Maud Hart Lovelace
A storied childhood
Maud Hart Lovelace's career began with a bedtime story. She used to lull her daughter to sleep with stories of her childhood in Mankato, Minnesota. The town was only forty years old when Maud was born, and what Maud remembered was playing on the hills surrounding the town, viewing the Minnesota River from atop the hills, and, of course, the friends and family members that enlivened her days.
In 1940, Lovelace published a book, Betsy-Tacy, based on her childhood memories. In the book, Mankato became "Deep Valley" and Maud became "Betsy," and a host of other remembered places and people became part of her tales. Lovelace was already a published author by the time she wrote Betsy-Tacy. Her first novel, The Black Angels, was published in 1926, followed three years later by Early Candlelight. But it was the stories she wrote using her own diaries, letters, and prodigious memory that truly captured readers' imaginations. She never intended Betsy-Tacy to begin a series, but because of its success, she continued to write. The series begins when Betsy and her friends turn five, takes them through high school and college, and ends with Betsy's wedding. A volume was published every year until 1955. Lovelace published many books in her lifetime, including thirteen in the Betsy-Tacy series, four others for children, and eight for adults.
In recent years, the formation of a Betsy-Tacy Society has brought renewed interest to the series. A bronze plaque on a stone bench at the top of Center Street in Mankato reads, "To honor Maud Hart Lovelace, who here began the childhood daydreams that one day would be our window to the past."
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