Maud Hart Lovelace

Maud Hart Lovelace

Maud Hart Lovelace (April 26,1892 –  March 11, 1980) was an American author best know for the Betsy-Tacy series of books for girls. Born and raised in Mankato, Minnesota, she enjoyed a happy childhood filled with friends, culture, and a loving family As soon as she could hold a pencil, she began writing stories and poems.

Maud Hart started her college studies the University of Minnesota, but shortly thereafter had to withdraw for health reasons. Escaping to the sun and warmth of  California to rest and recover, she lost no time in selling her first story to the Los Angeles Times Sunday Magazine. Only 18 years old at that time, that bit of good fortune paved the way for her writing ambitions.

Once recuperated and back to her studies, Maud continued to write and sell stories. College seemed less of a drew. She dropped out for good and instead she traveled solo to Europe to gather inspiration for her writing. In the spring of 1917, upon returning to her home base, the Wakefield Publicity Bureau offered a steady day job. She was hired to replace Delos Lovelace, a young writer who was headed off First Officers Training Camp. At a dinner hosted to hand off the position, the two hit it off and were married before the year was out.

A fortuitous match in many ways, Maud Hart and Delos Lovelace collaborated on several books while she continued to write and sell short stories. The author’s own childhood inspired the bedtime stories she told their young daughter (Merien, born in 1931), and eventually she set them down in writing. Not relying only on memory, Maud drew from the copious diaries and scrapbooks she’d kept growing up. Betsy was modeled after herself; Tacy after her best friend, Bick Kenney. Their town of Mankato became “Deep Valley.” Betsy-Tacy, the first of the series, was published in 1940 to immediate and resounding success.

By this time, Maud was a seasoned author, having published numerous short stories and historic novels for adults. But it was the Betsy-Tacy series that sealed her legacy. Historical accuracy and detail was thread that ran through her work, fiction and nonfiction, and her books for younger readers. Generations of readers have responded to the depiction of Betsy and her friends as creative, independent girls who valued friendship and loyalty.

Descriptions of music, books, plays, fashion, architecture, and social customs of the times in which these stories take place add to their immense charm. The books in this series, ten in all (ending in Betsy’s Wedding, 1955) have inspired such devotion that there is to this day a Betsy-Tacy Society that maintains the childhood homes of Maud Hart Lovelace and her friend Bick Kenney in Mankato, Minnesota, as well as protecting the author’s legacy.

In 1953, Maude and Delos Lovelace moved to Claremont, California, after living in New York City for many years. They enjoyed the stimulating atmosphere of the college town, founded its first Episcopal Church, and became involved with the Civil Rights movement. When Delos Lovelace died in 1967 the couple was just shy of their 50th wedding anniversary. Maud Hart Lovelace remained in California, where she died in 1980. She is interred in Mankato, the place she always considered her true home.

Major works

  • The Black Angels (1926)
  • Early Candlelight (1929)
  • Petticoat Court (1930)
  • The Charming Sally (1932)
  • Carney’s House Party (1949)
  • Emily of Deep Valley (1950)
  • The Trees Kneel At Christmas (1951)
  • What Cabrillo Found (1958)
  • The Valentine Box (1966)

Betsy-Tacy series

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Quotes by Maud Hart Lovelace

Maud Hart Lovelace“Isn’t it mysterious to begin a new journal like this? I can run my fingers through the fresh clean pages but I cannot guess what the writing on them will be.” (Betsy in Spite of Herself, 1946)

“Good things come, but they’re never perfect; are they? You have to twist them into something perfect.” (Betsy and the Great World, 1952)

“The most important part of religion isn’t in any church. It’s down in your own heart. Religion is in your thoughts, and in the way you act from day to day, in the way you treat other people. It’s honesty, and unselfishness, and kindness. Especially kindness.” (Heaven to Betsy, 1945)

“I’m finished with something, but I’m not beginning anything. That’s wrong. When you finish something, you ought always to begin something new.” (Emily of Deep Valley, 1950)

“Was life always like that? she wondered. A game of hide and seek in which you only occasionally found the person you wanted to be?” (Betsy and the Great World, 1952)

“What would life be like without her writing? Writing filled her life with beauty and mystery, gave it life…and promise.” (Heaven to Betsy, 1945)

“You might as well learn right now … that the poorest guide you can have in life is what people will say.” (Heaven to Betsy, 1945)

“When there are boys you have to worry about how you look, and whether they like you, and why they like another girl better, and whether they’re going to ask you to something or other. It’s a strain.” (Betsy in Spite of Herself, 1946)

“The silence in the room had width, height, depth, mass and substance.” (Betsy in Spite of Herself, 1946)

“I’ve got to stop thinking about myself so much–about how I look, how I’m impressing someone, whether I’m popular or not. I’ve got to start thinking about other people, all the people I meet.”  (Betsy and Joe, 1948)

“We have to build our lives out of what materials we have. It’s as though we were given a heap of blocks and told to build a house.” (Emily of Deep Valley, 1950)

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