FOUND IT! (Which is to say: Daly’s archive didn’t lie about the early gendering of her fan letters):
“Daly recalls that in the first few years following publication, ‘All the mail was from boys, perhaps because of the attractive girl on the cover. Later, the girls started writing, too.'”
Thank you, now-obscure author interview from 1986!
To be clear, the archive suggests that girls *were* writing from the beginning, but I suspect that Daly remembered this version because the girls continued to write to her, whereas the boys stopped.
Source: Daly, Maureen, and Kimberly Olson Fakih. “The Long Wait for Maureen Daly.” Publishers Weekly 229.26 (June 27, 1986): 36-39.
Now that the summer semester has ended (whoop!), I’m back at work on the letters to Daly. I didn’t take a total break–I was able to talk about different aspects of the letters at two conferences (PCA/ACA in Chicago; Children’s Literature Association in Columbia, South Carolina), but now it’s time to focus on an article!
But that’s not what this post is about. Instead, I simply wanted to share Peter D. Sieruta’s excellent Seventeenth Summer blog post that I came across today. Check it out here. If you’re interested in Daly, it provides some great backstory. In particular, here’s what Daly’s mother did with young Maureen’s first-place winnings from the Scholastic context:
When the fifty-dollar prize money arrived from Scholastic magazine, my mother signed my name on the check, cashed it, and bought herself a dress costing exactly fifty dollars, a high price at that time, at an exclusive women’s shop called Minnie Messing’s. I remember clearly the dress was a soft silk in a color known as “powder pink,” with a matching jacket in heavy lace.