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The first book written by Betty MacDonald, The Egg and I , rocketed to the top of the national bestseller list in 1945. Translations followed in more than 30 languages, along with a series of popular movies. In the wake of World War II, the hilarious accounts of MacDonald’s adventures as a backwoods farmer’s wife in Chimacum Valley were a breath of fresh air for readers around the world. On the negative side, her book spawned a perception of Washington as a land of eccentric country bumpkins like Ma and Pa Kettle.
Anne Elizabeth Campbell Bard, called Betsy in childhood and later known world-wide as Betty MacDonald, was born in Boulder, Colorado, to Darsie and Elsie/Sydney Bard on March 26, 1908. Her father, a mining engineer, moved the family frequently before settling in Seattle. Betty attended the St. Nicholas School on Capitol Hill, then Lincoln High School. In 1924 she graduated from Roosevelt High School.
On July 9, 1927, Betty Bard married Robert E. Heskett and moved with him to the farm in the tiny community of Center in the Chimacum Valley near Port Townsend that lacked both plumbing and electricity. Betty later regaled family and friends with stories of her struggles during this time, eventually transforming them into the book that would make her famous.
After four years, Betty left Robert Hesket, taking their two daughters, Anne and Joan, with her. She returned to the family home in Seattle and worked at various jobs, keeping her sense of humor and her journal even when tuberculosis forced her to spend a year at Firland Sanatorium in what is now the city of Shoreline.
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