Happy birthday, Maud Hart Lovelace

by chuckofish

Maud Hart Lovelace (April 25, 1892—March 11, 1980) was an American author best known for the 10-book Betsy-Tacy series.

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Maud Palmer Hart was born in Mankato, Minnesota. She was the middle child; her sisters were Kathleen (Julia in the Betsy-Tacy books) and Helen (book character, Margaret). Maud reportedly started writing as soon as she could hold a pencil.

Shortly before Maud’s fifth birthday a “large merry Irish family” moved into the house directly across the street. Among its many children was a girl Maud’s age, Frances, nicknamed Bick, who was to be Maud’s best friend and the model for Tacy Kelly.

Baptized in a Baptist church, she joined the Episcopal church as a teenager. She went on to the University of Minnesota but took a leave of absence to go to California to recover from an appendectomy at her maternal grandmother’s home. It was while in California that she made her first short story sale. She returned to the university and worked for the Minnesota Daily, but did not graduate.

While spending a year in Europe in 1914, she met Paolo Conte, an Italian musician (who later inspired the character Marco in Betsy and the Great World). She married Delos Lovelace when she was twenty-five years old. Delos and Maud met in April 1917 and were married on Thanksgiving Day the same year.

Lovelace began the Betsy-Tacy series in 1938, having told stories about her childhood to her own daughter Merian. The first book in the series, Betsy-Tacy, was published in 1940, and the last book, Betsy’s Wedding, was published in 1955. The first four books increase in reading difficulty so that a child can grow up along with Betsy-Tacy. The Betsy-Tacy books take place mostly in the fictional town of Deep Valley, Minnesota, which is based on Mankato.

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You can read more about her here.

Daughters #1 and #2 were (and are) both big fans of the Betsy-Tacy books. They read and re-read them when they were growing up. Occasionally they pick one up even now.

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Betsy and Tacy were the original BFFs.

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“She thought of the library, so shining white and new; the rows and rows of unread books; the bliss of unhurried sojourns there and of going out to a restaurant, alone, to eat.”

― Maud Hart Lovelace, Betsy and Tacy Go Downtown