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Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings

1896-1953

 

State of Florida

Marjorie Kinnan was born August 8, 1896, in Washington, D.C. A writer from an early age, in 1907, Marjorie received a $2.00 prize for a story published in the Washington Post.

Marjorie's father died in 1913, when she was seventeen years old. A year later, after her graduation from high school, Marjorie moved to Wisconsin with her mother and younger brother. She attended the University of Wisconsin where she was a member of the women's honor society, the drama society, and the Delta Gamma Sorority. In 1918, Marjorie graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English.

A year after graduating, Marjorie 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 orange grove near Hawthorne, Florida, aptly named Cross Creek because it lay nestled between Orange Lake and Lochloosa Lake. 1933 Ms. Rawlings divorced Charles Rawlings, but was so drawn to the natural, untamed landscape and the simplicity of the rural lifestyle, that she continued to live at Cross Creek on and off for the rest of her life. In 1941 Marjorie Rawlings married Norton Baskin, a hotel owner from St. Augustine, Florida, to whom she remained married until her death in 1953.

The style in which Ms. Rawlings wrote is typically referred to as local color or regional writing because the themes that so often inhabited her stories and novels were about the organic culture of rural life. Using the external voice, Ms. Rawlings wrote about characters whose internal motivation drove them to overcome environmental forces. Although her stories were based on the seemingly simple lives of rural people her themes were often universal.

Ms. Rawlings sold her first two short stories in 1930. In 1933 she received the O. Henry Award for her story "Gal Young 'Un," a story about a vulnerable widow living in rural Florida during the Prohibition era. During that same year she began her work on The Yearling, her best-known work about a young boy named Jody who lives in rural Florida, and adopts an orphaned fawn as a pet. As both the boy and the fawn grow, Jody struggles with the practical hardships of life on a farm, family relationships and expectations, and his responsibilities as he approaches adulthood. This story, for which Ms. Rawlings would win the 1939 Pulitzer Prize for fiction, was based on some actual events. However, in real life it was a girl who adopted the fawn.

Ms. Rawlings continued to write until her death from a cerebral hemorrhage on December 14, 1953. Several of her books, including The Yearling, Cross Creek, and "Gal Young 'Un," were made into movies.

Related Links

Marjorie Kinnan Rawling's Writing Profile

Electronic copies of Marjorie Kinnan Rawling's personal and business correspondence and manuscripts

The Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Society

State Historic Site

Ideas for activities and discussions

About the O. Henry Award


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