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...
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