Notable husband-and-wife authors from North Dakota and Minnesota published dozens of books – InForum

When people discuss married couples who were notable writers, they often refer to Robert and Elizabeth Barret Browning, Percy and Mary Shelley, Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir, Henry Miller and Anais Nin, Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath , and Stephen and Tabitha King. One couple that is often overlooked is Delos and Maud Hart Lovelace. The Lovelaces were married for 49 years (1917 to 1967) and published 33 of their books and, at least, 52 of their short stories. Both wrote for leading newspapers and, from 1943 to 1947, Delos had a weekly syndicated column that was printed in many newspapers across the country.

Delos began his career as a professional writer in 1913 when he was hired as a reporter for the Fargo Courier News. Two years later, he became a reporter for the Minneapolis Daily News, where he became a close friend of Merian Cooper, another reporter for the paper. Delos then became a reporter, copyreader and telegraph editor for the Minneapolis Tribune. While at the Tribune, he met and married Maud Hart, who also had experience as a feature writer for the newspaper. Delos and Maud then moved to New York, where Delos worked as night editor for the New York Daily News and assistant city editor for the New York Sun.

By 1931, Delos had written two historical biographies and Maud had written three children’s books. Delos and Maud had also written a number of short stories for nationally distributed magazines. Meanwhile, Cooper had become a film producer/director and was preparing to make a motion picture about a giant gorilla that was terrorizing the citizens of New York City. As a first step in this process, Cooper hired Edgar Wallace, a popular British author, to write a book that would tell the story of this event.

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At the end of December 1931, Wallace began writing the book, which was entitled “The Beast”. After five weeks, a 110-page rough draft was turned in so that writers could begin writing the script and setting the scenes that would be needed in the film. A little later, pneumonia came in the hospital and he died on February 10, 1932. Needing someone to finish the book, Cooper contacted Delos, his good friend when they were both reporters at the Minneapolis Daily News. Delos accepted the offer and took a leave of absence from the New York Daily News and the New York Sun.

As this volume was not an original novel, but rather a novelization, a novel that adapts a story of a work created for another medium, Delos needed to pay closer attention to the work of the screenwriters than what Wallace wrote. Lovelace’s novel contains numerous scenes and dialogue that are not found in Wallace’s draft or the King Kong film.


Delos Lovelace

Contributed /

In December 1932, Delos’ novelization of King Kong was ready for publication. The book was very popular and helped make the film a box office success when the film was released in 1933. What is most amazing is that the book has never gone out of print, while many other novels have been print only once. As a novel, King Kong is ranked with the original Star Wars Trilogy and Alien.
Now that Delos and Maud had both written fiction novels, they decided to collaborate on their next book. They co-authored “One Stayed at Welcome”, which was released in 1934. It was about new residents arriving in a small town on the shores of Lake Welcome and appears as the Lake Wobegon Stories by Garrison Keillor. The next joint venture novel by the Lovelaces was “Gentlemen from England”, published in 1937. This popular novel was a fictional account of the history of a 19th century English colony near Mankato, Minn.

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In 1940, Maud began her popular Betsy-Tacy books, a series of 10 novels intended for a young audience. The books focus on the adventures of Betsy Ray and her best friend Tacy Kelly in Deep Valley, Minnesota, at the turn of the 19th century. The first book in the series, “Betsy-Tacy”, begins when Betsy was five years old, and in each successive book, Betsy gets older. The last book in the series was “Betsy’s Wedding”, published in 1955. Due to the popularity of the books, the Maud Hart Lovelace Society and the Betsy-Tacy Societies were formed. There were also the triennial Betsy-Tacy conventions, held in Mankato until 2009.

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Maud Hart

Contributed / Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

In 1942, Delos teamed up with Maud to write the children’s book “The Golden Wedge”. Meanwhile, much of the world was involved in a war where German troops, commanded by Adolf Hitler, invaded much of Europe. During the summer of 1942, while soldiers were occupying Lidice, a village in today’s Czechoslovakia, one of Hitler’s top generals was assassinated. In revenge, Hitler ordered all the men there to be executed, send all the women to concentration camps, deal with all the children later and level the village. Almost all of the children were later executed. In Hitler’s revenge, over 1,300 people were killed and the village destroyed. Hitler declared that the name Lidice would be erased forever.

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In his newspaper column, Delos suggested that countries “rename a town to Lidice to reject Hitler’s claim that the name has been erased forever.” In response, towns, parks, streets or neighborhoods in Mexico, Venezuela, Panama, Brazil, Chile, Bulgaria, England, and the United States were renamed Lidice. Between 1943 and 1947, Delos wrote a weekly column, “Who’s News This Week” which was syndicated throughout the United States by the Western Newspaper Union.

In 1944, Delos published his third memoir, “General ‘Ike’ Eisenhower”, and from 1949 to 1953, Maud published three children’s novels about Deep Valley. Delos retired from working for two New York newspapers in 1952 to concentrate on his book writing. In 1953, his novel “Journey to Bethlehem” was published. The book deals with the journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem made by Joseph and Mary before the birth of Jesus. It is a narrative of what they might have experienced (ie, threats from thieves, a Roman crucifix on the roadside, etc.) and people they might have encountered. The historical novel received very good reviews and sales were brisk.

The last novel written by Delos Lovelace was a children’s book, “The Dodger Horse”. In it, he returned to his Minnesota roots about a young Brooklyn Dodgers fan and his horse. Delos died on January 17, 1967, and Maud died on March 11, 1980. In 2014, the Minnesota Youth Reading Awards Committee began issuing awards to elementary school students to encourage them to read more books. It gives prizes annually to students who read a certain number of books and then pass a test. It’s called the Maud Hart Lovelace Book Award.


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