Bess Streeter Aldrich
|Born||Bess Genevra Streeter|
February 17, 1881
Cedar Falls, Iowa
|Died||August 3, 1954 (aged 73)|
Bess Streeter Aldrich (February 17, 1881 - August 3, 1954) was an American author.
Bess Genevra Streeter was an American fiction writer born in Cedar Falls, Iowa. Attending high-school in the town of her birth, she was the winner of two magazine fiction writing contests prior to graduating at the age of seventeen. She was the last of the eight children of James Wareham and Mary Wilson Anderson Streeter. After graduating from Iowa State Normal School with a teaching certificate, she taught school at several locations in Utah, later returning to Cedar Falls to earn an advanced degree in education.
In 1907, she married Charles Sweetzer Aldrich, who had graduated with a law degree from Iowa State University and had been one of the youngest captains in the Spanish-American War. Following the war, he served for years as a U.S. Commissioner in Alaska. They had four children--Mary, Robert, Charles and James. In 1909, they moved with their children and Bess's widowed mother to Elmwood, Nebraska, where Charles, Bess, and Bess's sister and brother-in-law Clara and John Cobb purchased the American Exchange Bank. Elmwood became the location for many of her stories, albeit called by different names.
Aldrich began writing more regularly in 1911 when the Ladies' Home Journal advertised a fiction contest, which she entered and won $175 for her story entitled "The Little House Next Door". After this success she continued to write and submit work to publications such as McCall's, Harper's Weekly, and The American Magazine where she was generally paid between one and one-hundred dollars for her work. Prior to 1918 she wrote under her pen name, Margaret Dean Stephens. She went on to become one of the highest-paid women writers of the period. Her stories often concerned the Heartland/Plains pioneer history and were very popular with teenage girls and young women.
Aldrich's first novel, Mother Mason, was published in 1924. When Charles died suddenly of a cerebral hemorrhage in 1925 at the age of 52  Aldrich took up writing as a means of supporting her family. She was the author of about 200 short stories, including "The Woman Who Was Forgotten", and thirteen novels, including Miss Bishop. The latter novel was made into a movie Cheers for Miss Bishop (1941), which starred Martha Scott and Edmund Gwenn and premiered in Lincoln, Nebraska.
Aldrich received an honorary Doctor of Letters degree in literature from the University of Nebraska in 1934 and was named into the Nebraska Hall of Fame in 1973. In 1946 Aldrich moved to Lincoln, Nebraska to be closer to her daughter and her writing slowed to just one story per year as age began to take its toll. She died of cancer on August 3, 1954 and was buried next to her husband in Elmwood, Nebraska.