Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Is Born

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.

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.

Marjorie Kinnan was born in 1896 in Washington, DC, to Frank, an attorney for the US Patent Office, and Ida Traphagen Kinnan. She grew up in the Brookland neighborhood and was interested in writing as early as age six, and submitted stories to the children's sections of newspapers until she was 16. At age 15, she entered a story titled "The Reincarnation of Miss Hetty," for which she won a prize.

She attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she joined Kappa Alpha Theta sorority and received a degree in English in 1918, and met Charles Rawlings while working for the school literary magazine. Kinnan briefly worked for the YWCA editorial board in New York, and married Charles in 1919. The couple moved to Louisville, Kentucky writing for the Louisville Courier-Journal and then Rochester, New York both writing for the Rochester Journal, and Marjorie writing a syndicated column called "Songs of the Housewife."

In 1928, with a small inheritance from her mother, the Rawlingses purchased a 72 acre (290,000 m²) orange grove near Hawthorne, Florida, in a hamlet named Cross Creek for its location between Orange Lake and Lochloosa Lake. She brought the place to international fame through her writing. She was fascinated with the remote wilderness and the lives of Cross Creek residents, her Cracker neighbors, and felt a profound and transforming connection to the region and the land. Wary at first, the local residents soon warmed to her and opened up their lives and experiences to her. Marjorie filled several notebooks with descriptions of the animals, plants, Southern dialect, and recipes and used these descriptions in her writings.