MHL-1 Maud Hart LovelaceBECHS

Maud Hart Lovelace (1892-1980) (Photo courtesy of the Blue Earth County Historical Society)

The dictionary definition of the word “inspire” is “fill (someone) with the urge or ability to do or feel something, especially to do something creative”. Many have been inspired by the writings of Maud Hart Lovelace and this is a collection of quotes from some people you may know or recognize.

“Age 10 was pivotal:  I moved to a new school where the friendly librarian recommended armfuls of books each week.  She turned me onto the Betsy-Tacy series. Then my 4th grade teacher taught creative writing; I loved writing stories.  One of mine attracted attention—a school achievement award, reading it to the PTA, and the librarian sent it to a children’s magazine… my first youthful rejection letter.  I decided to be a writer, just like Betsy. I admired her belief in herself as a writer, and her persistence.  Even now, I’m still so inspired by Betsy, and by Maud, who followed her dreams and wrote books that have had a great influence on so many of us.”  ~ Theresa Jarosz Alberti, author

 “Heavens to Betsy! It was pure bliss to slip away and into the world of these turn-of-the-century Minnesota girls, their families, their friends, their loves. It had been many, many years since I’d spent time with the enchanting Betsy Ray, but after reacquainting myself with these classics, I now realize that one of the reasons I believed I could someday become a writer was because of Betsy’s own infallible confidence that she would be a writer. Hurrah to Harper Perennial for giving us the gift of three gorgeously packaged omnibus re-issues of the Betsy-Tacy-Tib high school books. Don’t worry if you don’t have a young person to buy these delicious books for—be selfish and give ‘em to yourself.”     ~ Mary Kay Andrews, New York Times bestselling author

 “Some characters become your friends for life. That’s how it was for me with Betsy-Tacy.”  ~ Judy Blume, best selling author

“I was invited to a Breakfast at the Los Angeles Public Library. Writers and illustrators of children’s books were asked to the annual Breakfast to meet librarians. I was awed by the line-up of guests. Lucile and Hilling C. Holling, Conrad and Mary Buff, Eleanor Estes, Leo Politi, Maud Hart Lovelace! Lois Lenski had written to me about Mrs. Lovelace…Elizabeth Riley is her editor, too, and I illustrated the first of the Betsy-Tacy series. They were based on Maud’s childhood in Minnesota, and I worked from family photographs she sent me. While I was doing the pictures, we became good friends. Elizabeth Riley had told me about the Betsy-Tacy books, too. Her three Siamese cats were named Betsy, Tacy, and Tib. Maud Hart Lovelace was one of Crowell’s most successful authors. And here was the great lady in person, a handsome woman with an air of great dignity. Standing in her presence, I couldn’t think of anything to say.”  ~ Clyde Robert Bulla (1914-2007), award-winning author

“Slipping into a Betsy book is like slipping into a favorite pair of well-worn slippers. It’s always a pleasure to live in Betsy’s world for a little while, to experience her simple joys as well as her (thankfully short-lived) sorrows.”  ~ Meg Cabot, best selling author

“The Betsy-Tacy books were among my favorites when I was growing up.”  ~ Nora Ephron (1941-2012), Academy-Award nominated director

“One of the things I find so inspiring about the Betsy-Tacy books is how they can be at once comforting and familiar, focused on small, everyday things, and yet can still so thrillingly capture the grand wonder of life, and ask big, challenging questions. I’m grateful for how they inspire me to see both the small treasures and the big picture, in my own life, and in my own writing.”  ~ Deva Fagan, writer of fantasy and science fiction for teens and tweens

“How could I possibly have missed the Betsy-Tacy books growing up?  Finding them was like coming home.  Maud Hart Lovelace’s skill in creating a world we never want to leave makes the reader in me deliriously happy, while the writer in me simply shakes her head in awe.  Long live Deep Valley!”  ~ Heather Vogel Frederick, author Mother-Daughter Book Club series

“I read Maud Hart Lovelace’s “Betsy-Tacy” series as I was growing in Chicago and was drawn into turn-of-the-century Mankato by the girls’ relationships, problems and daily lives. (Betsy’s obsession with writing was part of the reason I was smitten.) After moving to Mankato in 1978, I realized I lived in Maud’s “Deep Valley,” and being a history buff (and wanna-be time traveler), I began to research the characters and places in the books. The research resulted in my earning six grad credits at MSU-M and the publication of “Betsy-Tacy in Deep Valley: People and Places,” a 58-page soft cover book that has been through several updated printings since 1985. Maud’s books, however, need no updates. They continue to be timeless in their portrayal of three best friends growing up from age five to adulthood.” ~ Carlienne Frisch, author Betsy-Tacy in Deep Valley: People & Places

“To paraphrase Maud, it is difficult now to think of a time when Betsy was not my ‘imaginary’ friend.  Whether I loved her because I was already a writer in my heart, or whether I became one because Maud showed me how a girl might grow up into that, I don’t know.  But knowing Betsy as I did, it made perfect sense that I wanted to write, too.”  ~  Blythe Gifford, historical romance novelist

“I read all the Betsy-Tacy stories in order as I grew up, but it was “Heaven to Betsy” that gave me a girl writer to imagine myself being.  I still reread it every few years—it never disappoints.”  ~ Patricia Hampl, award-winning author

“I came across the Betsy-Tacy books when I was about 14, remembered to look for the author whose name sounded like a valentine.  My cousin Myrna and I were devout fans of Laura Ingalls Wilder and became devoted to the citizens of Deep Valley.  So much so that some years later, I sought out Mrs. Lovelace’s phone number at my local library. I was so fan-flummoxed when she actually ANSWERED the PHONE, that I blurted out, “You’re BETSY!”   I can’t know if she actually rolled her eyes heavenward [as I do even now, remembering what a cluck I was], but MHL was gracious. She said, “Well, I’ve written books about Betsy.”  We had a brief conversation in which, I’m ashamed to say, feeling that I might have caused her sorrow, Mrs. Lovelace informed me, in answer to my question, that many of her friends had since passed away. Sigh…Some years later, I had the pleasure of making the acquaintance of Missouri author, Clyde Robert Bulla, who had lived in California & had worked with Elizabeth Riley. Thrilled I was when he told me that he’d MET Mr. & Mrs. Lovelace at a party. He recalled that her lipstick looked rather ‘purple.’  [!]  And that Delos would fluster ladies by complimenting them on their hair then ask, ‘Is that a wig?’   My only other Maud-related memory is the excitement I experienced in 1992, when I first visited Mankato and saw where she’d lived and I walked where she had walked. Bless her forever for the happiness I derived from her books. Mrs. Wilder & Mrs. Lovelace WERE my happy childhood.”  ~ Cheryl Harness, author/illustrator

“There is no series of books that has meant more to me than Maud Hart Lovelace’s Betsy-Tacy series. If there was one fictional world that I could live in, it would be Betsy’s Deep Valley with all of The Crowd. And thanks to Maud’s timeless stories, it’s a world I can visit over and over again.”  ~ Jennifer Hart, SVP, Associate Publisher, William Morrow

“Family loyalty and the devotion of friends to one another, which for me are the defining characteristics of the Betsy-Tacy stories”  ~ Esther Hautzig, award-winning author, Director of Children’s Book Promotion for Thomas Y. Crowell Co., and publicist for Betsy’s Wedding in 1955.

 “When I was growing up in the Bronx, I had lots of friends. But the girls I most enjoyed spending time with were Betsy, Tacy and Tib. I didn’t need my mother’s permission to invite them over to my house. All I had to do was open one of the books in the series by Maud Hart Lovelace and there they were – three girls full of good ideas, adventures and fun. In time, I introduced my daughter to these girls. Even though I’ve lost touch with many of my childhood friends, Betsy, Tacy and Tib remain just as I remember them and waiting for my granddaughters to join them in games now too.”  ~ Johanna Hurwitz, award-winning author

“Maud’s eventual success as a writer stemmed not only from her talent, but largely from her own determination and perseverance, as well as the fact that she possessed the ability to create books that truly illustrate the joy of life, love, family, and friendship. Maud’s writing may have provided her own life with purpose, promise, beauty, and mystery, but her writing has also proved inspiring to vast number of devoted Betsy-Tacy fans—including me.”  ~ Samantha Johnson, award-winning writer

“I grew up 30 miles north of Mankato, and trips to town were filled with mystery and magic, because I was walking the same streets that Betsy and Tacy once walked. The Betsy-Tacy books spoke of the quiet, invaluable riches right in my own backyard, and, more than any other books, fed my dream of becoming a writer one day.”  ~ Jill Kalz, Minnesota Book Awards Readers’ Choice winner

“Maud Hart Lovelace was truly an inspiration for me.  I didn’t realize how much until recently, when a friend asked me what inspired me to become a writer.  Without hesitation I answered, “It was Maud Hart Lovelace’s Betsy-Tacy books.”  They were being written as I was growing up. I always received a book from my mother on the occasion of my birthday and Christmas.  If there was a new Betsy-Tacy book available, that is what I received.  I really identified with Betsy, who also loved to write (and did become a writer in real life, as we know.) To add to my reverent feelings about Maud, it turned out that she was the aunt of a good friend of mine, Romie (Rosemond) Lundquist. Romie’s mother and Maud Hart Lovelace’s mother were sisters. Several of Romie’s friends and I got to meet Maud Hart Lovelace at Romie’s house one blissful day. It was inspiring to meet a successful author and I never forgot that day.”  ~ Anne Kerr, author Fujiyama Trays & Oshibori Towels

“I grew up wanting to be a writer, and believing it could be done, in part, because of Betsy.  I identified strongly with her desire to tell stories, and also with her desire to publish those stories; she was someone who collected interesting characters and details when she traveled, kept lists and journals, and resolutely sent her stories out again and again, persevering even when her efforts were met with discouraging strings of rejections.  When Betsy went to high school, she went as a writer, even In Spite of Herself, and when Betsy set out to see the Great World, she went as a writer.  I enjoyed her friendships and her family and her journeys and her adventures, but they all meant much more to me because she was experiencing her life and her world with a writer’s eye for details and stories.  The first moment in the Betsy-Tacy stories which reliably makes me tear up is the scene at the end of Betsy and Tacy Go Downtown, when Betsy discovers that her poem has been printed in the newspaper. “The author’s name was Betsy Warrington Ray.”  ~ Perri Klass, MD & author

“Maud Hart Lovelace and her “Betsy-Tacy” series influenced me very much when I was a girl; I identified with Betsy, who wanted to be a writer, as well as the friends’ girl-power.”  ~ Lorna Landvik, best selling novelist

“There are two kinds of women, those who know these books and those who don’t. I reread these books every year, marveling at how a world so quaint – shirtwaists! Pompadours! Merry Widow hats! – can feature a heroine who is undeniable modern.”  ~ Laura Lippman, best selling novelist

“I read the Betsy-Tacy books when I was nine and ten years old, and the high school books later. I remember being moved by how loving and respectful the family members were to each other. My family life was more difficult and complicated, and the stories of Betsy’s family and friendships offered me a wonderful refuge. I don’t think I could have gotten through my childhood without them!”   ~ Fran Manushkin, author

“I am fairly certain that my independent, high-spirited grandmother must have had a childhood similar to Betsy Ray’s…As I read about the School Entertainment and ice cream socials, about ladies leaving calling cards and the milkman with his horse-drawn wagon, I felt that I was having an unexpected and welcome peek into Granny’s childhood—a gift to me from Maud Hart Lovelace”  ~ Ann M. Martin, author of The Baby-sitters Club

“I truly consider Betsy and Tacy Go Downtown to be the finest novel in the English language! I will never love any other books as much as I love the Betsy-Tacy books. Some authors create a warm, joyous world which the reader admires from afar, Maud Hart Lovelace creates her warm, joyous world, and then invites us all to come in and share it.” ~ Claudia Mills, children’s book author, National Book Award and Golden Kite Award winner

Maud’s diary dated Monday, Oct. 4, 1954: “The most wonderful letter from Vera who loves the first chapter [Betsy’s Wedding]. Thinks it had a poetic quality. Her letter was very helpful, as she advises me not to be limited by the hard time I had getting out Betsy and the Great World. Circumstances were so different then. She’s right. I am so terribly impressionable that I never seem to forget, subconsciously, an ordeal such as that one was. Just “roll with the punches,” she says. And tells me to let this book pour out just as it’s started.”  ~ Vera Neville (1904-1979), author/illustrator. Vera illustrated six Betsy-Tacy books and three Deep Valley books by Maud Hart Lovelace.

“What I loved about Lovelace’s stories is that they were about “ordinary children” and “ordinary adventures” that a child could imagine doing in a world where a child would want to live.”  ~ Sheila O’Connor, award winning author

“In the writing of the Island of the Blue Dolphins, I am deeply indebted to Maude and Delos Lovelace.”  ~ Scott O’Dell (1898-1989), Newbery Medal winner for the Island of the Blue Dolphins, did not know that he had written a children’s book until he showed the manuscript to a friend, Maud Hart Lovelace, the author of the Betsy-Tacy books. She told him that it was a book for children, and a very good one.

“I devoured Emily of Deep Valley so often I knew parts by heart. I kept sneak-reading it as a teen and as a college student, hiding my habit while discussing trendy intellectual novels. On wintry evenings, curled up by the fire in New England, I still turn to my copy as comfort fare, drawing nourishment and inspiration from the pages. “Muster your wits; stand in your own defense,” Mrs. Lovelace exhorts us through the power of story, and Emily’s words can always bring me to my metaphorical feet.”  ~ Mitali Perkins, acclaimed children’s writer

“How did Maud influence me? By showing me that the dailyness of life, the quotidian, is novel-worthy.”  ~ Marsha Qualey, award-winning author

“There are three authors whose body of work I have reread more than once over my adult life: Charles Dickens, Jane Austen and Maud Hart Lovelace. We fell in love, not only with Betsy but with Tacy and Tib and all the others, and wanted to know from year to year what was happening to them. Betsy-Tacy fans never die. They just re-read.”  ~ Anna Quindlen, best selling author, Pulitzer Prize winning writer

“I don’t think I can begin to measure the influence Maud Hart Lovelace has had on me. Her books have always been a safe harbor I could retreat to when the pressures of the real world became overwhelming; her characters served as role models when living, breathing role models were in short supply. Best of all, the books are a joy to read, even after re-reading them steadily for more than 30 years.  Lovelace’s gift as a writer is truly the gift that keeps on giving.”  ~ Amy Dolnick Rechner, author Between Deep Valley and the Great World and A Future in a Handbasket

“The Betsy-Tacy books are timeless stories that transport you back to the days of the horse and buggy and whose characters will become your best friends. Maud Hart Lovelace has given us a wonderful gift in these books that will be treasured forever.”  ~ Julie A. Schrader, author Maud Hart Lovelace’s Deep Valley and Discover Deep Valley

“I grew up in Maud’s Deep Valley, and whenever I need to go home again, I reach for the Betsy-Tacy books. It’s like having a childhood best friend who never leaves your side.” ~ Charity Tahmaseb, author The Geek Girls Guide to Cheerleading

“When I was growing up in the 1940s and 1950s, Maud Hart Lovelace’s stories about Betsy and her friends entranced me. I followed Betsy, Tacy, Tib and the others as I too passed through early childhood into an adult world.  Although set in an even earlier period of time, these stories affirmed for me the emotional significance of so-called “ordinary” events in girls’ lives.  Many years later, I am sure she inspired writers like me to write about our own lives, heartened by understanding that “ordinary” is not ordinary at all.”   ~  Susan Allen Toth, author

“As a Minnesota girl, I read the Betsy-Tacy books about a thousand times as a kid. I used to go to sleep at night with one of the books under my pillow whispering to myself about the girls, hoping I’d dream I was playing with them.”  ~ Anne Ursu, award-winning author

“At school visits, when kids ask what books I read as a child, I have only one answer: Betsy-Tacy—the entire series. In the summer I read them lying on a blanket under a massive oak tree. In winter, I read them curled under the covers in my “Hollywood” style bed. When I finished Betsy’s Wedding, I’d start over again. Truthfully I think those were the only books I read as a child. But they were enough to make me know that characters in books had true and honest feelings and that made the difference.  ~ Maryann Weidt, children’s book author and Minnesota Book Award-winning picture book

“One of the great joys of my life was discovering the Betsy-Tacy books as a young editorial assistant at HarperCollins. We were reissuing the books with new covers, and my boss asked me to read them so I could help with catalog copy. I sat down at my desk and fell headlong into the series. I couldn’t believe my good fortune in getting to read them for work! I also couldn’t believe I’d missed them, growing up. By the time Betsy reached high school, I felt like I’d known her my whole life. As a writer, I deeply identified with her yearnings, her struggles, her distractions, her bursts of zeal. One of the other great joys of my life has been sharing Betsy, Tacy, Tib, and the rest of the Crowd with my own girls. I’ve watched all four of my girls fall in love with the books just as wholeheartedly as I did—and it’s been a deep delight to see what a role Maud’s books have played in their childhood and the development of their imaginations.”  ~ Melissa Wiley, children’s book author