Maud Hart Lovelace was born April 26, 1892, but until she was 50 years old she believed her birthday was the 25th (which coincided with the birthday of her namesake, Aunt Maud). The daughter of Tom and Stella Hart, Maud was christened simply “Maud Hart”; around age 10, she adopted her mother’s maiden name, Palmer, as her middle name and thereafter was known as Maud Palmer Hart.
Devoted readers of the Betsy-Tacy books already know many of the important details of Maud’s life: her father, whose inspired suggestions were called “snoggestions,” owned a shoe store; he met her mother by borrowing a cup of salt (whether he actually needed it will remain forever a mystery); and the Hart family always put on the coffeepot in times of stress. Family members included Maud’s older sister, Kathleen (Julia), who was dramatic, “put on airs” as a young girl, took singing lessons, and became an opera singer; her younger sister, Helen (Margaret), who wore hair ribbons and was nicknamed “The Persian Princess”; and the beloved family horse, Old Mag.And, of course, the answer to the most important question is yes—there was a Tacy and a Tib! “Tacy” is Frances “Bick” Kenney, Maud’s dearest friend since her fifth birthday. (Bick really gave Maud the little glass pitcher, which is now on display in the Maud Hart Lovelace wing of the Minnesota Valley Regional Library in Mankato.) “Tib” is Marjorie “Midge” Gerlach, dainty, diminutive, and golden-haired, known for dancing the Baby Dance in a white accordion-pleated dress. The three girls cut their hair, made Everything Pudding, and, in short, did most of the things Maud described in the books she wrote about their childhood.
In 1938 Maud began writing Betsy-Tacy, inspired by the oft-repeated stories about her childhood that she told Merian at bedtime. The book was wildly successful, and the rest of the series followed at a steady pace. The only pause came after Betsy and Joe, when Maud wasn’t sure what to do next. Having not completed college herself, she didn’t feel comfortable sending Betsy—but she could send Carney! And then after writing Emily of Deep Valley, Maud came to believe that a trip to Europe was surely as educational as going to college, so the next two books followed without a hitch. For Betsy’s Wedding, Maud was especially delighted to be writing about Delos over a period of time when she actually knew him.
As a writer, Maud Hart Lovelace was deeply committed to historical accuracy; one reviewer even described Betsy-Tacy as a historical novel! Though she was careful to remind readers that the books are, in fact, fiction, she tended to answer questions such as “Why did you make Tacy so shy?” with “Because that’s the way she was!” Maud thought about writing another Betsy-Tacy book, Betsy’s Bettina, but it never “came” to her, and besides, she was satisfied with the final book’s closure. Maud said, “I have always felt that the last lines in Betsy’s Wedding were a perfect ending for the series.”
Though Maud died many years ago, her spirit lives on in the hundreds of children (and children at heart) who read and reread Betsy-Tacy, coming across those immortal words: “But the nicest present she received was not the usual kind of present. It was the present of a friend. It was Tacy.”
Above are excerpts from Maud Hart Lovelace’s biography that can be found at the Betsy-Tacy Society.
Maud Hart Lovelace is best known for her beloved series of Betsy-Tacy books which were set at the turn of the twentieth century in Mankato, Minnesota (Deep Valley). These captivating stories of small town life, family traditions and enduring friendships have captured the hearts of young and old for over 65 years.
The Betsy-Tacy books are timeless stories of small town life, family traditions and enduring friendships that have captured the hearts of young and old for over 65 years. Few books engage readers of all ages and are passed from generation to generation as these books have.
The honesty and detail of the books makes them interesting historical and social documents of the period, as well as entertaining reading for all ages. The “Betsy-Tacy” books have attracted interest from scholars since they represent a rare example of turn of the century literature written from a child’s perspective.
All thirteen books in the Betsy-Tacy series were published by Thomas Y. Crowell Co. (now HarperCollins) between 1940 and 1955. Due to their enormous popularity and demand, they were reprinted in the 1970s, 1990s. In 2000 HarperCollins released a commemorative 60th anniversary edition. The books have been translated in many different languages including German, French, Italian and Japanese.
The Betsy-Tacy TLC Blog Tours TOUR STOPS
Monday, September 21st: 5 Little Monkeys
Tuesday, September 22nd: Six Boxes of Books
Wednesday, September 23rd: Here in the Bonny Glen
Monday, September 28th: Booking Mama
Tuesday, September 29th: The Brain Lair
Thursday, October 1st: She Is Too Fond of Books
Tuesday, October 6th: I’m Booking It
Wednesday, October 7th: Kate’s Book Blog
Thursday, October 8th: The Tome Traveller
Monday, October 12th: Red Lady’s Reading Room
Wednesday, October 14th: The Well-Read Child
Thursday, October 15th: Diary of an Eccentric
Monday, October 19th: Joelle Anthony
Wednesday, October 21st: KidLit History
Thursday, October 22nd: A High and Hidden Place