|Woodrow Wilson Rawls|
September 24, 1913|
|Died||December 16, 1984
When Rawls was sixteen, the United States economy entered a depression, prompting his family to leave their Oklahoma home for California; however, the family's convertible broke down near Albuquerque, New Mexico, where Rawls's father found a job.
As an adult during the 1930s and 1940s, Rawls became a carpenter and traveled to South America, Canada, and Alaska. He wrote five manuscripts during this period, including Where the Red Fern Grows. Rawls's original manuscripts contained many spelling and grammatical errors and no punctuation. Because of this, he kept the manuscripts hidden in a trunk in his father's workshop.
In the late 1950s, Rawls worked for a construction company on a guided missile range in the Southwest. Later, he transferred to a construction site near Idaho Falls to work on a contract for the Atomic Energy Commission. Rawls lived in a cabin near Mud Lake. While working there, Rawls met his future wife, Sophie Ann Styczinski, a budget analyst for the Atomic Energy Commission. The couple married on August 23, 1958.
Even though Rawls's novels received much praise, he was perhaps most influential as a motivational speaker. Rawls visited 2,000 schools in twenty-two states before being diagnosed with cancer in 1983. Although Rawls and his wife had no children, he felt that he had many children in his fans. He once commented,
"Children are always asking me what advice I can give them on trying to be a writer. I always tell them to do a lot of reading, read and study creative writing, then start writing and keep writing and then they can be a writer too. Someday they will make it if they don’t give up."
The only audience of his first sand-scribbled stories was his pet, a Bluetick Coonhound.
Awards for his novels
- Evansville Book Award, Division III, Evansville-Vanderburgh School Corporation (1974)
- Young Readers Award, Division II, Michigan Council of Teachers of English, Michigan (1980)
- Flicker Tale Children's Book Award for the Older Child, North Dakota (1981)
- Twelfth Annual Children's Book Award, Massachusetts (1987)
- Great Stone Face Award, New Hampshire (1988)
Summer of the Monkeys:
- Sequoyah Children's Book Award, Oklahoma Library Association (1979)
- William Allen White Children's Book Award, Kansas (1979)
- Golden Archer Award, University of Wisconsin (1979)
- Maud Heart Lovelace Award, Minnesota (1980)
- Young Reader Medal, California of Teachers of English (1981)
Where the Red Fern Grows (1989)
- "Childhood Memories Relived." (1997). Retrieved from http://www.ifpl.org/index.asp?p=rawls/life
- Franson, jfds." Sixth Book of Junior Authors and Illustrators. The H.W. Wilson Company. Biography Reference Bank. Retrieved from http://vnweb.hwwilsonweb.com.spot.lib.auburn.edu/hww/results/results_single_ftPES.jht
- Trelease, Jim. (2002). "Author Profile: Wilson Rawls." Children's Literature Review. Ed. Scot Peacock. Vol.80. Detroit: Gale. Literature Resource Center. Retrieved from http://go.galegroup.com/ps/start.do?p=LitRC&U=naal_aub
- "(Woodrow) Wilson Rawls." (2004). Contemporary Authors Online. Detroit: Gale. Literature Resource Center. Retrieved from http://go.galegroup.com/ps/start.do?p=LitRC&U=naal_aub