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A Guide to the Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Papers

Finding aid created by Dept. Staff

University of Florida Smathers Libraries - Special and Area Studies Collections
May 2008

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Rawlings, Marjorie Kinnan, 1896-1953
Title: Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Papers
Dates: 1844-2002
Bulk dates: 1916-1953
Abstract: Correspondence, manuscripts, scrapbooks, legal papers, photographs, and other materials created by or related to the author, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings.
Extent: 42.75 Linear feet.
Identification: MS Group 1
Language(s): English
Online Content Items from this collection have been digitized and are available online in the UF Digital Collections. For more information please see the note below.

Biographical/Historical Note

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.

For a bibliography of her works see Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings: a Descriptive Bibliography by Rodger L. Tarr (1996).

Scope and Content

The Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Papers consist of correspondence, manuscripts and writings, scrapbooks, newspaper clippings, legal papers, and photographs. The collection dates from 1844-2002, with the bulk of the materials spanning from 1916-1953. The collection is divided into five major groups: Correspondence, Manuscripts and Other Writings, Miscellaneous Papers, Papers Related to Ellen Glasgow, and Photographs. These groups, or series, are briefly described below, but more detailed information is provided with the series descriptions.

The correspondence includes approximately 4,100 letters, including approximately 1,400 by Rawlings. The correspondence is divided into two parts: 1) Letters by Rawlings, and 2) Letters to Rawlings and other letters related to her. Correspondents include Maxwell E. Perkins, Sigrid Undset, Archibald Joseph Cronin, Zora Neale Hurston, Margaret Mitchell, James Branch Cabell, Owen D. Young, Gene Baro, Norton Baskin, Charles Rawlings and others.

The writings include early drafts of novels, short fiction, speeches, and poems. Manuscripts, drafts, and notes are included for major works including The Yearling, Cross Creek, The Sojourner, The Secret River, and South Moon Under. In addition to over 30 short stories, there are also autobiographical writings and essays about Marjorie's life and early years at Cross Creek.

The miscellaneous papers include some materials created by Rawlings, but mostly include papers collected by her, or relating to her. They usually originate from her lifetime and have a relationship that makes them a primary source. Secondary and posthumous documents about Rawlings are found in the "Addenda" group. Included here are examples of Christmas greetings from Charles and Marjorie Rawlings, family history, documents collected by Rawlings relating to Zephaniah Kingsley, personal memorabilia, notes on writing, yearbooks and documents from the University of Wisconsin and culinary documents. Related material includes Mickens family letters and documents, two letters by Idella Parker, and documents relating to Charles A. Rawlings, Jr., and to Norton Baskin.

The Ellen Glasgow papers are comprised of material gathered by Rawlings for an intended biography of the 1942 Pulitzer Prize winning author. The documents include correspondence, Rawlings' own manuscript notes, clippings, printed material, and photographs. Many of the letters were copied from correspondence lent Rawlings by Glasgow's family and friends, but some are original, including some of Rawlings' own correspondence.

The photographs include photos of Rawlings at various ages of her life, in group photos, and in various locations such as Cross Creek and Van Hornesville. They also include photos of her family members, friends, and pets.

Access or Use Restrictions


The collection is open for research.

Usage Restrictions

Literary rights to parts of this material belong to the University of Florida Foundation.

Related or Separated Material

Letters and other materials by and about Rawlings exist in several other collections at the University of Florida, including the Brandt and Brandt Papers, the Gene Baro Papers, the Gordon E. Bigelow Papers, the Cason vs. Baskin Cross Creek Trial collection (aka, Phil May Papers), the Edith Pope Papers, the Archives of The Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Society, and an audio recording of an Interview with Rawlings and her maid Martha Mickens.

The originals of Rawlings' letters to Norman Berg are in his papers at the University of Georgia Library. The Scribner Company archives are held at Princeton University.

Administrative Information

Alternative Format Available

Digital reproductions of selected photos and documents in the Rawlings Papers are available online via the University of Florida Digital Collections (UFDC). Please read the Permissions for Use statement for information on copyright, fair use, and use of UFDC digital objects.

Some Rawlings correspondence has been published in the Selected Letters of Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, edited by Gordon E. Bigelow and Laura V. Monti (Gainesville: University Presses of Florida, 1983). Letters to James Branch Cabell, held by Virginia Commonwealth University, are printed in "Selected Letters of Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings to James Branch and Margaret Freeman Cabell," ed. Jacqueline J. Wilken (thesis, Virginia Commonwealth University, 1993). Max and Marjorie, collected correspondence between Perkins and Rawlings, edited by Rodger L. Tarr, was published by the University Press of Florida in 1999. A volume of her letters to Norton Baskin, The Private Marjorie: The Love Letters of Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings to Norton S. Baskin, edited by Rodger L. Tarr, was published by the University Press of Florida in 2004.

Some of the correspondence has been microfilmed. The Smathers Libraries also has microfilm copies of the Perkins correspondence from the Scribner Company archives at Princeton University and the Norman Berg correspondence from the Berg Papers at the University of Georgia.

Alternate Form of Finding Aid

Due to its large size this descriptive finding aid has been broken into several pages, but an alternate full version of the finding aid is available at

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Papers, Special and Area Studies Collections, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida.

Acquisition Information

Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings donated her papers to the University of Florida. Additional donations and purchases have expanded the collection. Other donors and sources include Norton Baskin, his grandniece Judith Oliver, and Phil May, Jr.

Contents List

Abbreviations Used to Describe Documents

AL=Autograph Letter (handwritten but not signed by the author)
ALS=Autograph Letter Signed (handwritten and signed by the author)
AN or a.note=Autograph Note (handwritten note by author)
l or ll.=Leaf or Leaves
TL=Typewritten Letter
TLS=Typewritten Letter Signed

Selected Subjects and Access Terms

Authors, American -- 20th century -- Correspondence.
Cabell, James Branch, 1879-1958.
Cronin, A. J. (Archibald Joseph), 1896-1981.
Glasgow, Ellen Anderson Gholson, 1873-1945.
Novelists, American -- 20th century -- Correspondence.
Perkins, Maxwell E. (Maxwell Evarts), 1884-1947.
Undset, Sigrid, 1882-1949.
Women authors, American -- 20th century -- Correspondence.

For further information, please contact: Special Collections Access Services.

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