Garden & Gun

The Queen of Cross Creek

In 1928, on close to a whim, a fledgling New York writer named Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings used an inheritance to purchase—sight unseen—a seventy-two-acre farm and run-down orange grove in Cross Creek, in the central Florida backwoods. Floridians and middle-school readers may recall the rest of the story. Rawlings (1896–1953) fell head over heels for this humid, palmetto’ed landscape and a decade later was embroidering vivid depictions of its flora, fauna, and folkways (1942), a memoir, and (1938), a Pulitzer Prize–winning novel that established Rawlings as a seminal figure in Florida literature, the Willa Cather of the Cracker scrubland, the queen of Floridiana.

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