Episode 9: Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings

Dead Writer Drama
Dead Writer Drama
Episode 9: Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings

In this episode, co-hosts Jennifer and Zakiya discuss the life and work of American writer Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, who won the 1939 Pulitzer Prize in fiction for her novel The Yearling. They are joined by writer Ann McCutchan, author of the recent book The Life She Wished to Live: A Biography of Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings.

About The Life She Wished to Live:

Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings was a tough, ambitious, and independent woman who refused the conventions of her early-twentieth-century upbringing. Determined to forge a literary career beyond those limitations, she found her voice in the remote, hardscrabble life of Cross Creek, Florida. There, Rawlings purchased a commercial orange grove and discovered a fascinating world out of which to write―and a dialect of the poor, swampland community that the literary world had yet to hear. She employed her sensitive eye, sharp ear for dialogue, and philosophical spirit to bring to life this unknown corner of America in vivid, tender detail. Her accomplishments came at a price: a failed first marriage, financial instability, a contentious libel suit, alcoholism, and physical and emotional upheaval.

With intimate access to Rawlings’s correspondence and revealing early writings, Ann McCutchan uncovers a larger-than-life woman who writes passionately and with verve, whose emotions change on a dime, and who drinks to excess, smokes, swears, and even occasionally joins in on an alligator hunt. The Life She Wished to Live paints a lively portrait of Rawlings, her contemporaries―including her legendary editor, Maxwell Perkins, and friends Zora Neale Hurston, Ernest Hemingway, and F. Scott Fitzgerald―and the Florida landscape and people that inspired her.

Ann McCutchan is the author of six books, most recently The Life She Wished to Live: A Biography of Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, Author of The Yearling, released in 2021 by W.W. Norton. As well, she is a busy lyricist and librettist, with eight commissioned works, including The Dreamer, an opera based on an original story with composer Mark Alan Taggart, premiered online by the East Carolina University Opera Studio in 2021. Her personal essays have appeared in various journals and The Best American Spiritual Writing.

About the hosts: Jennifer Keishin Armstrong is the author of the New York Times bestseller Seinfeldia and her new book When Women Invented Television. Zakiya Dalila Harris’ debut novel, The Other Black Girl, is a New York Times bestseller and is available from Atria Books in the US, and Bloomsbury Books in the UK.


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