By Sherry Harris writing on a windy day
As a published author I’ve been asked more often why I write, so I’ve thought about it a lot. I can draw a direct line from my favorite childhood series, The Betsy-Tacy books by Maud Hart Lovelace, to my desire to write.
First a bit about the books — the series is based on Maud Hart Lovelace’s life growing up in Mankato, Minnesota which she calls Deep Valley in the books. When we first meet Betsy she is five and the reading level is suitable for that age group. But as Betsy ages so does the age level of the books. We follow Betsy from the first book, Betsy-Tacy, to the last in the series, Betsy’s Wedding.
Betsy wanted to be a writer from the time she was a little girl until she became one as an adult. And since I wanted to be Betsy, I wanted to be a writer too. The books start in the late 1800’s and follow through to the Great War. We go with Betsy on her first ride in a horseless carriage, feel her first heartbreak, sneak off with her to the store to buy dime novels. When her mother finds the dime novels, Betsy gets a library card and is allowed to go alone. The characters are wonderfully drawn but face issues that are relatable today.
I’ve read these books over and over. Even as an adult, I still love to read them. Betsy has an older sister, Julia and I have one, Janet. Both are great piano players. My sister and I used to argue about who was Betsy and who was Julia. (Obviously, I’m Betsy!) Betsy’s full name is Elizabeth Warrington Ray. In fifth grade I decided if I ever had a daughter I’d name her Elizabeth Rae. And yes, my daughter is named Elizabeth Rae. Betsy’s family supports her writing, as does mine.
The Unofficial Book Reviewer says this about Betsy: Generations of literary-minded girls have found a soul mate in Betsy Ray, who blushes too easily, wobbles on ice skates, and nearly flunks algebra. That line could have been written about me.
The books were mentioned in the movie You’ve Got Mail. Anna Quindlen mentions the series in one of her books. I was surprised by the number of authors who related to the books I loved so much. You can read their thoughts at the Betsy-Tacy Society.
So thank you Maud Hart Lovelace for writing such wonderful books and for inspiring me.
Readers: Who inspired you when you were young?