Marge and Julia
The Correspondence between Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings and Julia Scribner Bigham
Edited by Rodger L. Tarr, Brent E. Kinser, and Florence M. Turcotte
The rich friendship of two remarkable women talking to each other in letters
“This brilliant epistolary conversation reveals the deep, forthright bond between Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings and her publisher’s daughter, Julia Scribner Bigham—two remarkable women who sought to create and live meaningful lives, even in the shadow of a world war. Marge and Julia is a most welcome contribution to both American literary history and the literature of women’s friendships.”—Ann McCutchan, author of The Life She Wished to Live: A Biography of Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, author of “The Yearling”
“These letters plumb depths of Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings’s inner life that her public writing, including her memoir Cross Creek, do not, in large part because Julia Scribner Bigham’s intelligence and insight make her the perfect correspondent for Rawlings. Scholars will find this new edition of great value, particularly the editors’ excellent introduction and copious footnotes, but these letters, engaging as a superb novel, should delight general readers as well.”—Ronald Rash, author of In the Valley
“A treasure trove of intimate, revealing letters. It is a joy to discover new facets of Rawlings’s life and re-enter her wondrous Cross Creek world.”—Anna Lillios, author of Crossing the Creek: The Literary Friendship of Zora Neale Hurston and Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings
Exploring the rich, enduring companionship shared by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings and Julia Scribner Bigham through never-before-published letters, Marge and Julia provides a revelatory depiction of these two literary women’s experiences in mid-twentieth-century America.
Pulitzer Prize–winning author Rawlings was first introduced to Julia Scribner (later Bigham), daughter of publishing magnate Charles Scribner III, shortly after the legendary Scribner House published The Yearling to runaway success. Though Julia’s New York City life was far removed from the rural world of Cross Creek, the two women remained close until Rawlings’s death in 1953, after which Scribner Bigham served as Rawlings’s literary executor. In this documentary edition of 211 of their letters, Rawlings’s and Bigham’s perspectives on the world are woven through over a decade of intimate discussion and advice about relationships, motherhood, mental health, politics, art, and literature.
Supplementing the letters with an introduction, explanatory footnotes, and a reminiscence by Scribner Bigham’s eldest daughter, Hildreth Julia Bigham McCarthy, MD, this edition provides historical context and prompts readers to inspect the facets of both women’s complex relationship with issues such as racial discrimination, class, and gender inequality. These letters offer an unprecedented performance of two women’s intimate friendship, one that transcended the limitations of patriarchy as they wrote their lives in letters.
Rodger L. Tarr is University Distinguished Professor of English, Emeritus, at Illinois State University. He is the editor of Max and Marjorie: The Correspondence between Maxwell E. Perkins and Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings and The Private Marjorie: The Love Letters of Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings to Norton S. Baskin. Brent E. Kinser is professor of English at Western Carolina University. With Tarr, he is coeditor of The Uncollected Writings of Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings and Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings’s Cross Creek Sampler: A Book of Quotations. Florence M. Turcotte is the literary manuscripts archivist at the University of Florida George A. Smathers Libraries, where she has served as curator of the Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Papers since 2005.
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