As a girl born in 1883 to a family who couldn’t afford to send her to college, Elsie Robinson had limited options. To escape the drudgery of small-town life and then a stifling marriage, Elsie wrote. And wrote. And wrote. When her asthmatic son was home sick from school, she wrote and illustrated stories to entertain him. When she needed to make money to support herself and her son after her divorce, she wrote again. Eventually, her prolific writing caught the attention of the Hearst media empire, and Elsie became the most-read woman writer in America and the highest-paid woman writer in the Hearst organization. But today, few people remember Elsie Robinson or her writing.
Joining me to help us learn more about Elsie Robinson is writer Allison Gilbert, co-author of Listen, World!: How the Intrepid Elsie Robinson Became America's Most-Read Woman.
Our theme song is Frogs Legs Rag, composed by James Scott and performed by Kevin MacLeod, licensed under Creative Commons. The episode image is “Elsie Robinson, writer and columnist,” from the San Francisco Examiner, available via the Bancroft Library, UC Berkeley, and in the Public Domain.
- Elsie Robinson
- “Elsie Robinson (1883-1956),” by Allison Gilbert, National Women’s HIstory Museum.
- “ELSIE ROBINSON, COLUMNIST, DIES; Author of Syndicated 'Listen World' for King Features Succumbs at Age of 73,” The New York Times, September 9, 1956.
- “Listen, Benicia: Famed syndicated columnist and city native Elsie Robinson will be focus of Capitol event,” by Nick Sestanovich, Benicia Herald, September 7, 2017.
- “Pain,” by Elsie Robinson, Poetry Nook.
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