Bess Streeter Aldrich: Contribution as American Novelist

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      Bess Streeter Aldrich (nickname, Margaret Dean Stevens) (1881-1954) American novelist and short-story writer. Daughter of pioneer settlers, she was born in Cedar Falls, Iowa, attended local schools and the Iowa state teachers' college, and taught for six years in Iowa and Utah. In 1907 she married Charles S. Aldrich, a banker and lawyer, with whom she settled in Elmwood, Nebraska, and had four children.

      Aldrich began publishing short stories in 1911 and after her husband died, in 1925, she wrote to support the family. Her ten novels, beginning with The Rim of the Prairie (1925), concentrate on the settlement of the Mississippi Valley region. In her bestselling A Lantern in Her Hand (1928), Aldrich pays tribute to her pioneer mother. The heroine of Miss Bishop (1933; filmed 1941) dedicates her life to teaching after being disappointed in love. Song of Years (1939) chronicles the growth of Cedar Falls into an industrial city. The title character of The Lieutenant's Lady (1942) is a 19th-century army wife living on the frontier. Aldrich wrote over 150 short stories concentrating on small-town family life, collected in The Man Who Caught the Weather (1936), Journey into Christmas (1949), The Bess Streeter Aldrich Reader (1950) and A Bess Streeter Aldrich Treasury (1959).

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