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.” Mrs. (Sloaner) Scull, interviewee; Rose Shepherd, interviewer/writer; Jacksonville, Florida, April 11, 1939. American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers’ Project, 1936 to 1940. Manuscript 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.
- Search on the term writer in Today in History to read more about the lives of American writers such as Sherwood Anderson, William Faulkner, Thornton Wilder, and Langston Hughes. Search on Florida to read about topics such as colonial Florida and Florida’s secession.
- Search on Florida in American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers’ Project, 1936 to 1940 to find more recollections of Florida during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Read, for example, the narrative of Julien Philip Benjamin who was born in Ocala, Florida.
- Explore the Florida: State Resource Guide to discover additional primary and secondary sources about the Sunshine State on the Library’s website.
- The collection Florida Folklife from the WPA Collections, 1937 to 1942 is a multi-format ethnographic field collection documenting cultures throughout Florida. It includes children’s songs, blues, and a wide variety of other materials gathered by Works Progress Administration (WPA) workers. Browse the collection by Geographic Location to find material from a number of locations throughout the state. Browse an alphabetical list of recordings to find such titles as Collier in the Scrub, El caballo de palo, and Give Me a Ranch Down in Florida.
- View the Library of Congress online exhibition Women Come to the Front to learn about the emergence of women journalists in American society during World War II.