Born on July 16, 1880, the second of six children to a bank manager and his wife, Norris's childhood was filled with illnesses. She went to school when she was well, or she was taught at home. But when her family moved into an apartment in San Francisco, Norris stayed home from school to help her mother raise the younger siblings. At age 19, Norris had to deal with her parents' deaths, and she took on work at a hardware store and in a library to help support the family. She felt a breath of fresh air feeling when she took a course at the University of California at Berkeley and the professor applauded her writings.
This encouragement gave her the confidence to start writing columns for San Francisco newspapers. Norris then met and married Charles Gilman Norris, himself an author. Associating with all his friends and contacts, Norris decided that she would be a full-time writer as well. Write she did, as she eventually penned 88 books, 81 of which were novels. Women loved reading the romantic stories, making Norris the highest-paid writer during her time. People bought 10 million copies of her books, many of which are based on family and women's issues, like the novel Mother. Norris also relied on her second-generation Irish roots and her knowledge of San Francisco to hold the reader's attention. A book author, Norris also wrote serial stories for magazines, scripts for a radio soap opera, and articles for the Bell Newspaper Syndicate. A feminist, a pacifist, and a prohibitionist, Norris promoted her causes in campaigns and very gently in her books. Writing until almost the end of her life, even while battling arthritis, Norris then passed away in 1966 at age 85.
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