Biography (Cyclopedia of World Authors, Fourth Revised Edition)
An only child, Zona Gale was raised in Portage, Wisconsin, a town that would occupy a central place in both her life and her writings. Her father, Charles Franklin Gale, was a railroad engineer with philosophical inclinations. Her mother, Eliza (née Beers), was a teacher and devoutly religious.
After earning her bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, in 1895, Gale began her career as a reporter, first for the Milwaukee Evening Wisconsin and then, from 1896 to 1901, for the Milwaukee Journal. She earned her M.A. from her alma mater in 1899. In 1901 she moved east to write for the New York Evening World. Resigning after eighteen months to pursue freelance writing, she made her first short-story sale to Success magazine in 1903. She showed a flair for writing sentimental stories and set many in an imaginary small town called Friendship Village, an idealized Portage. These stories won her a wide readership.
Gale moved back to her birthplace after establishing her freelance career. Her novels soon began showing signs of greater ambition, while remaining sentimental works. Heart’s Kindred had an antiwar theme, while A Daughter of the Morning dealt with conditions endured by working women.
The novels that followed these established her literary reputation. With the appearance of Birth, critics observed a pronounced shift toward realism in her...
(The entire section is 587 words.)
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Zona Gale was born August 26, 1874, in Portage, Wisconsin, a small-town setting to which she frequently returns in her novels and plays. As a teenager, Gale wrote poetry, short stories, and a play, and during her years at the University of Wisconsin, she wrote her first unpublished novel. Upon graduating with a degree in literature in 1895, she worked as a reporter for several years. She continued her studies during this period, earning her master’s degree in literature from the University of Wisconsin in 1899.
In 1901 she moved to New York where she obtained a position as a reporter for the Evening World. After only eighteen months, however, she quit journalism so she could devote herself to creative writing. She sold her first magazine story in 1903, and soon made her living through the publication of her sentimental fiction. Visits home to Wisconsin inspired Gale to write a series of short stories about the fictitious Friendship Village. The success of the ensuing four volumes ensured Gale’s popularity.
Gale’s official career as a playwright dates to 1910, when the Wisconsin Dramatic Society asked her to write a one-act play. Gale’s The Neighbours was quite similar to her Friendship Village stories. The play was a critical success, and in 1916 it traveled to New York.
Throughout the 1910s Gale focused on writing short stories and novels. She returned to Portage to live, but the work she produced during this...
(The entire section is 554 words.)