Peattie, Louise Redfield, 1900-1965

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Donald Culross Peattie (DCP), naturalist, author, and editor, was born in Chicago on June 21, 1898, the son of Robert Burns Peattie (1857-1930) and Elia Cahill Wilkinson (1862-1935). He grew up in Chicago and Omaha, where his father was a leading newspaper editor and his mother (EWP) became a well-known literary critic for the Chicago Tribune . She also was a poet and novelist, her works including Pippins and Cheese (1897), Lotta Embury's Career (1915), Sarah Brewster's Relatives (1916), Newcomers (1917), and Painted Windows (1918). Several of her books were designed by Bruce Rogers.

As a child, Peattie accompanied his mother to the Great Smokies region of western North Carolina, which he later described in his books Flowering Earth and Road of a Naturalist. It was at Tryon, North Carolina, that he began to discover the beauty of nature that was a dominant theme of his work.

Peattie first attended the University of Chicago, studying French, but a tramp along the Appalachian Trail, together with a visit to the famous 'glass flowers' at Harvard, convinced him that his future lay in science. He talked his way into Harvard as a student of botany and graduated cum laude in 1922.

Following Harvard, Peattie began his career with the U. S. Department of Agriculture, working in the Division of Foreign Seed and Plant Introduction, under the leadership of the brilliant plantsman and explorer David Fairchild. He came to Fairchild as the winner of the Witter Bynner Poetry Prize, and also as the author of a book eventually published as Flora of the Tryon Region of North and South Carolina . Fairchild perceived his divided loyalties as plantsman and writer, and encouraged him to seek horizons other than the world of botanical exploration.

In 1923 Donald Culross Peattie married Louise Heegaard Redfield, who he had known since high school. They collaborated on their first books, Down Wind and Cargoes & Harvests, and DCP wrote a column for the Washington Star, some of which later became part of An Almanac for Moderns . In 1928 they moved to the southern part of France, where they lived for five years and produced several books. On their return they lived at the farm in Glenview, Illinois, which was the birthplace of Louise Redfield. In 1937 they moved to Santa Barbara, California.

DCP achieved his greatest fame with An Almanac for Moderns (1935), which was awarded the Limited Editions Club's gold medal. He also was author of numerous other works, including: Cargoes and Harvests (1926), Bounty of Earth, with LRP (1926), Up Country, with LRP (1927), Down Wind, with LRP (1929), Flora of the Sand Dunes and the Calumet District of Indiana (1930), Vence, the Story of a Provencal Town (1930), Port of Call, with LRP (1932), Flora of the Tryon Region of North and South Carolina (six parts; 1928-1932), Sons of the Martian (1932), Natural History of Pearson's Falls (1933), The Bright Lexicon (1934), Singing in the Wilderness (1935), The Happy Kingdom: A Riviera Memoir, with LRP (1935), Green Laurels (1936), A Book of Hours (1937), A Child's Story of the World (1937), A Prairie Grove (1938), This Is Living, with Gordon Aymar (1938), A Gathering of Birds (1939), Flowering Earth (1939), Audubon's America (1940), The Road of a Naturalist (1941), Forward the Nation (1942), Journey into America (1943), Immortal Village (1945), American Heartwood (1949), A Cup of Sky, with Noel Peattie (1950), A Natural History of Trees of Eastern and Central America (1950), Sportsman's Country (1952), A Natural History of Western Trees (1953), Lives of Destiny (1954), Parade with Banners (1957), and The Rainbow Book of Nature (1957). He also was a roving editor for Reader's Digest (from 1943), writing dozens of articles for it and other magazines. He died in Santa Barbara on November 16, 1964.

Louise Heegaard Redfield Peattie (LRP) was born June 14, 1900. She was the daughter of Robert Redfield (1870-1920), the youngest District Attorney Chicago had known up to that time. Her brother was Robert Redfield (1908-1958), the noted anthropologist at the University of Chicago. Through her father's mother, she was connected with the Kennicott family. Her mother, Bertha Alexandra Dreier, was the daughter of the Danish consul in Chicago. Donald and Louise met in the high school of the University of Chicago, where he was editor of the school paper and she was a contributor. They learned printing together and set the type for his first work Blown Leaves (1916). They were married on May 22, 1923, and had four children: Celia Louise, Malcolm Redfield, Mark Robert, and Noel Roderick.

Louise Redfield Peattie was author of several novels, achieving fame in 1936 with the publication of American Acres . Other works included Dagny (1928), Up Country, with DCP (1928), Down Wind, with DCP (1929), Pan's Parish (1931), Wine with a Stranger (1932), Wife to Caliban (1934), Fugitive (1935), The Happy Kingdom: A Riviera Memoir, with DCP (1935), Tomorrow Is Ours (1937), A Child in Her Arms (1938), Lost Daughter (1938), Star at Noon (1939), The Californians (1940), and Ring Finger (1943). She also was the author of numerous articles. She died on February 19, 1965.

Further information on Donald Culross Peattie and Louise Redfield Peattie may be found in:

Concise Dictionary of American Biography . Who's Who in America, 1962-1963 .

From the guide to the Donald Culross Peattie and Louise Redfield Peattie Papers, 1912-1984, (University of California, Santa Barbara. Library. Dept. of Special Collections)

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Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Peattie, Donald Culross, 1898-1964. Donald Culross Peattie and Louise Redfield Peattie papers, 1912-1984. University of California, Santa Barbara, UCSB Library
creatorOf Donald Culross Peattie and Louise Redfield Peattie Papers, 1912-1984 University of California, Santa Barbara. Davidson Library. Department of Special Collections.
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associatedWith Peattie, Donald Culross, 1898-1964. person
Place Name Admin Code Country


Birth 1900

Death 1965



Ark ID: w68h0048

SNAC ID: 75332452