In the late 1920s, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings and her husband, Charles, thought a simpler life than journalism might be just the thing to save their failing marriage, so they bought a 72 acre orange grove at Cross Creek, outside Hawthorn, Florida.
The first few years Ms Rawlings tried her hand at both farming and short fiction. She submitted a number of stories about the Florida hammock to Scribners where they were read by Max Perkins, one of the finest editors of the 20th century. Mr. Perkins suggested she write something more than short stories which lead Ms Rawlings to move deep into the scrub and live with an old woman and her moonshiner son.
Her experiences in the scrub were mirrored in her first book, SOUTH MOON UNDER. Perkins wasn’t shocked by her use of four-letter words (after all he was Hemingway’s editor), but felt that Ms Rawlings should consider a book with a similar theme for young readers centering on her boy character, Lant. While she liked Perkins’ suggestion, she was already writing GOLDEN APPLES, an “English” novel which, when published, only garnered mediocre reviews.
Now, free to heed Perkins’s advice, she took up residence in an abandoned cabin to write a book about a boy raising an animal in the scrub. A year into the writing Rawlings, disgusted with the book, threw out the manuscript and began again. Finally, in 1937, Scribner’s published THE YEARLING. Both reviews and sales were through the roof, landing Ms. Rawlings the Pulitzer Prize for 1939 and gifting to the world, one of the most endearing boy/animal stories of all time.