Betty MacDonald (March 26, 1908 – February 7, 1958) was an American author of humorous semi-autobiographical stories and children’s books. Born Anne Elizabeth Campbell Bard in Boulder, Colorado, her father Darsie Bard was an itinerant mining engineer and the family moved constantly until finally settling in Laurelhurst, Seattle, Washington, in 1916. When Darsie died suddenly in 1920, the family was left to cope with severe financial problems that were only alleviated when Betty hit the publishing jackpot with her first book, The Egg and I in 1945.
This was based on her experiences as a young bride on a chicken farm in the Olympic Peninsula’s Chimacum Valley. She had married Robert Eugene Heskett (1895-1951) in 1927, but left him in 1931 to return to Seattle where she worked at several jobs to support herself and her two daughters, Anne and Joan. Read More→
Djuna Barnes (June 12, 1892– June 18, 1982) was an American writer who became well-known in the Parisian avant-garde literary scene of the 1920s and 1930s. Born in Cornwall-on-Hudson, New York, Barnes attended Pratt Institute and the Art Students League of New York. Starting in 1913, she wrote and illustrated for newspapers and magazines, both literary and popular (including Smart Set and Vanity Fair).
Barnes’ first book-length work was The Book of Repulsive Women: 8 Rhythms and 5 Drawings in 1915. It was brief, hardly more than a chapbook. Over the next few years, she wrote plays, a few of which were staged by the Provincetown Players in Cape Cod.
Off to Literary Paris
1920 was the year she left for Paris. Continuing as a journalist, she interviewed expatriate writers and artists. Continuing to pursue her own writing, she established herself as a literary figure in her own right, producing plays, short stories, and poems. Ladies Almanack (1928) was something of a breakout, a satire of the literary lesbian scene of which she was a part, and of which Natalie Barney was a central figure. Read More→
Audre Geraldine Lorde (February 18, 1934 – November 17, 1992) was a self-identified “black lesbian, mother, warrior, poet” who grew up in New York City to West Indian parents. Starting to write at an early age, Lorde was first published in Seventeen magazine while in high school.
As society progressed with the anti-war, feminist and civil rights movements, Audre moved from themes of love to more political and personal matters. She used her platform as a writer to spread ideas and experiences about the intersecting oppressions faced by many people. Her poetry developed an angry aura as she became more involved in activism but developed into an emotionally-supportive outlet and connected her to the world of politics with well-known figures like Langston Hughes. Read More→
Mary O’Hara (July 10, 1885 – October 14, 1980; born Mary O’Hara Alsop) was an American author, screenwriter, and composer, best known for the horse story for all ages, My Friend Flicka. Born in Cape May, New Jersey, she was raised in the Brooklyn Heights, New York, mainly by her father. Her mother died when she was a child.
Against her father’s wishes, in 1905 she married a distant cousin, Kent Kane Parrot. Sadly, their daughter died of skin cancer when in her early teens. The couple, who also had a son, divorced around 1920, after which, Mary began working as a screenwriter in Hollywood. Following the end of her marriage to Parrot, Mary worked as a Hollywood screenwriter. The Prisoner of Zenda became the best known of the screenplays she wrote. Read More→
Jessie Redmon Fauset (April 27, 1882 – April 30, 1961) was an American editor, poet, essayist, and novelist who was deeply involved with the Harlem Renaissance literary movement. Born in Camden County, New Jersey, and raised in Philadelphia, she was the daughter of a Methodist Episcopal minister. Her mother died when she was quite young.
Bright and studious, Jessie Fauset was the first African-American to graduate from the Philadelphia High School for Girls. A stellar student, she wished to continue her studies at Bryn Mawr College but the institution got around admitting a black student by securing a scholarship for her at Cornell University. There she studied classical languages, and later earned a Master’s degree in French from the University of Pennsylvania. Read More→