Introduction | Early Writings | First Novels | The Yealing, 1983 | Following Up Success | Cross Creek, 1942 | After Cross Creek | Later Writings | Some Posthumous Publications | References

Early Writings

Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings

Marjoriemarjorie kinnan rawlings as a college student Kinnan Rawlings as a College Student
From “Representative Women,” University of Wisconsin Yearbook, 1918.

Marjorie Kinnan, born in Washington, D.C. in 1896, moved with her mother to Madison, Wisconsin, after her father died in 1913, and graduated from the University there in 1918.  

reincarnation of miss hetty (mccall's magazine, aug 1912)

A Published Writer aged 15
Marjorie Kinnan, Washington, D.C.
“The Reincarnation of Miss Hetty,”
McCall’s Magazine 
(August 1912): 27, 72.

This prize-winning story, about a older single woman living alone, a child, and a dog, prefigures several of Rawlings’s later themes.

charles & marjorie rawlings

Marriage and Journalism

Soon after graduation, Marjorie married a fellow-writer Charles Rawlings, and in the 1920's she made an initially- successful career as a journalist in Rochester, N.Y., producing hundreds of columns (chiefly for women) and humorous short poems.   

The Move to Floridacross creek

Charles had more difficulty in his career, and in 1928 the couple moved to central Florida, where they bought a house and orange grove, Cross Creek.  The move gave a new impetus and realism to her writing, and she remained at Cross Creek after their marriage ended in divorce in 1932.  By then she was gaining recognition as an author, and she kept the Rawlings name.

cracker chidlings  (scribner's magazine, feb 1931)

“Real Tales from the Florida Interior”
“Cracker Chidlings,”
Scribner’s Magazine 
(February 1931): 127-134.

This group of short sketches based on life among the Florida Crackers first introduced readers to the world Rawlings would explore in her later novels.  The Scribner’s editor who accepted it, Alfred Dashiell, had previously rejected some of Rawlings’s more conventional ‘slick’ short stories.  The lead story in the issue was Ernest Hemingway’s “The Fighter.”

Maxwell Perkins, “Jacob’s Ladder,” and the Scribner’s Prizejacob's ladder (scribner's magazine, apr 1931)
“Jacob’s Ladder,”
Scribner’s Magazine 
(April 1931): 351-66, 446-464.

Emboldened by her first success with Scribner’s, Rawlings submitted for the Scribner’s Prize Novel competition a longer novella, “High Wind,” about a Florida couple in a hurricane.  It was forwarded to the legendary Scribner’s editor Maxwell Perkins, editor also of F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, and Thomas Wolfe,  who encouraged Rawlings to revise and retitle her work "Jacob's Ladder".  The Scribner’s headnote to the retitled story (which earned Rawlings $700) described her as “one of the real finds” of the competition.

 “Gal Young Un,” Harper’s Magazine, and the O. Henry Prizegal young un (harper's magazine, jun 1932)
“Gal Young Un. A Story in Two Parts. I,”
Harper’s Magazine 
(June 1932): 21-33.

This story, about a lonely middle-aged woman who marries and is exploited by a bootlegger, which Rawlings regarded as a “pot-boiler,” won Rawlings the first prize of $500 in the O. Henry Memorial Short Story Prizes, and publication in the annual O. Henry volume alongside Erskine Caldwell and F. Scott Fitzgerald.    



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