Looking for Betty MacDonald: The Egg, the Plague, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle, and I

Looking for Betty MacDonald: The Egg, the Plague, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle, and I

by Paula Becker

Paperback(Reprint)

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Overview

Betty Bard MacDonald (1907–1958), the best-selling author of The Egg and I and the classic Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle children’s books, burst onto the literary scene shortly after the end of World War II. Readers embraced her memoir of her years as a young bride operating a chicken ranch on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula, and The Egg and I sold its first million copies in less than a year. The public was drawn to MacDonald’s vivacity, her offbeat humor, and her irreverent take on life. In 1947, the book was made into a movie starring Fred MacMurray and Claudette Colbert, and spawned a series of films featuring MacDonald's Ma and Pa Kettle characters.

MacDonald followed up the success of The Egg and I with the creation of Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle, a magical woman who cures children of their bad habits, and with three additional memoirs: The Plague and I (chronicling her time in a tuberculosis sanitarium just outside Seattle), Anybody Can Do Anything (recounting her madcap attempts to find work during the Great Depression), and Onions in the Stew (about her life raising two teenage daughters on Vashon Island).

Author Paula Becker was granted full access to Betty MacDonald’s archives, including materials never before seen by any researcher. Looking for Betty MacDonald, a biography of this endearing Northwest storyteller, reveals the story behind the memoirs and the difference between the real Betty MacDonald and her literary persona.

Watch the book trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Lr6iVK4zWk

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780295746074
Publisher: University of Washington Press
Publication date: 08/08/2019
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 586,132
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x (d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Paula Becker is a staff historian at HistoryLink.org. She is the coauthor of The Future Remembered: The 1962 Seattle World’s Fair and Its Legacy and Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition, Washington’s First World Fair.

Table of Contents

Prologue | The House and I
1. The Richest Hill on Earth
2. Fate Alters the Plot
3. Child Bride
4. Especially Betty
5. Egged On
6. Smelling Like Sugar Cookies
7. Betty in Hollywoodland
8. Authing
9. The Name’s Kettle
10. Family Matters
11. Anybody Can Write Books
12. Goodbye, Goodbye to Everything
Epilogue | Looking for Betty MacDonald

The Bard/MacDonald Family
Betty’s Houses: Place as Witness
Bardisms
Notes
Further Reading
Image Credits
Text Permissions
Acknowledgments
Index

What People are Saying About This

Claire Dederer

A huge hit in her day, Betty MacDonald was too funny and too popular (and maybe too female) to be taken seriously. Paula Becker's Looking for Betty MacDonald—part biography, part literary criticism, part memoir—does a cracking job of rehabilitating this sparkling writer’s reputation. There are those of us who have been true believers all along, poring over MacDonald’s four hilarious and beautifully detailed memoirs of mid-century Northwest domestic life. Becker’s book rounds out the picture, weaving the darker strands of the author’s life story into a nuanced whole.

From the Publisher

"A passionate, wise and tender exploration of a surprisingly compelling life. Becker's fascination for her subject is utterly contagious: I found myself late-night Googling Betty, determined to track down everything she ever wrote!"—Julie Myerson, author of The Stopped Heart: A Novel

"Thank goodness Paula Becker has resurrected the life story of Betty MacDonald, perhaps the only author who has ever made tuberculosis funny. Carefully researched and written with great warmth and spirit, Looking for Betty MacDonald reintroduces readers to a woman who may have been America's wittiest writer in the mid-twentieth century. We tend to think of observational comedy as a modern phenomenon, but it may have begun over 75 years ago on a chicken farm in Washington State."—Barron H. Lerner, MD, PhD, author of Contagion and Confinement: Controlling Tuberculosis along the Skid Road

"Readers of Betty MacDonald love her for her pluck and clear-eyed wit. Now Paula Becker presents the writer's brief but exuberant life in this timely and heartfelt biography. As she presses her palms to the polished wood floor of Betty's former home, I felt the melting joy and melancholy of the true soulmate."—George Meyer, writer for The Simpsons and Saturday Night Live

"A huge hit in her day, Betty MacDonald was too funny and too popular (and maybe too female) to be taken seriously. Paula Becker's Looking for Betty MacDonald—part biography, part literary criticism, part memoir—does a cracking job of rehabilitating this sparkling writer's reputation. There are those of us who have been true believers all along, poring over MacDonald's four hilarious and beautifully detailed memoirs of mid-century Northwest domestic life. Becker's book rounds out the picture, weaving the darker strands of the author's life story into a nuanced whole."—Claire Dederer, author of Poser: My Life in Twenty-three Yoga Poses

George Meyer

Readers of Betty MacDonald love her for her pluck and clear-eyed wit. Now Paula Becker presents the writer's brief but exuberant life in this timely and heartfelt biography. As she presses her palms to the polished wood floor of Betty’s former home, I felt the melting joy and melancholy of the true soulmate.

Barron Lerner

Thank goodness Paula Becker has resurrected the life story of Betty MacDonald, perhaps the only author who has ever made tuberculosis funny. Carefully researched and written with great warmth and spirit, Looking for Betty MacDonald reintroduces readers to a woman who may have been America’s wittiest writer in the mid-twentieth century. We tend to think of observational comedy as a modern phenomenon, but it may have begun over 75 years ago on a chicken farm in Washington State.

Barron H. Lerner

Thank goodness Paula Becker has resurrected the life story of Betty MacDonald, perhaps the only author who has ever made tuberculosis funny. Carefully researched and written with great warmth and spirit, Looking for Betty MacDonald reintroduces readers to a woman who may have been America’s wittiest writer in the mid-twentieth century. We tend to think of observational comedy as a modern phenomenon, but it may have begun over 75 years ago on a chicken farm in Washington State.

Julie Myerson

A passionate, wise and tender exploration of a surprisingly compelling life. Becker’s fascination for her subject is utterly contagious: I found myself late-night Googling Betty, determined to track down everything she ever wrote!

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