Nebraska Authors

Bess Streeter Aldrich

AKA: Bessie Geneva Streeter Aldrich

Born 1881-02-17 Cedar Falls, IA (USA)

Died 1954-08-03
Lincoln, NE (USA)

Buried
Elmwood, NE (USA)
Elmwood Cemetery

Bess Streeter was born in Cedar Falls, Iowa. After graduating from Iowa State Normal School, she taught school at several locations in the West, later returning to Cedar Falls to earn an advanced degree in education. A writer since early childhood, she won a writing contest at age fourteen and another at seventeen.
In 1907, she married Charles Aldrich. They moved to Elmwood, Nebraska, where Charles, Bess, her widowed mother, and family friends invested and purchased a bank. They had four children—Mary, Robert, Charles and James.
Aldrich began writing more regularly in 1911 when the Ladies' Home Journal advertised a fiction contest, which she entered and won. Prior to 1918 she wrote under her pen name, Margaret Dean Stephens. She went on to become one of the highest-paid women writers of the period. Her stories often concerned Midwestern pioneer history and were very popular with teenage girls and young women.
Aldrich's first novel, Mother Mason, was published in 1924. When Charles died suddenly of a cerebral hemorrhage in 1925, Aldrich took up writing as a means of supporting her family. She was the author of about 200 short stories and thirteen novels, including Miss Bishop. The latter novel was made into a movie, Cheers for Miss Bishop, in 1941. The movie featured Martha Scott and Edmund Gwenn and premiered in Lincoln, Nebraska.
Aldrich received an honorary degree in literature from the University of Nebraska in 1934 and was appointed to the Nebraska Hall of Fame in 1973.

Places Lived

Elmwood, NE
Lincoln, NE
Cedar Falls, IA
Boone, IA
Marshalltown, IA
Tipton, IA
Salt Lake City, UT

Author Of

  • Fiction

Keywords

Novels; Short Stories; Pioneers - Fiction

Education

Iowa State Teachers College (University of Northern Iowa), Cedar Falls, IA
Honorary Doctor of Letters Degree in Literature, 1934, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, NE

Occupation

Teacher
Bank Owner
Homemaker
Novelist

Places Worked

Taught school in Boone, IA
Taught school in Marshalltown, IA
Taught school in Salt Lake City, UT
Writer, Elmwood, NE

Honors

“150 Notable Nebraskans”, Number 32 on the Journal Star Sesquicentennial List of Significant Nebraskans
O. Henry Memorial Award for Best Short Story of the Year, 1928 for The Man Who Caught the Weather
Distinguished Service Medal, Kiwanis Club of Lincoln, 1929
In 1934 she received an Honorary Doctor of Letters Degree in Literature from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, Nebraska
Iowa Authors Outstanding Contributions to Literature Award, 1949
Nebraska State Historical Marker dedicated across the street from her home in Elmwood, NE
52nd Street in Lincoln, NE was renamed Aldrich Road in her honor at the time of her death, 1954
Dedication of bust in Nebraska Hall of Fame, 22 May 1973
Nebraska 150 Books honor for A Lantern in Her Hand , 2017
The Bess Streeter Aldrich Foundation, est. Mar 21, 1978, seeks to recognize Bess Streeter Aldrich as one of the state's finest authors by awarding scholarships in her honor and preserving her writings and memorabilia

Associations

Her son, Robert Aldrich, was a journalist and writer.

Bibliography

Mother Mason. 1924.
The Rim of the Prairie. 1925.
The Cutters. 1926.
A Lantern in Her Hand. 1928.
A White Bird Flying. 1931.
Miss Bishop. 1933.
Spring Came On Forever. 1935.
The Man Who Caught the Weather. 1936.
Song of Years. 1939.
The Drum Goes Dead. 1941.
The Lieutenant's Lady. 1942.
Journey into Christmas and Other Stories. 1949.
The Bess Streeter Aldrich Reader. 1950.
The Home-Coming and Other Stories. 1984.
The Victory of Connie Lee. 1985.
The Collected Short Works: 1907-1919. 1995.
The Collected Short Works, 1920-1954. 1999.

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