It’s the birthday of novelist, poet, and short-story writer Josephine Winslow Johnson (books by this author), born in Kirkwood, Missouri (1910). In 1932, Johnson left college to help out on the family farm. She also set up a small table in the attic at which she began writing short stories. After several were printed in magazines, an editor called her and asked if she would consider writing a novel. She sat down at her attic table and began to write what became Now in November, a book about an isolated farm family driven into poverty by the Depression. Johnson was at home at the farm one day in 1935 when a reporter called to tell her that she had won the Pulitzer Prize. She was 24 years old.
Johnson went on to write 10 books of poetry, fiction, and essays, including Jordanstown (1937), The Dark Traveler (1963), and Circle of Seasons (1974). She was a passionate environmentalist, who once wrote, “A vast throng of people are working night and day, destroying all they still call their native land.” She received great critical praise for her 1969 memoir, The Inland Island, a month-by-month record of the ecological changes on her 37-acre farm in Ohio. She died of pneumonia in 1990 at the age of 79.