Bess Streeter Aldrich

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Bess Streeter Aldrich (February 17, 1881 – August 3, 1954) was an American author.

Life and career[edit]

Bess Genevra Streeter was born in Cedar Falls, Iowa. She was the last of the eight children of James Wareham and Mary Wilson Anderson Streeter. After graduating from Iowa State Normal School, she taught school at several locations in the west, later returning to Cedar Falls to earn an advanced degree in education. A writer since early childhood, she won a writing contest at age fourteen and another at seventeen.

In 1907, she married Charles Sweetzer Aldrich, who had graduated with a law degree from Iowa State University and had been one of the youngest captains in the Spanish-American War. Following the war, he served for years as a U.S. Commissioner in Alaska. They had four children—Mary, Robert, Charles and James. In 1909, they moved with their children and Bess's widowed mother to Elmwood, Nebraska, where Charles, Bess, and Bess's sister and brother-in-law Clara and John Cobb purchased the American Exchange Bank. Elmwood became the location for many of her stories, albeit called by different names.[1]

Aldrich began writing more regularly in 1911 when the Ladies' Home Journal advertised a fiction contest, which she entered and won. Prior to 1918 she wrote under her pen name, Margaret Dean Stephens.[2] She went on to become one of the highest-paid women writers of the period. Her stories often concerned Midwestern pioneer history and were very popular with teenage girls and young women.

Aldrich's first novel, Mother Mason, was published in 1924. When Charles died suddenly of a cerebral hemorrhage in 1925, Aldrich took up writing as a means of supporting her family. She was the author of about 200 short stories, including "The Woman Who Was Forgotten," and thirteen novels, including Miss Bishop. The latter novel was made into a movie Cheers for Miss Bishop (1941), which starred Martha Scott and Edmund Gwenn and premiered in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Aldrich received an honorary Doctor of Letters degree in literature from the University of Nebraska in 1934 and was named into the Nebraska Hall of Fame in 1973. She died in Lincoln on August 3, 1954.

Two-story house with low-pitched roof; brick below, clapboard above
The Elms, Aldrich's home in Elmwood, Nebraska, is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

[3]

Works[edit]

Novels[edit]

  • Mother Mason (1924)
  • The Rim of the Prairie (1925)
  • The Cutters (1926)
  • A Lantern in Her Hand (1928)
  • A White Bird Flying (1931)
  • Miss Bishop (1933)
  • Spring Came On Forever (1935)
  • The Man Who Caught the Weather (1936)
  • Song of Years (1939)
  • The Drum Goes Dead (1941)
  • The Lieutenant's Lady (1942)
  • Journey into Christmas (1949)
  • The Bess Streeter Aldrich Reader (1950)
  • A Bess Streeter Aldrich Treasury (1959) (posthumous)

Other books[edit]

  • The Collected Short Works, 1907–1919
  • The Collected Short Works, 1920–1954

References[edit]

External links[edit]