery
  • 1953 The Sojourner

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