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Harriette Arnow; Writing Through History

October 29, 2010 in 1950s-1960s, Social history

Harriette Simpson Arnow (born in 1908 under the name Harriette Louisa Simpson), started her young life in the southern Kentucky area of Pulaski County. Although Harriette’s true passion was always to become a teacher, she would ultimately become a very successful writer when it was all said and done. After spending a couple of years at Berea College and two years at the University of Louisville, Harriette spent some time teaching in a one room school house back in her native county.

Over the next few years Harriette would continue to educate kids in Pulaski County as well as pursue her goals of becoming a great writer for her time. Of course, for the time it was, women still would face discrimination in all shapes and forms simply because women were wrongfully viewed as “inferior” to men. Because of this, for Harriette’s two first writing works entitled “A Mess of Pork” and “Marigold and Mules” had to be published under the pseudonym H. L. Simpson, along with a photo of her brother-in-law just so it could be published in Esquire.

After continuing to put out great work over the next 30 years or so, Harriette would eventually move to Ann Arbor, Michigan in 1950. Here she would publish one of her most noted books, The Dollmaker, a story about herself as a young poor Kentucky girl forced to move to Detroit out of economic necessity. Harriette Simpson Arnow died in 1986 at the old age of 77 and would forever be known as a great female writer that worked to break down many social and gender barriers for women of the 20th century.

by OneTon

Wayne County Author Impacts 20th Century Female Progression

October 21, 2010 in 1920s-30s, 1940s-1950s, 1950s-1960s, Intellectual history

A very popular female writer, Harriette Arnow was one of the most respected authors produced by Kentucky.  Born on July 7, 1908, in Wayne County, Kentucky, Arnow began a life fueled by her love of literature. Her full name, Harriette Louisa Simpson Arnow was conjured from each grandmother, and she was born the second of six children to Elias Thomas Simpson and Mollie Jane Simpson. Furthermore, Arnow’s ancestors for five generations were all from Kentucky, which means she came from a rich tradition of Kentuckians.

At the age of five, her family moved to Burnside, Kentucky which is northeast of her Wayne County birthplace. She attended and graduated from Burnside High School where she participated in the literacy society. To further her education, Arnow attended Berea College for two years, but was disgruntled and left due to their rules. During her two years at the college, women had to cover their legs, wear no make-up, and could only date at specific times! She left in a search for a more independent lifestyle and eventually attended the University of Louisville (UL). At UL she honed her skills of writing amazing stories which eventually led to her self-acclaimed literacy awards.

Many of her works are still read today, such as The Dollmaker and Hunter’s Horn. While living in the country, near Ann Arbor, Michigan she produced many other famous works: The Weedkiller’s Daughter (1970), The Kentucky Trace (1975), Seedtime on the Cumberland (1960), and Old Burnside (1977).  The Dollmaker received the most awards out of her library of literature. The novel was a best-seller and tied for the best novel of 1954 in the Saturday Reviews national critic’s poll.

Harriette Arnow is another great example of female progression in Kentucky. Her dedication to the literary world paid off; her many awards and honors prove the success of her writings. She also proved that to be a successful woman in the 20th century that one did not need to be a female civil rights activist.

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