Maud Hart Lovelace

1892 - 1980

Maud Hart Lovelace was born on April 25, 1892, in Mankato, Minnesota. Just like the main character in the book series she would become most well-known for, Maud had two best friends in her neighborhood with whom she shared many adventures, and she loved to write. After graduating from high school in the spring of 1910, she spent a few months attending the University of Minnesota before taking time off due to ill health. She returned to school the following fall, but never completed her degree. After her time at the University of Minnesota, Maud spent time traveling in Europe, followed by short stays in New York and Seattle, before settling in Minneapolis.

Maud was working as a writer for the Wakefield Publicity Bureau when she met her future husband Delos Lovelace in 1917. They were married in the fall of that year while Delos was on leave from the army. After World War I, the Lovelaces spent time living in both New York City and Minneapolis before settling more permanently in New York in 1928.

Maud and Delos both aspired to careers writing fiction. Delos initially took newspaper positions, but by 1923 was making enough money writing short stories that for a time he worked only as a fiction writer (though he later returned to a career in journalism). Maud had written various short stories over the years, but started research on her first historical novel for adults in 1924. The Black Angels was published in 1926 and was followed by five other works of adult historical fiction (two of which were co-authored with her husband).

The Lovelace’s only surviving child, a daughter named Merian, was born in 1931. The Betsy-Tacy series that Maud is best known for began as stories inspired by her own childhood told to her daughter. She set the stories in “Deep Valley” (loosely based on Mankato) and called herself “Betsy.”

The first book, Betsy-Tacy, was published in 1940, with the subsequent three books arriving over the next three years. She may have considered ending the series after the first four books, but was persuaded by her husband and daughter to continue after receiving a box of her high school diaries.

Maud Hart Lovelace eventually wrote a total of ten books in the Betsy-Tacy series (an eleventh was considered but never written), as well as three other books set in Betsy’s world (where Betsy appears as a minor character). While writing the Betsy-Tacy books, Maud’s focus turned entirely to children’s literature, and she wrote five other children’s books outside the world of Deep Valley.

The Lovelaces retired to Claremont, California in 1954. Maud Hart Lovelace died on March 11, 1980.

The Betsy-Tacy series is a favorite with many readers in part because it captures so many of the joys and sorrows of growing up.

In the Preface to the The Betsy-Tacy Companion, Sharla Scannell Whalen writes, “The Betsy-Tacy books give us a sense of warm continuity. The rituals and traditions of the Ray family have evolved because the family knows how to savor life. Yet their happiness is never sappy, nor their optimism unrealistic. As one Betsy-Tacy fan said, ‘Betsy learned not through severe moral trials, but through the ordinary dilemmas of life.’ The characters experience failure, rejection, guilt and sorrow—to which they respond with healthy self-esteem and hardy common sense. Betsy, inevitably introspective, is undeniably whole as well as wholesome. The opportunity to share in her childhood and young adulthood is a gift” (ix).

Information in this biography was compiled in part from The Betsy-Tacy Companion by Sharla Scannell Whalen.

For further information and to find out about visiting Maud’s childhood home (as well as the home of her best friend Bick (“Tacy”), visit the Betsy-Tacy Society website.

— Kirsten Hill

What Cabrillo Found: The Story of Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo
Gentlemen from England
The Golden Wedge: Indian Legends of South America
The Black Angels
One Stayed at Welcome
Carney's House Party
Winona's Pony Cart
Early Candlelight
The Charming Sally
Petticoat Court
Emily of Deep Valley
Betsy's Wedding
Betsy and the Great World
Betsy and Joe: A Betsy-Tacy High School Story
Betsy in Spite of Herself: A Betsy-Tacy High School Story
Heaven to Betsy: A Betsy-Tacy High School Story
Betsy and Tacy Go Downtown
Over the Big Hill
Betsy-Tacy and Tib
The Valentine Box
The Tune is in the Tree
The Trees Kneel at Christmas
Betsy Was a Junior: A Betsy-Tacy High School Story