Betty MacDonald

Betty MacDonald (March 26, 1908 - February 7, 1958) was an American author who specialized in humorous autobiography, and is best known for her book "The Egg and I". She also wrote the "Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle" series of children's books. She is associated with the Pacific Northwest, especially Washington state.

MacDonald was born as Anne Elizabeth Campbell Bard in Boulder, Colorado. Her family moved from Butte, Montana, to the north slope of Seattle's Capitol Hill neighborhood in 1918, moving to the Laurelhurst neighborhood a year later and finally settling in the Roosevelt neighborhood in 1924, where she graduated from Roosevelt High School. MacDonald married Robert Heskett in 1926 and the couple moved to a farm in the Olympic Peninsula's Chimacum Valley, near Chimacum a few miles south of Port Townsend.

She left her husband, who had proved to be an abusive drunk (he was later knifed to death in a bar fight over a woman), in 1932 and returned to Seattle. In 1942, she married Donald C. MacDonald and moved to Vashon Island, where she wrote most of her books. The MacDonalds moved to California's Carmel Valley in 1956.

MacDonald rocketed to fame when her first book, "The Egg and I", was published just after World War II. It was a huge bestseller and was translated into 20 languages. Depicting her life on the Chimacum Valley chicken farm, it introduced the characters Ma and Pa Kettle, who were featured in the movie version of "The Egg and I" and were so popular a series of films were later made featuring them.

MacDonald wrote three more autobiographical books. "Anybody Can Do Anything" recounting her life in the Depression trying to find work,"The Plague and I" about her stay in a sanitarium for tuberculosis,and "Onions in the Stew" about her life on Vashon Island with her second husband and daughters during the Second World War years. She also wrote a series of children's books that are still popular today.

MacDonald died in Seattle of ovarian cancer--some accounts say lung cancer; she was a three-pack-a-day smoker-- on February 7 1958, aged 49.


A biography of Betty Macdonald,"Much Laughter,A Few Tears" was published in 1992 by a friend,Blanche Caffiere

In 2007, Betty MacDonald's daughter, Anne MacDonald Canham, published a new book, Happy Birthday, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle, based in part on stories created by her mother, plus her own creative tales. The book is attributed to both mother and daughter.

On 13 March 2008 BBC Radio 4 broadcast a tribute programme to Betty MacDonald,commemorating the 100th anniversary of her birth.


*1945 "The Egg and I"
*1947 "Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle" (illustrated by Hilary Knight)
*1948 "The Plague and I"
*1949 "Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle's Magic" (illustrated by Hilary Knight)
*1950 "Anybody Can Do Anything"
*1952 "Nancy and Plum"
*1954 "Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle's Farm" (illustrated by Maurice Sendak)
*1955 "Onions in the Stew"
*1957 "Hello, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle" (illustrated by Hilary Knight)
*1959 "Who Me? "

External links

* [ February 2002 article on MacDonald in the "Seattle Press"]
* [ Betty MacDonald fan site with discussion forum]
* [ Brief biography of Betty MacDonald with pictures]
* [ "Betty MacDonald Had a Farm' BBC Radio 4 100th anniversary tribute of her birth.]

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