- February 7
) was an American author
who specialized in humorous autobiographical
tales, and is best known for her book The Egg and I
. She also wrote the
series of children's books
associated with the Pacific
Northwest, especially Washington state.
Life and work
was born Anne Elizabeth Campbell Bard in Boulder,
official birth date is given as March 26, 1908; however, public
records indicate that she was actually born in 1907, on March 26.
moved from Butte,
Montana, to the north slope of Seattle's Capitol
Hill neighborhood in 1918, moving to the Laurelhurst neighborhood a
year later and finally settling in the Roosevelt neighborhood in
1922, where she graduated from Roosevelt High School in
1924. MacDonald married Robert Eugene Heskett
(1895-1951) in July 1927 when she was 20 years old and he was 31,
and the couple moved to a chicken farm in the Olympic
Peninsula's Chimacum Valley, near Center a few miles south of the seaside community of
Betty left Robert in 1931 and returned to Seattle, where she worked
at a variety of jobs to support her daughters Anne and Joan from
her marriage to Heskett. Once the couple was divorced, contact
between the two ex spouses was virtually nonexistent. Betty
MacDonald spent nine months at Firlands
Sanitorium outside of Seattle in 1937-1938 for treatment of
On April 24, 1942, she married Donald C. MacDonald (1910-1975)
and moved to Vashon
Island, where she wrote most of her books.
MacDonalds later moved to California's Carmel Valley
MacDonald rocketed to fame when her first book, The Egg and I
, was published in 1945. It
was a huge bestseller and was translated into 20 languages. Loosely
based on her life on a Chimacum Valley chicken farm, it introduced
the characters Ma and Pa Kettle
who also were featured in the movie version of The Egg and I
and were so popular a
series of nine more films were later made featuring them.
also published three other semi-autobiographical books:
Anybody Can Do
Anything recounting her life in the Depression trying to
find work,The Plague and I
about her stay in at Firlands Sanitarium
for treatment of tuberculosis, and
Onions in the Stew about
her life on Vashon
Island with her second husband and daughters during the
She also wrote the Mrs. Piggle Wiggle
series of children's
books that are still popular today, and another children's book
entitled "Nancy and Plum
Following his divorce from MacDonald in 1935, Robert Heskett
relocated to Oakland,
California, where he worked as a carpenter. He died at his Oakland
apartment on Sunday, July 22, 1951 after an altercation which
resulted in his being stabbed by a man named Thomas Blake. Also
present at Heskett's apartment were Thelma Blake, the ex-wife of
Blake, and their two young daughters. Blake was later arrested for
Heskett's murder, though it is unclear if he was ever prosecuted
for the incident.
Betty MacDonald died in Seattle, Washington, of cancer
on February 7
, aged 49.
A book recounting her childhood memories of Betty MacDonald,
Much Laughter, A Few
, was published by her friend, Blanche Caffiere
, in 1992.
Betty MacDonald's sister, Mary Bard
(Jensen), also was a published author. Her books include a series
of children's stories called the "Best Friends" series, as well as
two novels, "Forty Odd
" and "The Doctor Wears Three Faces
which was made into the 1950 film "Mother Didn't Tell Me
Dorothy McGuire, William Lundigan, and June Havoc.
In 1996 Betty MacDonald's family had been interviewed by journalist
and author Wolfgang Hampel
family members shared very interesting details about the
fascinating life and work of Betty MacDonald. Especially Betty's
youngest sister Alison Bard had a perfect memory and told very
funny stories. She got the same talent as her famous sister Betty
MacDonald. Betty MacDonald Interviews published 2009 on CD/DVD by
Betty MacDonald Fan Club incl. the biography of Betty MacDonald
written by Wolfgang Hampel The Kettles' Million Dollar
, The Egg and Betty
, The Tragic End Of Robert
, Betty MacDonald in Hollywood. Betty
and other biographical stories.
In 2007, Betty MacDonald's daughter, Anne MacDonald Canham,
Birthday, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle
, based on stories and
characters created by her mother. The book is attributed to both
mother and daughter. Her younger daughter, Joan MacDonald Keil,
died in July 2005.
On March 13, 2008, BBC Radio 4
a tribute programme to Betty MacDonald, commemorating the 100th
anniversary of her birth. In 2009, BBC Radio
also broadcast a reading of MacDonald's book, "Anybody Can Do Anything
Betty had three sisters, Mary Bard
Dorothea Bard Goldsmith, & Alison Bard Beck. She also had one
brother, Sydney Cleveland Bard. Only Alison Bard Beck is still
living. Another sister, Sylvia, died in childhood.
- U. S. census of 1910, taken in Placerville, Idaho on May 2 and
3, shows that Elizabeth Bard was three years old.
- U. S. census of 1920, taken in Seattle, Washington on January
15, 1920, shows that Elizabeth Bard was 12 years old.
- U. S. census of 1930, taken in Center, Washington on April 24,
1930, shows that Elizabeth Heskett was 23 years old.
- In the 1930 census Robert and Elizabeth Heskett state that they
had been married for three years
- San Antonio (Texas) Express, July 24, 1951