CROSS CREEK - Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings joins Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald of other literary immortals as the latest inductee into the U.S. Postal Service’s Literary Arts commemorative stamp series.
The 41-cent First-Class stamp bearing her likeness was dedicated on Feb. 21 outside her Cross Creek home in the historic state park named in her honor.
The stamp image, created by Michael Deas, features Rawlings with Florida scrub country and a fawn in the background. Spots on the fawn mirror those described in her Pulitzer Prize winning novel, “The Yearling.”
A similar ceremony took place on Feb. 22 in St. Augustine at the Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Museum, formerly the Castle Warden Hotel, owned by Rawlings and her husband, Norton Baskin.
“What better location to immortalize Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings on postage than the captivating surroundings that inspired her work,” said U.S. Postal Service Senior Vice President, General Counsel, Mary Ann Gibbons. “It’s easy to understand why her 1942 memoir Cross Creek characterized her home as ‘a place of enchantment.’ The orange trees, pines, palm trees and towering oaks laced by Spanish Moss add to the tranquility of her cedar-shingled farmhouse nestled between a quiet country road and Lake Orange.”
Joining Gibbons in the dedication was a confidante and protégé of Rawlings whom she inspired to become a writer and artist. “Jake” J.T. Glisson, born in 1927, grew up knowing her as his parent’s next-door neighbor, “200 yards up the road.”
“She was a true inspiration to me and everyone who knew her,” Glisson said, “When I told my dad I wanted to be a writer and illustrator, he tersely stated he wasn’t raising a ‘pink pencil pusher,’” but Miss Rawlings told me not to worry about it. She would take care of convincing my dad.”
Rawlings owned the Cross Creek property from 1928 until her death in 1953. It was here - living among the people in the backwoods of Florida - where she wrote her 1939 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel “The Yearling” (1938). The popularity of her memoir “Cross Creek” (1942) drew reader suggestions to write on local cuisine. Interspersed with her recipes, commentary and anecdotes, “Cross Creek Cookery” (1942) continues to be popular with lovers of southern cooking.
The property is located about 20 miles southeast of Gainesville. The park includes the home, restored and preserved as it was in the 1930s, and a barn, tenant house, citrus grove, seasonal garden, chickens, ducks, nature trails and a 1940 Oldsmobile Hydromatic very similiar to her own.
In 2006, Rawling’s Cross Creek house and farmyard were designated a national historic landmark. Sitting on her original homemade table is an old typewriter cradling a yellowed page from one of her novels; beside it, a notepad, pen and cigarette -laden ashtray sit undisturbed - as if she stepped away for a moment.
Born Aug. 8, 1896, in Washington, D.C., she had a desire to write at an early age. Starting at age 6, she contributed to the children’s page of the Washington Post for nearly a decade. She completed a degree in English at the University of Wisconsin in 1918. Afterwards, she lived for a year in New York City, where she worked for a YWCA magazine and newsletter.
In May 1919, she married Charles Rawlings, who had been her classmate and fellow writer on the university literary magazine. They lived in Louisville, Ky., and then Rochester, N.Y., where she wrote features for local newspapers.
Rawlings first encountered the people and landscapes of the Florida scrub country in 1928, when she and her husband vacationed there while visiting his brothers. Later that year, Marjorie and Charles Rawlings purchased more than 70 acres of property in the small town of Cross Creek.
Their homestead included an eight-room farmhouse, a tenant house, barn, and hundreds of fruit trees. Charles Rawlings left Cross Creek after he and Marjorie divorced in 1933, but she continued to live at the farmstead.
Inspired by the culture of her rural neighbors, she submitted a collection of fictionalized anecdotes to Scribner’s magazine. They were published under the title “Cracker Chidlings: Real Tales from the Florida Interior” in the February 1931 issue. The piece was the first of more than 40 short works of fiction and nonfiction she wrote for magazines such as Scribner’s, Harper’s, The Saturday Evening Post, Collier’s and The New Yorker. “Cracker Chidlings” also began the work that occupied Rawlings for the rest of her life: documenting the culture and folkways of rural Florida.
After publishing her first two novels - South Moon Under in 1933 and Golden Apples in 1935 - Rawlings achieved major success with “The Yearling.”
Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings died of a cerebral hemorrhage in December 1953 at the age of 57.
First-day stamp issue
Customers have 60 days to obtain the first-day-of-issue postmark by mail. They may purchase new stamps at their local Post Office, by telephone at 800-STAMP-24, or at the Postal Store website at www.usps.com/shop. They should affix the stamps to envelopes of their choice, address the envelopes to themselves or others, and place them in a larger envelope addressed to:
Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Stamp Postmaster 6300 SE 221st St. Hawthorne, FL 32640-9998
After applying the first-day-of-issue postmark, the Postal ervice will return the envelopes through the mail. There is no charge for the postmark. All orders must be postmarked by April 21.