MARJORIE KINNAN RAWLINGS was born to Arthur Frank and Ida May Kinnan on August 8, 1896, in Washington, D.C. She attended the University of Wisconsin, from which she graduated in 1918. At the university she met Charles Rawlings and the couple married in 1919. They moved to Rochester, New York, where Marjorie wrote a column, "Songs of the Housewife," for the local paper; the column was eventually syndicated in about fifty newspapers. In 1928, after visiting northern Florida with Charles's brothers, they decided to buy land in Florida and relocate there. That piece of land in Cross Creek, Florida, would provide the setting for The Yearling and much of Rawlings' other work, both fiction and nonfiction.
Although Marjorie loved rural life, her husband did not, and in 1933 they divorced. She stayed on the farm and continued to pursue a literary career, publishing her first novel, South Moon Under, the same year as her divorce. The novel was greeted with great acclaim, praised for details about life on the "scrub," which she learned by spending several months with swamp hunters, moonshiners, and the few families that populated that area of wilderness, about twenty miles from Rawlings' farm.
It was about this time when Rawlings was taken under the wing of the editor Maxwell Perkins, who also worked with F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, and Thomas Wolfe.Although Perkins was initially dubious that a book about a boy and a deer would be a success, Rawlings' enthusiasm for this project was contagious, and he helped her trim sentimental excess from The Yearling, which was awarded a Pulitzer in 1938. Perkins was also excited about Rawlings' next project, Cross Creek ( 1940), which has been described as a Florida version of On Walden Pond. Cross Creek records Rawlings' observations and comments on her Florida neighbors, whom she admired for their independence and work ethic. While working on Cross Creek, Rawlings finally accepted the marriage proposal of her longtime friend Norton Baskin, although she kept Rawlings as her professional name.
After Cross Creek was published, to favorable reviews, Rawlings was sued by one of her neighbors, Zelma Cason, for libel and invasion of privacy, claiming that Rawlings used her name without permission. When the suit was tried, in 1946, many writers rallied to support Rawlings, as did many of her Cross Creek neighbors. The court found