Harriet Hassell was born and grew up on her family’s farm near Northport, Ala., in Tuscaloosa County. At age fifteen, she enrolled at the University of Alabama where she decided to become a writer. She left the University before completing her degree and went home to the farm to work on her writing. Hassell returned to the University seven years later and enrolled in Hudson Strode’s fiction-writing class. Her short story “History of the South” won a national contest and was included in an anthology of stories from Strode’s students, Spring Harvest. The following summer, Hassell wrote Rachel’s Children, which was published in 1938. Although the novel was well-liked by critics, and she received a fellowship that year to the Bread Loaf Writers Conference in Middlebury, Vt., Hassell did not publish again. She married a local attorney and moved with him to Port Washington, Long Island, N.Y. She was living there at the time of her death.
Harriet Hassell’s novel, Rachel’s Children, has been described as a Southern female version of Shakespeare’s King Lear. It is set on a fictional version of her family’s farm in Tuscaloosa County.
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Last updated on May 30, 2008.