Marjorie 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.
A Published Writer aged
Marjorie Kinnan, Washington, D.C.
“The Reincarnation of Miss Hetty,”
(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.
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 Florida
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.
“Real Tales from the
(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
Maxwell Perkins, “Jacob’s
Ladder,” and the Scribner’s Prize
(April 1931): 351-66,
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
Scribner’s headnote to the retitled story
(which earned Rawlings $700) described
her as “one of the real finds” of the
Young Un,” Harper’s Magazine, and
the O. Henry Prize
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.
“Gal Young Un. A Story in Two Parts. I,”
(June 1932): 21-33.