Author of the beloved Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle books, Betty MacDonald was born in Boulder, Colorado on March 26th, 1908, to Darcie and Elsie Bard. Througout her school years, Betty's grandmother introduced her to the writings of many great authors, including Charles Dickens and Rudyard Kipling. Her parents highly encouraged numerous extracurricular activities, especially musical and artistic pursuits such as ballet and singing lessons. Although her family moved several times during her childhood, she finished high school at an early age, graduating in 1924.
While attending the University of Washington, she met and married Robert Eugene Heskett. He was an insurance salesman with an unusual lifelong dream: chicken farming. Shortly after they were married Robert and Betty began to put his dream into action. The chickens and Betty did not get along well. In her autobiographical book, "The Egg and I," MacDonald humorously tells of her adventures on the primitive ranch in the Olympic Mountain region of Washington. This is where she meets the Kettles, their next door neighbors who feature prominently in her book (and subsequently in the comedic film series about the Kettle family). Sadly, the Heskett's marriage was fraught with strife--the chicken farm being a major point of friction--and Robert and Betty divorced in 1930, after four years of marriage.
After her divorce, Betty worked at a series of government jobs near Seattle to support herself and her two daughters. In 1938 she contracted tuberculosis and was compelled to stay in a sanitarium for a time. She later wrote about this experience in "The Plague and I". A few years after her recovery she married Donald C. MacDonald and moved with him to Vashon Island, Washington. She began writing soon after her marriage, and her books quickly became famous for their warmth and humor. Her first children's book, "Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle," was written in 1947. It was recieved with much acclaim from critics, and was soon followed by many more books featuring the eccentric Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle and her absurd cures for the bad habits of children. MacDonald also continued her autobiographical writing and published several more books about her varied life experiences.
In 1956, the MacDonald's moved for a short time to the Carmel Valley in California. Two years later, at the age of 49, Betty succumbed to cancer at a hospital in Seattle. Despite her early death, Betty MacDonald has remained a favorite children's author. In 2007, her daughter, Anne MacDonald Canham, published a new book, "Happy Birthday Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle," which contains stories by both MacDonald and her daughter.
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