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Today in History - August 8

Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings

Journalist, short-story writer, and novelist Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings was born on August 8, 1896, in Washington, D.C. Rawlings is best known for her Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Yearling (1938), the story of young Jody Baxter’s coming of age in the big scrub country which is now the Ocala National Forest in Florida.

As she answered the door, she held in her hand a copy of Marjorie Kinnan Rawling’s “The Yearling.” “That’s a great book,” she remarked, as she laid the volume on the library table in the front hall — “So true to the ‘cracker’ life and customs. And I remember the storm she tells about.”

Ruby Beach,” p. 1. Interview with Mrs. Eleanor Scull, Jacksonville, Florida. Rose Shepherd, interviewer. April 11, 1939. American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers’ Project, 1936 to 1940, Manuscript Division.

Portrait of Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, Carl Van Vechten, photographer, January 18, 1953. Van Vechten Collection, Prints & Photographs Division.
Rawlings began her career as a journalist, working for the Louisville Courier-Journal and the Rochester Journal. In 1926 she began writing a daily poetry column, “Songs of a Housewife,” for the Rochester Times-Union. The column was soon syndicated by United Features and ran in approximately fifty newspapers. Rawlings settled at Cross Creek, near Gainesville, Florida, in 1928, in order to write fiction. Cross Creek, published in 1942, tells of her enchantment with this part of rural Florida. Her association with Cross Creek continued until her death in 1953 at the age of fifty-seven.
Florida, sunset on the Ocklawaha [i.e. Oklawaha], William Henry Jackson, photographer, c1899. Detroit Publishing Company, Prints & Photographs Division.

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