Updated January 21, 2021
Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings was born in 1896 and died in 1953 in St. Augustine, Florida.
She was born in Washington, D.C., but moved with her mother to Madison, Wisconsin after her father died in 1913.
She graduated from the University of Wisconsin in 1918, and married Charles Rawlings in 1919.
For most of the next 10 years, she and Charles worked in Rochester, New York, writing for the local newspaper.
In 1928 they bought a 72 acre orange grove in the tiny settlement of Cross Creek, Florida.
Cross Creek is so named because of its location on a small creek that connects Orange Lake and Lochloosa Lake.
It is about halfway between Gainesville and Ocala on one of Florida's many unspoiled rural back roads.
She and Charles divorced in 1933. He didn't like the country life in Florida, and Marjorie did. She lived for many years in Cross Creek, Florida, and wrote compelling fiction based on the Florida Crackers and Florida Blacks that were part of her life in that little North Central Florida village.
Some of her Cross Creek neighbors were not too happy with her portrayal of them in her stories and books. Her observations, however, helped make her one of the most famous Florida authors.
Her first novel about these people was "South Moon Under". She told the story of a young man who must support his family by selling moonshine.
This book was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, but didn't win. But Marjorie's reputation as one of the leading Florida authors was established.
Her most famous work is "The Yearling".
The book is about a boy, Jody, who adopts an orphaned fawn. Jody is forced to shoot his pet when the deer grows up and eats the family's crops.
The book won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1939, and was later made into a movie in 1946 with Gregory Peck, Jane Wyman and Claude Jarman, Jr.
Claude Jarman, Jr. visited Cross Creek for the first time on February 17, 2011. Here is a neat article about that visit: Claude Jarman, Jr. Interview.
In 1942 she published "Cross Creek", an autobiographical account of her life with her neighbors.
She followed this with "Cross Creek Cookery". I still have this cookbook and use her recipe for shrimp pilau. We pronounce it "perloo" here in Florida.
It is more than a cookbook, it is a wonderful rambling story about Marjorie's love of Florida and Florida cooking.
Marjorie loved to cook and once said she'd get as much satisfaction from preparing a perfect dinner for a few good friends as from turning out a perfect paragraph in her writing.
Her final novel, "The Sojourner" was published just before she died in 1953. To me, this book is almost as much of a tear jerker as "The Yearling". It's not a Florida novel, however, it has a northern setting.
It's a story about this poor guy who spends his life sacrificing for his mother and bummy older brother. His mother doesn't like him and favors the older brother.
It's a miserable life for this guy, and then he dies.
Over the years, Marjorie built friendships with her editor, Maxwell Perkins, and her fellow writers Ernest Hemingway, Thomas Wolfe, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Robert Frost and Margaret Mitchell.
With money she made from "The Yearling", she bought a beach cottage at Crescent Beach ten miles south of St. Augustine.
In 1941 Rawlings married a Florida hotel man, Norton Baskin. He renovated an old mansion in St. Augustine into the Castle Warden Hotel.
After World War II, he sold the hotel and managed the Dolphin Restaurant at Marineland, which was then Florida's number one tourist attraction.
The old Castle Warden Hotel is now the home of Ripley's Believe It Or Not Museum.
Rawlings and Baskin made their primary home at Crescent Beach, and they continued their separate occupations independently.
Their independence was legendary among their friends. When a visitor to the Castle Warden Hotel said she saw the influence of Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings in the decor, Baskin protested:
"You do not see Mrs. Rawlings's fine hand in this place", he said. "Nor will you see my big foot in her next book. That's our agreement. She writes. I run a hotel."
Rawlings befriended and corresponded with famous black educator Mary McLeod Bethune and black author Zora Neale Hurston during her years in Florida.
Zora visited Marjorie at Cross Creek, but in keeping with Florida race relations of the time, she had to sleep with Idella, the black maid, in the "tenant house," not in Marjorie's house.
Her views on race relations were much different than her neighbors, and she criticized white Southerners for treating blacks like infants. She considered the economic condition of southern blacks to be scandalous.
Ironically, however, she seems to have considered whites to be superior to blacks. It shows in much of her writing. For example, she described her African-American employee Idella as "the perfect maid."
Their relationship is described in the book "Idella: Marjorie Rawlings'Perfect Maid'", by Idella Parker and Mary Keating.
Rawlings died in 1953 in St. Augustine of a cerebral hemorrhage. She bequeathed most of her property to the University of Florida, a fitting legacy for a famous Florida author. Rawlings Hall, a dormitory there, is named for her. When I attended the University of Florida, I was not aware of that fact.
Her home at Cross Creek is now the Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Historic State Park. Her gravesite is a few miles away at Antioch Cemetery. It is a bumpy ride on an unpaved road to her final resting place. The hearse no doubt had to drive even more slowly than usual to get there.
Norton Baskin survived Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings by 44 years, passing away in 1997. He was well known and well liked in St. Augustine. Many locals and tourists got to know him, especially when he managed the restaurant at Marineland.
Marjorie and Norton are buried side-by-side at Antioch Cemetery near Island Grove, Florida. Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings's tombstone, with the inscription created by Norton Baskin, reads:
"Through her writing she endeared herself to the people of the world."
The reputation of Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings has managed to outlive those of many of her contemporaries. Movies have been made from her work long after her death. These include the movie "Cross Creek".
A visit to Marjorie's home in Cross Creek, and dinner at "The Yearling Restaurant", is a treat for anyone fond of this famous Florida author and her work. The home is perfectly maintained by the Florida State Park Service. You get the feeling that Marjorie is off on an errand and will be back at any minute.
She wrote most of her stuff on the porch, and her old typewriter is still there on a weathered cypress table. Her bookshelves are full of interesting volumes, and much of her clothes and furnishings are still there.
Place, or the sense of place, was very important to Marjorie. There is something special about her place at Cross Creek. You will notice it when you visit. There are secrets in the air. You can feel them, and you want to know what they are because they are good secrets.
MARJORIE KINNAN RAWLINGS FLORIDA BOOKS
Here is a listing of some of Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings's novels and books:
She also wrote and published 33 short stories from 1912 to 1949.
More information about the town of Cross Creek and The Yearling Restaurant is available on this website at Cross Creek, Florida.
Jack Rudloe was born in New York in 1943 and moved to Florida as a boy and began his self-education as a marine biologist.
In 1964 he founded the Gulf Specimen Company of Panacea, Florida, which collects marine specimens for laboratories around the world.
A few years later, he began writing personal narratives that blend science and philosophy as they explore contemporary problems of marine ecology.
Inspired by an early correspondence with John Steinbeck, Rudloe’s works combine concrete descriptions of the coastal environment’s ecological diversity with philosophical speculations on life and death, coastal development, and the struggle between the human desire for knowledge and nature’s need to exist untouched.
His first books, The Sea Brings Forth (1968) and The Erotic Ocean (1971), focus on specimen collecting. The Living Dock at Panacea (1977), a more autobiographical work, describes a year in the life of the dock in front of his home on Dickerson Bay. The Time of the Turtle (1978) and Search for the Great Turtle Mother (1995) traces the life cycle and mythologies of the sea turtle. The Wilderness Coast (1988), and Shrimp, the Endless Quest for Pink Gold (2009), describe numerous forays after rare sea creatures. He also published two novels, Potluck (2003) and Chicken Wars (2005).
These books were republished in multiple editions and have received over a hundred favorable reviews including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Publisher’s Weekly and Science News. All Rudloe books are available in Kindle Editions.
Numerous well-known authors have provided jacket quotes for his books.
Among them are James Dickey, (author of Deliverance), Edward O. Wilson (Sociobiology, Diversity of Life) Randy Wayne White, (Caribbean Run, The Man Who Invented Florida, Doc Ford series), Jimmy Buffet (Tales from Margaretville, A Salty Piece of Land) Peter Matthiesen, Killing Mr. Watson, At Play in the Fields of the Lord) and Joe Hutto (Illumination in the Flatwoods, A Light in High Places).
Rudloe has contributed articles to such naturalist periodicals as Audubon, National Geographic, Smithsonian, Sports Illustrated and Natural History, many of them coauthored with his late wife, Anne Rudloe.
Between 1975 and 2001 they published 16 scientific peer reviewed publications. Their manuscripts and papers are archived at the University of Florida’s Smathers Library’s Special and Area Studies Collections outstanding Florida authors.
The Rudloes received the Environmental Law Institute’s National Wetlands Award, and the Chevron-Texaco Conservation Award and many others.
The recognition he treasures most is Smithsonian Institution naming a deadly Madagascar sea wasp jellyfish Chiropsella rudloei, after him--- a fitting name, due to his stinging attacks on developers and polluters.
There have been over 30 articles about Jack Rudloe in magazines and newspapers, including features in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Sports Illustrated and Audubon.
More information about Jack and his books is available at:
Jack Rudloe, President
Gulf Specimen Marine Laboratories, Inc.
222 Clark Drive
Panacea, Florida 32346
Patrick Smith was born in 1927 and died on January 26, 2014. He spent most of his adult life living in Merritt Island, Florida.
He is one of the best known contemporary Florida authors.
He was born in Mississippi and moved to Florida in 1966, and has Bachelor and Master degrees in English from the University of Mississippi.
Smith is the author of seven novels and two non-fiction books. He is also co-author of the non- fiction book The Last Ride and author of the non-fiction book In Search of The Russian Bear.
Smith has been nominated three times for the Pulitzer Prize: in 1973 for Forever Island; in 1978 for Angel City; and in 1984 for A Land Remembered.
In the annual "The Best of Florida" poll taken by Florida Monthly Magazine, A Land Remembered has been ranked the No. 1 Best Florida Book eight times.
Patrick is a 1999 inductee into the Florida Artists Hall of Fame, which is the highest and most prestigious cultural honor that can be bestowed upon an individual by the state of Florida.
He has received many other awards, and his lifetime work was nominated in 1985 for the Nobel Prize for literature.
This Florida author specializes in historical novels that capture the Florida Cracker culture.
He paints realistic word pictures of the people that most of us long time Floridians know very well.He writes about families who came down here just before and after the Civil War and worked the land, bought more land, and became ranchers and citrus growers and farmers.
Their descendants quite often became rich.For example, in the best seller "A Land Remembered", he tells the story of three generations of the MacIveys. They rise from a dirt-poor Florida Cracker life to the wealth and standing of real estate tycoons in those three generations.
The story opens in 1858, when Tobias MacIvey arrives in the Florida wilderness to start a new life with his wife and infant son. It ends two generations later with his grandson, Solomon MacIvey, who realizes that the land has been exploited far beyond human need.
The story is about a rugged Florida history with indomitable Crackers battling wild animals, rustlers, mosquitoes, starvation, hurricanes, and freezes.Their biggest enemy turns out to be greed, including their own.
This book reminds me of many Florida families I have known in Brevard County, Orange County and Osceola County.
Their names are well known throughout the state.
"A Land Remembered" was winner of the Florida Historical Society Tebeau Prize as the Most Outstanding Florida Historical Novel. This is a coveted award among Florida authors who specialize in historical fiction.
It is essential reading for one who wants to understand the history of Florida and the Florida Cracker.
In 1990, Florida PBS-TV released a documentary, "VISIONS OF NATURE, Patrick Smith's Florida," which portrays his work as a writer and his "on-the-site" research.
In 2007 Panorama Studios released a documentary, "Patrick Smith's Florida, A SENSE OF PLACE," that has won several top film awards.By an act of the 2006 Florida Legislature, a section of a SR 520 running from East Merritt Island across the Banana River to Cocoa Beach, was named the Patrick D. Smith Causeway.
ABOUT PATRICK SMITH FLORIDA BOOKS
Here is a list of his books, including ones with Florida settings marked *:
(1953) The River Is Home
(1967) The Beginning
(1973) Forever Island*
(1978) Angel City*
(1984) A Land Remembered*
(2007) White Deer & Other Stories*
The Patrick Smith family website has a wealth of information about the author, his books and DVD, plus a convenient place to shop.
The website is managed by Patrick's son Rick, and has some things not found elsewhere. A Land Remembered is popular among all ages, and special student versions with teaching guide are available.
Harriet Beecher Stowe was born on June 14, 1811 and died on July 1, 1896.
She was one of Florida's first "snow birds", wintering at her home on the St Johns River near Jacksonville.
Her most famous novel, "Uncle Tom's Cabin", depicted life for African-Americans under slavery.
The book reached millions as a novel and play, and became influential in the U.S. and Britain and made the political issues of the 1850s regarding slavery seem real and horrible to millions of people.
The novel energized anti-slavery forces in the American North, while provoking widespread anger in the South.
Upon meeting Stowe, Abraham Lincoln allegedly remarked, "So you're the little woman that started this Great War!"
Born in Litchfield, Connecticut, Beecher Stowe was the daughter of an outspoken religious leader, Lyman Beecher. She was the sister of the educator and author, Catherine Beecher, clergymen Henry Ward Beecher and Charles Beecher.
In the 1870s and 1880s, Stowe and her family wintered in Mandarin, south of Jacksonville on the St. Johns River. Mandarin can be reached by following State Road 13 south out of Jacksonville along the eastern bank of the St. Johns River.
Stowe wrote "Palmetto Leaves" while living in Mandarin, an early promotional book directed at Florida's potential Northern investors at the time.
The book was published in 1873 and describes Northeast Florida and its residents. Stowe shows an ideal life of picnicking, sailing and river touring expeditions.
In 1870, Stowe created an integrated school in Mandarin for children and adults. This was an early step toward providing equal education in the area and predated the national movement toward integration by more than a half century.
The marker commemorating the Stowe family is located across the street from the former site of their cottage.
It is on the property of the Community Club, at the site of a church where Stowe's husband once served as a minister.
The Harriet Beecher Stowe Garden is a nice place to visit at the Mandarin Museum. The three raised beds feature crops grown in Mandarin in the 19th Century.
Some of the crops were mentioned in "Palmetto Leaves" in the chapter entitled "Our Experience in Crops."
Some of Stowe's books include:
Some of her books are still available at Amazon.
David T Warner was born in 1948 and died on January 3, 2012. Toward the end of his life he lived in Lochloosa, near Cross Creek, Florida.
He was very skilled in describing Old Florida and the Florida Crackers that used to live here along with their modern ancestors.
His family were Florida pioneers. Among them were his grandfather, Senator J. Turner Butler, and his great uncle former Sheriff Jim Turner.
Warner wrote many articles and short stories for literary, New Age, regional and national magazines and was one of the most prolific Florida authors.
He was also a contributing editor to "Gulfshore Life"and "Sarasota Magazine". He wrote and produced two travel videos, "Bimini By The Sea", and "Cowboys and Indians and UFO's."
Warner was one of the contributing authors of "A Book Lovers Guide To Florida" that talks about Florida authors and where they lived and worked.
Warner wandered around Florida and was a keen observer of the people he met along the way.
In earlier days he lived in Sarasota and was a friend of John D. MacDonald and some other famous Florida authors. He and MacDonald and other well known Florida authors, artists and cartoonists used to meet at a "liar's lunch" every Friday afternoon. Among the other attendees were author Borden Deal and "Hagar the Horrible" creator Dik Browne.
One of Warner's other adventures was owning the Sarasota adult movie theater where Pee Wee Herman got busted by the cops. Warner was an absentee owner when it happened, but he told some interesting stories about those days.
Warner loved Bimini, and once interviewed "the other Hemingway" down there: Papa's brother Leicester.
ABOUT DAVID T. WARNER FLORIDA BOOKS
Here is a listing of some of David T Warner's books that have a Florida theme and setting:
David T. Warner also published numerous articles and short stories with Florida themes and settings.
Randy Wayne White was born in 1950 and is alive and well and living in Southwest Florida.
Many of his novels feature the adventurous Doc Ford, a marine biologist with a mysterious military past who lives on Sanibel Island.
He has become one of the best known Florida authors, is well known by many of his Southwest Florida neighbors, and is involved in many community organizations.
He is also active with Doc Ford's Sanibel Rum Bar & Grill on Sanibel Island, and another in Fort Myers Beach.
Mr. White was a fishing guide for 13 years, operating out of the Tarpon Bay Marina on Sanibel Island.
I have always assumed that Randy Wayne White was a fan of the late John D. MacDonald and his fictional hero, Travis McGee.
When MacDonald died in 1986, maybe Mr. White mourned the loss like many other fans. Unlike the other fans, however, he did something about it.
He "discovered" Doc Ford and began to write about him and his adventures. Randy's first Doc Ford novel was published in 1990.
Doc is a marine biologist with a murky background. He used to be a CIA special operative or a Navy Seal or both. He tries to live a quiet life at Dinkins Pass Marina in his combination stilt house and marine laboratory.
His aging hippie friend Tomlinson lives in an anchored sailboat not far from Doc's place.
Circumstances always intervene and lead Doc into harrowing adventures. His former government spook activities always serve him well.
Although Tomlinson is stoned most of the time, in his more lucid moments he assists Doc on these adventures.
It might have appeared to the reading world that White just showed up out of nowhere with his Doc Ford series. Actually, he made his bones the hard way, writing many novels under assumed names (Randy Striker, Carl Ramm), while working full time as a fishing guide.
He also wrote a lot of non-fiction travel and fishing guides.
White is a true adventurer in the mold of Ernest Hemingway and Jack London. He is a world traveler and has done a lot of exciting things.
He has dog sledded in Alaska, helped re-introduce little league baseball in Castro's Cuba, and used his boat to carry Cuban refugees to safety during the Mariel boatlift.
Randy Wayne White is a prolific writer. He wrote 18 fiction novels under pen names before finding Doc Ford. Many of these have Florida settings.
In 1990 he began writing the Doc Ford series, all set in Florida.
Among the many awards he has won for his fiction is the "John D. MacDonald Award for Literary Excellence".
He has also written dozens of non-fiction books.
Here is a listing of some of Randy's works:
Fiction by "Randy Striker"
Fiction by "Carl Ramm"
Doc Ford Novels
Randy has also created a new character, Hannah Smith, a strong woman with deep Florida roots who works as a fishing guide and helps people solve problems.
Hannah Smith Novels
Randy Wayne White has also written dozens of non-fiction books, including "Batfishing In The Rainforest", "The Sharks Of Lake Nicaragua", and many others. Of all Florida authors, he is certainly one of the most versatile.
More information is available at his website Randy Wayne White.
A native Pennsylvanian who loved books even before she learned to read, Lynne began turning out stories almost as soon as she learned to write.
As a junior high school student she was thrilled to have some of her articles concerning school activities published in her town’s local newspaper. After writing for the school paper during her first two years of high school, she was named editor for her last two years, and then was honored to be appointed editor for her senior class year book.
There wasn’t much time for writing while she attended classes in Pittsburgh and upon completion became a registered nurse. Following a year of graduate work at the Neurological Institute in New York City while also attending writing courses at Hunter College, Lynne returned to Pennsylvania to the Pittsburgh Medical Center, where she worked, studied, passed the State Boards, and became a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist.
She put people to sleep in Johnstown, Pennsylvania for a few years and also fell in love with a handsome intern in the O.R. They married and moved to Philadelphia where he completed a surgical residency while she gave anesthesia, and then raised their family, a daughter and two sons before they all moved to Cleveland, Ohio.
Lake Erie in your backyard can’t be ignored, and before long the family took the plunge and bought what would be the first of many boats. From then on, boating would play a big part in their lives. Family trips on all the Great Lakes and nearby rivers were relaxing, educational and sometimes terrifying, but always a way for the family to share exciting times and most importantly, share them together.
As the children grew and required less attention, Lynne spent more time writing and was delighted and amazed when her work began to be accepted and published in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the Hartford Courant and other respected publications.
When the children were off on their own, Lynne and her husband, who was retiring, decided to move to Florida and to make that move all the way from Cleveland, across Lake Ontario and the state of New York, and down the Atlantic Coast on their boat. By then, they were pretty proficient boaters, but Lynne added to her experience before they left by completing a live-aboard week-long women’s boating course in Annapolis, Maryland, an excellent learning experience and a unique source of fascinating facts to be stored for future writing.
The boat trip to their new home was even more magical and memorable than they expected and they were delighted with their new life in Florida.
Little did she know when she responded to a classified ad in a writers’ magazine that she was about to embark on a long, gratifying association with the Globe Pequot Publishers in Guilford, Connecticut. Since 2001, they have published nine of her books about the people and some of the fascinating happenings in Florida, the state her family now calls home.
Her Globe Pequot books:
She has also had short stories published in magazines and in the following fiction anthologies:
Lynne is a founding member of the National Women’s History Museum and a long-time member of the International Women’s Writing Guild. She joined the Space Coast Writers’ Guild shortly after moving to Florida and has served on the Board and won several prizes for her short stories in the Guild.
She has participated in workshops, presentations and projects for the:
Lynne has continued to write, both non-fiction and fiction and is currently preparing a novel and a collection of short stories for submission.
Nick Wynne was born in the 1940s and lives in Rockledge, Florida. Although he has lived in Florida most of his life, he was raised in McRae, Georgia.
He has Bachelor, Master's, and Doctoral degrees from the University of Georgia and taught at several colleges.
He also served a three year hitch in the U.S. Army.
He was the Executive Director of the Florida Historical Society from 1987 to 2008.
Nick published his first book in 1986.
That book was his doctoral thesis, a history of planter politics in Georgia between 1865 and 1892.
Since that beginning he has published more than 25 books. He is sometimes a co-author and other times the sole author.
In addition to his histories, he has authored and published novels, cook books, and adventure stories.
Some of his work includes: