Minnesota Author Biographies.

Martha Ostenso

Martha Ostenso

From The Mad Carews (1927) by Martha Ostenso

Ghosts of centuries of sunlight crowded this August afternoon. Here was no single summer's day, dazzling the eyes, troubling the blood with its odors of drying, sweet and unexotic growth, but an aeon of such days, spectral and lambent, in carnival on this prairie, on this flat and northern earth of Minnesota. Here eternity danced its static, vibrant dance of heat over the stubble, or floated in a gilded mote of dust down the ladder of sunlight thrust through the crack of a barn wall to the gloom and quiet within.

Biographical Notes

Birth: September 17, 1900, Bergen, Norway
Death: November 24, 1963, Seattle, Washington

Author and poet, Martha Ostenso immigrated with her parents to the United States in 1902. She lived in Clear Lake, South Dakota, and several Minnesota towns, including Willmar and Benson. From 1902-1917 she lived in Winnipeg, Canada. Ostenso worked as a rural school teacher in Manitoba from 1917-18. Ostenso attended the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg in 1918 and Columbia University from 1921-22. In 1923 she returned to live in Minnespolis, Minnesota and then Gull Lake in Cass County from 1923-63. Ostenso wrote twenty-five novels, many based on farm life in Minnesota. She also wrote short stories and contributed serials to periodicals, including North American Review, Collier's, Woman's Home Companion, and Delineator. Her first novel Wild Geese (1925), about the Canadian wilderness, received a $13,500 cash prize for the year's best novel from Dodd, Mead, and Co. in 1926, and was later made into a movie. O River, Remember! (1943), her novel about a family in the Minnesota Red River Valley, was a Literary Guild choice in 1943. Her book, And They Shall Walk: The Life Story of Sister Elizabeth Kenny (1943), was adapted for the movie Sister Kenny (1946). Ostenso was a member of the National League of American Pen Women in the 1930's.

Selected Works
The titles below link to the catalog record in MnPALS, the Minnesota Historical Society’s library catalog. Please click on your browser's back button to return.

The Dark Dawn
A Far Land
The Mad Carews
A Man Had Tall Sons
Milk Route
O River, Remember!
Prologue to Love
The Sunset Tree
There's Always Another Year
And They Shall Walk: The Life Story of Sister Elizabeth Kenny
The Waters under the Earth
Wild Geese

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