Aldrich, Bess Streeter (1881–1954)

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Aldrich, Bess Streeter (1881–1954)

American author who wrote ten novels and more than 150 short stories. Name variations: (pseudonym) Margaret Dean Stevens. Born in Cedar Falls, Iowa, on February 17, 1881; died in Lincoln, Nebraska, on August 3, 1954; daughter of James and Mary Anderson Streeter; married Charles S. Aldrich, in 1907; children: one daughter, three sons.

Bess Streeter Aldrich's ancestors were pioneers, traveling throughout the Midwest before her parents James and Mary Streeter settled in Iowa. There, Aldrich was born and raised to understand the harshness of frontier life. Though her family had left the poverty behind, she heard detailed stories of her history from her grandparents, and this tradition was to be the subject of much of her writing.

Bess was just 17 when her first story was published. It would not be followed by another Aldrich work until 1911, when she wrote under the pseudonym Margaret Dean Stevens. After attending the State Teacher College in Iowa, she taught for six years. In 1907, she married Charles S. Aldrich, a lawyer and one-time captain in the Spanish American War. The Aldrichs stayed in Iowa, and Bess returned to writing. Not until 1925, when Charles Aldrich died, did Bess consider writing as a profession to support her four children. In that year, she published The Rim of the Prairie. Her 1928 book, A Lantern in Her Hand, became a bestseller (both were reprinted by the University of Nebraska Press, 1994).

In 1946, Aldrich moved from Elmwood to Lincoln, Nebraska, to live next to her daughter. By the time of her death eight years later, Aldrich had produced 10 novels and more than 150 stories.

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Aldrich, Bess Streeter (1881–1954)

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