Novel Announcement of Birth
Maud and Delos Lovelace announced the birth of their 6 pound, 14 ounce, blond-haired, blue-eyed baby girl born Sunday, January 18, 1931 in Manhattan, New York at ten forty-two a.m. The newspaper announcement reported the couple named the baby, Merian Hart Lovelace, after Merian C. Cooper, a long-time personal friend of Delos.
Merian Hart Lovelace was the little girl who inspired the Betsy-Tacy books. It was Merian, growing up in the 1930s in Garden City, Long Island, who first demonstrated that her mother’s childhood had more than passing appeal. By the time Merian was six years old, Maud was telling her stories about her childhood in Mankato. She pestered her mother so often for a new story about Betsy Ray and her friend Tacy Kelly that Maud, who had concentrated on short stories and historical novels, decided to put Betsy and Tacy on paper in 1938.
When Betsy-Tacy was published in 1940, Merian was nine years old. The book was never intended to be a series, but Delos and Merian encouraged Maud to continue. Old letters, diaries, photographs, and other mementos provided research material, but most importantly, Merian helped her mother remember what it was like to be a certain age. Merian graduated from high school the same year Maud was writing about Betsy’s graduation in Betsy and Joe, and when Merian went to college Maud was writing Carney’s House Party. During the writing of Betsy’s Wedding, Merian married Englebert Kirchner, a German-born writer.
It was little Merian Lovelace whose pleadings for just one more bedtime story gave birth to a beloved series of children’s books.