History & Tourism

Literary Mansfield: The Grande Dame Of Science Fiction

25 Jan , 2021  

By 1812Blockhouse

Through our “Literary Mansfield” series, we take occasional looks at the lives and careers of those who have called Mansfield home at some point in their lives, and who have become known locally, regionally, or even nationally as authorst, poets, lyricisits, playwrights, or in other literary fields. Other posts in the series can be found here.

Today, we deviate just a bit by looking at the life of someone who may have never lived in Mansfield, but lies buried in Mansfield Cemetery and has strong familial connections to the city.

Her birth name was Mary Alice Norton, but her legions of fans know her by her pseudonym, Andre Norton. Other pseudonyms used by Norton included Andrew North and Allen Weston. Norton was born in Cleveland in 1912. Her mother, Daisy Stemm Norton, moved to Richland County at an early age and grew up largely in Mansfield and Shelby. Mary set out to become a history teacher, but difficult economic times took her instead to a position in a Cleveland library. It was there when, at the age of 22, she wrote her first novel.

Andre NortonThis was also when the name “Andre” was born. The readers of science fiction works, Mary’s chosen genre, were predominantly young men, and she thought that a male name would sell more books.

She was right.

She continued to write part time, and then moved to Maryland to open a bookstore. She became a full-time writer in 1958, and would go on to write over 130 published works of fiction — primarily in science fiction, but also in historical and general fiction.

Andre Norton received many awards, including the Grand Master Award from the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers’ Association in 1977 (the first woman to receive this award) as well as the Nebula Grand Master’s Award in 1984. The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers’ Association created an award for young writers in 2006, the year after Norton’s death, named affter her.

Life Magazine named her “The Grande Dame of Science Fiction.”

Norton moved to Murfreesboro, Tennessee in her later years, and died there in 2005 just after finishing her last book, “Three Hands of Scorpio.” Knowing that her health was failing, the publisher rushed prodction of a single copy of the work, which she was able to hold.’

For a listing of Andre Norton books available for purchase, click here. A good overview of her contributions to literature can be found here.

Sources: FindaGrave, Wikipedia, Ancestry.com; Image by Reimund Bertrams from Pixabay

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