She Became One Of The Most Read Female Authors In 1920s America, Garnering Over 20 Million Readers During The 35-Year Run Of Her Column “Listen, World!”

LeitnerR - - illustrative purposes only

There are so many American women who have made themselves known as fantastic and popular writers, from Toni Morrison to Joan Didion. But do you know who one of the most-read female authors of the 20th century was?

Elsie Robinson, a famous journalist, poet, and fiction writer, became one of the most-read authors in America with her column, “Listen, World!” and had an extraordinary voice.”

Elsie was born in California in 1883 and was one of five children. When she was in high school, her family slipped into poverty. Although two of her older siblings could go to college, her parents couldn’t afford it by the time she reached that age.

So, instead of going to school, Elsie got engaged. She got engaged to Christie B. Crowell, a wealthy man 10 years older than her. Christie’s parents did not approve of Elsie at the start of their relationship and forced her to attend a religious boarding school before she could marry their son.

For a year, she attended a strict school where she mostly learned about domestic duties, then married Christie. In 1904, she gave birth to their son, George Alexander Crowell, but their marriage remained rocky.

George was often sick as a child, and one of Elsie’s favorite ways to comfort him was to write and illustrate children’s stories for him. In 1911, she sent two of her stories to the subscription service John Martin’s Letters, which sent children stories via mail.

Elsie found great success in the service and was asked to write two more stories. With her newfound success and confidence, Elsie left her husband and moved away with George in 1912.

Although she wrote around four more children’s books, Elsie wasn’t making enough money to support herself and her child, so she was forced to get a job in a California gold mine, working among a crew of men.

Still, she had her sights set on becoming a professional writer and continued to write essays and short stories that were occasionally published in travel and literary magazines. In 1918, she and George moved to San Francisco, where she got a job at the Oakland Tribune. She originally began with a children’s column and was eventually given her own eight-page section called “Aunt Elsie’s Magazine,” which took off and made her very popular.

LeitnerR – – illustrative purposes only

Sign up for Chip Chick’s newsletter and get stories like this delivered to your inbox.

1 of 2