Is it true that over a five year period that the plaintiff was only rewarded one dollar? More details about this episode relating to Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings' Cross Creek.

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bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

It is true that Cross Creek author Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings was sued by one of her closest friends and, after five years of litigation, the plaintiff won the case--and was awarded the sum of $1. The mostly non-fiction novel set in the wilds of North Central Florida (just south of Gainesville, where Rawlings taught at the University of Florida) featured real characters using their real names. Marjorie decided to use the true names of her characters after lengthy talks with her editor. One of them, Zelma Cason, was angered by her depiction in the novel, particularly Rawlings' description of her as

"... an ageless spinster resembling an angry and efficient canary..."

Cason wore pants, carried a gun and her profanities

"... could be heard for a quarter of a mile..."

The two women were very much alike. Rawlings had met Cason on her very first day in Cross Creek, and the two women eventually "mended their friendship." But Cason declared that Rawlings' book drew her up as a "hussy," and she felt Rawlings had betrayed their friendship. Rawlings was apparently "shocked" at Cason's reaction. Cason hired Kate Walton, a pioneering female lawyer in Florida, and sued Rawlings for $100,000. Rawlings initially won the case, but the verdict was overturned, and the author was ordered to pay Cason $1 in damages. Despite the small amount of the award, the case cost Rawlings thousands of dollars as well as five years of emotional distress.

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