Notable husband-and-wife authors from North Dakota and Minnesota published dozens of books – InForum

When people discuss married couples who were notable writers, they often refer to Robert and Elizabeth Barret Browning, Percy and Mary Shelley, Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir, Henry Miller and Anais Nin, Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath, and Stephen and Tabitha King. One couple often overlooked is Delos and Maud Hart Lovelace. The Lovelaces were married for 49 years (1917 to 1967) and 33 of their books and, at least, 52 of their short stories were published. They both wrote for prominent newspapers and, from 1943 to 1947, Delos had a weekly syndicated column that was printed in many newspapers throughout the nation.

Delos began his career as a professional writer in 1913 when he was hired as a reporter for the Fargo Courier News. Two years later, he became a reporter for the Minneapolis Daily News, where he became a close friend of Merian Cooper, another reporter for the paper. Delos then became a reporter, copyreader and telegraph editor for the Minneapolis Tribune. While at the Tribune, he met and married Maud Hart, who also had experience as a feature writer for the newspaper. Delos and Maud then moved to New York, where Delos worked as night editor for the New York Daily News and assistant city editor for the New York Sun.

By 1931, Delos had written two historical biographies and Maud had authored three children’s books. Delos and Maud had also written numerous short stories for nationally distributed magazines. Meanwhile, Cooper had become a movie producer/director and was preparing to make a motion picture about a giant gorilla who terrorized the citizens of New York City. As the first step in this process, Cooper hired Edgar Wallace, a popular British author, to write a book that would tell the story of this incident.

In late December 1931, Wallace began to write the book, which he titled “The Beast”. After five weeks, he turned in a 110-page rough draft so that writers could begin to write the script and lay out the scenes that would be needed in the movie. A short time later, he ended up in the hospital with pneumonia and died on February 10, 1932. Needing someone to finish the book, Cooper contacted Delos, his good friend when the two of them were reporters at the Minneapolis Daily News. Delos accepted the offer and took a leave of absence from both the New York Daily News and the New York Sun.

Since this book was not an original novel, but rather a novelization, a novel that adapts the story of a work created for another medium, Delos needed to pay closer attention to the work of the scriptwriters than what Wallace had written. Lovelace’s novelization contains numerous scenes and dialogue not found in Wallace’s draft or the movie King Kong.

Delos Lovelace

Contributed /

In December 1932, Delos’ novelization of King Kong was ready for publication. The book was very popular and helped make the movie a box office success when the film was released in 1933. What is most remarkable is that the book has never gone out of print, while many other novelizations are only printed once. As a novelization, King Kong is ranked with the original Star Wars Trilogy and Alien.
Now that Delos and Maud had both written fiction novels, they decided to collaborate on their next book. They co-authored “One Stayed at Welcome”, which was released in 1934. It was about new residents arriving at a small town on the shore of Lake Welcome and appears to be like the Lake Wobegon Stories by Garrison Keillor. The next joint venture novel by the Lovelaces was “Gentlemen from England”, published in 1937. This popular novel was a fictionalized account of an English colony near Mankato, Minn. from the 19th century.

In 1940, Maud began her popular Betsy-Tacy books, a series of 10 novels intended for a young audience. The books center on the adventures of Betsy Ray and her best friend Tacy Kelly in Deep Valley, Minnesota, at the turn of the 19th century. The first book in the series, “Betsy-Tacy”, begins when Betsy was five years old, and in each succeeding book, Betsy becomes older. The final book in the series was “Betsy’s Wedding”, published in 1955. Because of the popularity of the books, the Maud Hart Lovelace Society and the Betsy-Tacy Societies were formed. There was also the tri-annual Betsy-Tacy conventions, held in Mankato until 2009.


Maud Hart

Contributed / Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

In 1942, Delos joined Maud in writing the children’s book “The Golden Wedge”. Meanwhile, much of the world was involved in a war in which German soldiers, ordered by Adolf Hitler, invaded much of Europe. During the summer of 1942, while soldiers occupied Lidice, a village in present-day Czechoslovakia, one of Hitler’s top generals was assassinated. In retaliation, Hitler ordered all the men there to be executed, all the women sent to concentration camps, all the children to be dealt with later and the village was leveled to the ground. Almost all the children were later executed. In carrying out Hitler’s revenge, over 1,300 people were killed and the village was destroyed. Hitler declared that the name Lidice would be extinguished forever.

In his newspaper column, Delos suggested that countries “rename a town to Lidice to repudiate Hitler’s assertion that the name had been extinguished forever.” In response, towns, parks, streets or neighborhoods in Mexico, Venezuela, Panama, Brazil, Chile, Bulgaria, England, and the United States were renamed Lidice. From 1943 to 1947, Delos wrote a weekly column, “Who’s News This Week” that was syndicated throughout the US by the Western Newspaper Union.

In 1944, Delos published his third biography, “General ‘Ike’ Eisenhower”, and from 1949 to 1953, Maud published three children’s novels about Deep Valley. Delos retired from his work for two different New York newspapers in 1952 to concentrate on his book writing. In 1953, his novel “Journey to Bethlehem” was published. The book covers the trip from Nazareth to Bethlehem made by Joseph and Mary prior to the birth of Jesus. It is a narrative of what they may have experienced (ie, threats of robbers, a Roman roadside crucifixion, etc.) and people they may have encountered. The historical novel received very good reviews and sales were brisk.

The last novel written by Delos Lovelace was a children’s book, “The Dodger Horse”. In it, he returned to his roots in Minnesota about a young Brooklyn Dodgers fan and his horse. Delos died on January 17, 1967, and Maud passed away on March 11, 1980. In 2014, the Minnesota Youth Reading Awards Committee began issuing awards to elementary school students to encourage them to read more books. It annually gives prizes to students who read a certain number of books and then pass a test. It is called the Maud Hart Lovelace Book Award.


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