Maud Hart Lovelace
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Maud Hart Lovelace (April 26, 1892 – March 11, 1980) was an American author best known 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. She was the middle of three children born to Thomas and Stella (Palmer) Hart. As soon as she could hold a pencil, she began writing stories and poems.
Maud Hart started her college studies at the University of Minnesota but shortly thereafter had to withdraw when she came diagnosed with appendicitis. More than willing to take a break from her studies and continue her recuperation at her maternal grandmother’s home, she escaped to the sun and warmth of California to rest and recover.
She preferred writing to college
After an uncle loaned her a typewriter, she soon wrote her first story, Number Eight. Only 18 years old at the time, she sold it to the Los Angeles Times Sunday Magazine for ten dollars. This stroke 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 soon seemed less of a draw. She dropped out for good and instead she traveled solo to Europe to gather inspiration for her writing.
During her inspiring year in Europe in 1914, Maud met Paolo Conte, an Italian musician, who later inspired the character Marco in Betsy and the Great World.
Returned home to find great love
Maud returned to Minneapolis at the outbreak of World War I and began working for a fundraising program headed by Mrs. Harry B. Wakefield, the wife of the city editor of the Minneapolis Tribune. It was the spring of 1917 and the Wakefield Publicity Bureau offered Maud a steady day job. She was hired to replace Delos Lovelace, a young writer who was headed off for 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 when Maud was 25 years old. The couple lived apart until 1919, due to Delos’ military service.
They returned to live in Minnesota a few years later and Maud began writing historical novels. Her first novel, The Black Angels, was published in 1926. Several more novels followed over the next decade, including three written with Delos.
Later, the couple divided their time between Minneapolis and New York for several years. After 1928, they lived in New York permanently until their retirement in Claremont, California.
The couple had one daughter, Merian (born in 1931) who was named after Delos’s friend Merian C. Cooper.
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 and eventually, she set them down in writing.
Betsy, Tacy, and Deep Valley
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.
The last book in the series, Betsy’s Wedding, was published in 1955. Maud had planned to write Betsy’s Bettina, but she eventually chose not to. It is possible that the miscarriage of her first child, a son, more than ten years before Merian’s birth, influenced her decision. She wrote to a friend that the last lines of Betsy’s Wedding “were a perfect ending for the series”:
“She was in the land of dreams now, Betsy thought. The future and the past seemed to melt together. She could feel the Big Hill looking down as the Crowd danced at Tib’s wedding in the chocolate-colored house.”
By this time, Maud was a seasoned author, having published numerous short stories and historical novels for adults. But it was the Betsy-Tacy series that sealed her legacy. Historical accuracy and detail were the threads 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, 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.
Maud Hart Lovelace page on Amazon
Maud and Delos Lovelace moved from their home of many years in New York City to Claremont, California in 1952 after he retired from newspaper work. 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 buried in the Glenwood Cemetery in Mankato, with a monument dedicated to her.
More about Maud Hart Lovelace on this site
- The Black Angels (1926)
- Early Candlelight (1929)
- Petticoat Court (1930)
- The Charming Sally (1932)
- Carney’s House Party (1949)
- Emily of Deep Valley (1950)
- Betsy-Tacy (1940)
- Betsy-Tacy and Tib (1941)
- Betsy and Tacy Go Over the Big Hill (1942)
- Betsy and Tacy Go Downtown (1943)
- Heaven to Betsy (1946)
- Betsy in Spite of Herself (1946)
- Betsy Was a Junior (1947)
- Betsy and Joe (1948)
- Betsy and the Great World (1952)
- Betsy’s Wedding (1955)
- The Betsy-Tacy Companion: A Biography of Maud Hart Lovelace
by Sharla Scannell Whalen (1995)
- Maud Hart Lovelace’s Deep Valley
- Maud Hart Lovelace Society
- Betsy-Tacy’s Deep Valley: All Things Maud Hart Lovelace, etc.
- The Betsy-Tacy Society (Mankato, MN)
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