Bess Streeter Aldrich (Bess Aldrich)

Bess Streeter Aldrich

Author, Novelist. Her writing career spanned over forth years, during which she published of around 200 short stories and articles, 13 novels, and two books of short stories. Born Geneva Streeter, she was the youngest of eight children. A writer since early childhood, she won a writing contest at age 14 and another at age 17. After graduating from Iowa State Normal School (now University of Northern Iowa) in Cedar Falls, Iowa she taught school at several locations in the west, later returning to Cedar Falls to earn an advanced degree in education. In 1906 she married Charles Aldrich and they moved to Elmwood, Nebraska, where she, her husband, and others invested and purchased a bank. In 1911 she began writing more regularly when the Ladies’ Home Journal magazine advertised a fiction contest, which she entered and won. Prior to 1918 she wrote under her pen name, Margaret Dean Stephens and eventually became one of the highest-paid women writers. Other than the Ladies Home Journal, her work appeared in such magazines as The American, Saturday Evening Post, Collier’s, Cosmopolitan, and McCall’s. She also wrote several pieces on the art of writing that were published in The Writer. Her stories often concerned Midwestern pioneer history and were very popular with teenage girls and young women. Her first novel “Mother Mason” was published in 1924. The following year, her husband died suddenly of a cerebral hemorrhage and she took up writing as a means of supporting her family. She followed it with “The Rim of the Prairie” (1925), “The Cutters” (1926), “A Lantern in Her Hand” (1928), “A White Bird Flying” (1931), “Miss Bishop” (1935), “Spring Came on Forever” (1935), “The Man Who Caught the Weather” (1936), and “Song of Years” (1939). In 1941 her novel “Miss Bishop” was made into the movie “Cheers for Miss Bishop” that starred Martha Scott and Edmund Gwenn. Afterwards, she published “The Drum Goes Dead” (1941), “The Lieutenant’s lady” (1942), “Journey into Christmas” (1949), and “The Bess Streeter Aldrich Reader” (1950). In 1934 she received an Honorary Doctor of Letters Degree in Literature from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, Nebraska and in 1949 she received the Iowa Authors Outstanding Contributions to Literature Award. She died at the age of 73. In 1973 she was inducted into the Nebraska Hall of Fame. Her short story “The Silent Stars Go By” (1933) became the basis for the December 1983 CBS television show “The Gift of Love: A Christmas Story” that starred Lee Remick and Angela Lansbury. (bio by: William Bjornstad)  Family links:  Parents:  James Anderson Streeter (1871 – 1891)  Mary Wilson Anderson Streeter (1835 – 1916)  Spouse:  Charles Switzer Aldrich (1872 – 1925)*  Children:  Mary Eleanor Aldrich Beechner (1909 – 2002)*  James Whitson Aldrich (1912 – 1972)*  Robert Streeter Aldrich (1920 – 1997)*  Siblings:  Norman Brazil Streeter (1855 – 1930)**  Flora Belle Streeter (1857 – 1896)**  Clara Lavina Streeter Cobb (1858 – 1940)**  Charles Wareham Streeter (1863 – 1934)**  Robert Byron Streeter (1868 – 1962)**  James Anderson Streeter (1871 – 1891)**  Bess Streeter Aldrich (1881 – 1954) *Calculated relationship**Half-sibling


  • February, 17, 1881
  • USA


  • August, 08, 1954
  • USA


  • Elmwood Cemetery
  • Nebraska
  • USA

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