Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings
(August 8, 1896- December 14, 1953)
Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings was a Pulitzer-winning author who lived in rural Cross Creek, Florida, and wrote novels and stories focusing on rural themes and settings, including The Yearling and Cross Creek.
Marjorie Kinnan was born on August 8, 1896 in Washington D.C. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin in 1918 and became a journalist. In 1919 she married her first husband, Charles Rawlings, and the two lived in New York for several years. In 1928 they left New York and bought an orange grove in Cross Creek, Florida. That same year, her first stories about rural Florida were published: "Cracker Chidlings" and "Jacob's Ladder." This began a long relationship with her editor, Maxwell Perkins of Scribner's.
She and Charles Rawlings divorced in 1933, and Marjorie remained at Cross Creek, concentrating on her writing. Her first novel, South Moon Under, about a family of Florida moonshiners, was published in 1933. Her second novel, Golden Apples, was published in 1935. Her best known work, The Yearling, about a boy who cares for an orphaned fawn, won a Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1939 and was later adapted as a film of the same title (1946). In 1941, she married her second husband, Norton Baskin, a Florida businessman and owner of the Castle Warden Hotel in St. Augustine.
In 1942 Rawlings published Cross Creek, her autobiographical account of life in rural Florida. The book featured many of her neighbors and friends, including her longtime maid, Idella Parker, her friend Zelma Cason, her tenants the Mickens family, and her nearby neighbors the Bass and Glisson families. That same year she also published Cross Creek Cookery, sharing her passion for cooking. In 1943, Rawlings was surprised when Zelma Cason sued her for libel for the manner in which the author had portrayed Cason in Cross Creek. Although Rawlings won the initial case, the trial went to appeal and she was ordered to pay Cason $1 in damages. The case proved to be a great distraction, and it greatly soured Rawlings towards Cross Creek.
For almost seven years, from 1947 until her death in 1953, Rawlings spent part of each year in Van Hornesville, New York, working on her final novel, The Sojourner (1953). When in Florida, she spent most of her time at the Crescent Beach home she and Baskin called "The Cottage." She died on December 14, 1953.
Biography from the UF Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Papers.
For more information: Friends of Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Farm and the Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Historic State Park.