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Bess Streeter Aldrich Books In Order

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Publication Order of Standalone Novels

Mother Mason (1924)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Rim Of The Prairie (1925)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Cutters (1926)Description / Buy at Amazon
A Lantern in Her Hand (1928)Description / Buy at Amazon
A White Bird Flying (1931)Description / Buy at Amazon
Miss Bishop (1933)Description / Buy at Amazon
Spring Came On Forever (1935)Description / Buy at Amazon
Man Who Caught the Weather (1936)Description / Buy at Amazon
Song Of Years (1939)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Drum Goes Dead (1941)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Lieutenant’s Lady (1942)Description / Buy at Amazon
Journey into Christmas (1949)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Collections

Journey Into Christmas and Other Stories (1938)Description / Buy at Amazon
A Bess Streeter Aldrich Treasury (1959)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Man Who Caught the Weather and Other Stories (1975)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Home-Coming and Other Stories (1983)Description / Buy at Amazon
Across the Smiling Meadow & Other Stories (1984)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Collected Short Works, 1907-1919 (1995)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Collected Short Works, 1920-1954 (1999)Description / Buy at Amazon

Bess Streeter Aldrich
Bess Streeter Aldrich was born February 17, 1881 in Cedar Falls, Iowa. She was the youngest of eight children that Mary Streeter and James Wareham had. Attending high school in Cedar Falls, she won two magazine fiction writing contests before she graduating at 17. After she graduated from Iowa State Normal School with her teaching certificate, she taught school at several locations in Utah, before going back to Cedar Falls in order to earn her advanced degree in education.

She married Charles Sweetzer Aldrich in 1907, who had graduated with a law degree from Iowa State University and was one of the youngest captains in the Spanish-American War. Together they had four children (Mary, Robert, Charles, and James). In 1909, they moved with their kids and Bess’ widowed mom to Elmwood, Nebraska, where Bess, Charles, and Bess’ sister and brother-in-law bought the American Exchange Bank. Elmwood became the location for many of Bess’ stories, albeit called different names.

In 1911 Bess started writing much more regularly when the Ladies’ Home Journal advertised a fiction contest, which she entered into and won the $175 prize for her story “The Little House Next Door”. She had written the story in a few afternoons as the baby was napping. Her story was one of the six selected from among about 2,000 entries.

After this success, she kept writing and submitting work to publications like Harper’s Weekly, McCall’s, and The American Magazine where she was typically paid between $1 and $100 for her work.

She would write whenever she found a moment between her household chores and caring for her growing family. Bess once commented that, in the early days, many of her stories were liberally sprinkled with dishwater as she would get down ideas or words as she worked.

Before 1918, she wrote under the pen name of Margaret Dean Stephens. Bess would eventually become one of the highest paid female writers of this period. Her stories often concerned the Heartland/Plains pioneer history and were quite popular with young women and teen girls.

Charles died suddenly of a cerebral hemorrhage at the age of 52 in 1925, and Bess took up writing as a way to support her family. She penned about 200 short stories, including “The Woman Who Was Forgotten” (adapted into a movie of the same name in 1931), and 13 novels, including “Miss Bishop”. This novel was adapted into “Cheers for Miss Bishop” in 1941, which starred Edmund Gwenn and Martha Scott and premiered in Lincoln, Nebraska.

In her fiction, Bess emphasized family values and accurately recorded Midwest pioneering history.

“The Silent Stars Go By” was adapted into “The Gift of Love”, which was a television show that starred Angela Lansbury and Lee Remick. Bess also served as a consultant and writer in Hollywood for Paramount Pictures.

She received her honorary Doctor of Letters degree in literature from the University of Nebraska in 1934 and in 1973 was named to the Nebraska Hall of Fame.

She moved to Lincoln, Nebraska in order to be closer to her daughter and her writing slowed down to only a story per year as her age began taking its toll.

Bess died of cancer in Lincoln Nebraska at the age of 73 on August 3, 1954. She was buried next to her husband in Elmwood, Nebraska.

“Mother Mason” is a short story collection that was released in 1924. Bess is known for her portrayals of witty and wise women whose identities are strengthened, but never smothered, in the bosom of family.

Molly Mason, age 52, is the mom of four fun-loving Masons, devoted wife of the bank president, and is a reliable standby for the library board, the women’s clubs, and missionary society. She’s got a hand in everything which happens in her Midwestern town. In fact, Mother Mason never has any time to do just as she likes. And then one day she makes this headlong dash for liberty and just look out!

“Spring Came on Forever” is a stand alone novel that was released in 1935. One of Bess’ ‘pioneer novels’, it recounts the life of two Americans that head out West into the Nebraska Territory. The two, a blacksmith’s apprentice and a German speaking Lutheran female, fall in love however their plans to marry get thwarted by circumstances. Many years go by, and two descendants of theirs get married and unite two different traditions.

The heroine is Amalia Holmsdorfer, who comes from a band of German immigrants that settle on the prairie. From her late teens to her mid-eighties, she faces and defeats the forces of society and nature which discourage or even ruin others. Her life might be just a modest triumph, except for a single detail: she married the wrong guy.

The novel, which speaks to the German immigration experience in America was a great commercial success consider the period (the Great Depression) between October 1935 and January 1936 and sold more than 45,000 copies. In March of 1936, Bess was offered $20,000 for the film rights, for a musical version by Oscar Hammerstein II and Jerome Kern.

“The Lieutenant’s Lady” is a stand alone novel that was released in 1941. Coming from back East, Linnie Colsworth arrived in Omaha to visit relatives, she was plunged into this more hazardous and wider world than she had ever known. In the Civil War’s wake, land seekers were pouring into the West and displacing the Indian tribes. Even though Omaha was starting to put on social airs, Nebraska was still a raw territory.

Linnie, not one to just take shelter and spend her days serving tea and sewing, traveled up the Missouri in order to deliver a “Dear John” letter to her cousin’s fiance, this handsome lieutenant. And in just a wink became this stranger’s wife. They came to trust and love one another, and their survival out on the frontier required nothing less, and a great deal more, from them than just that. Their harrowing tale is based off the diary of an actual army that recorded the daily weather, both external and internal.

Book Series In Order » Authors » Bess Streeter Aldrich

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