If you have ever encountered tourists at Snoqualmie Falls and North Bend who are looking for Twin Peaks sites, or visitors from around the world who flock to Forks in search of Twilight, then you have had a taste of the international romance with the Pacific Northwest experience. A new biography, Looking for Betty MacDonald, will debut this week as the story of a Pacific Northwest author whose writing caught the imagination of people in many other countries.
One of the first Pacific Northwest writers to rocket into world renown was Betty MacDonald who wrote The Egg and I in 1945. Her memoir of struggling with chicken farming on the Olympic Peninsula was humorous and yet it delved deeply into important topics such as marriage, motherhood, the expectations of society towards women in the 1930s and 1940s and the quest for the “ideal” interrelationship with the rainy Pacific Northwest climate.
Betty’s book, The Egg and I, was the number one best-seller of the year 1946, was translated into many languages, and has never gone out of print. Betty MacDonald followed up with memoirs about other phases of her life, always adding a light touch to the dramas of financial strain during the 1930s economic depression years and even humor in her confinement for tuberculosis.
Paula Becker, a HistoryLink writer with more than 300 essays and two books to her credit, has researched the Betty MacDonald phenomena. Since Betty’s family lived much of their lives in northeast Seattle, Betty’s memoirs give us a foundational understanding of life lived around the Roosevelt neighborhood with its schools, shops and streetcar lines prior to 1940. Paula Becker wrote a HistoryLink essay about the family home at 6317 15th Ave NE and her last visit to the house on July 24, 2012, the day the house was torn down.
Paula Becker introduced Looking for Betty MacDonald on September 10, 2016, at the downtown Seattle Public Library, the beginning of an extensive tour of speaking dates. Other upcoming speaking dates are listed in on her webpage in the Events info. Here is a recent book review in The Seattle Times.