Wilson Rawls is the author of Where the Red Fern Grows. Researching more
about him will help you learn his purpose for writing the book and other
interesting facts. This web page is about Wilson Rawls’ childhood,
his teens, and his adulthood.
Born in 1913, Wilson Rawls grew up in Scraper, Oklahoma. At that
time there were no schools in the area where he lived. His mom taught
him and his sisters how to read and write. She taught them how to
read by reading books to them and then having them to read to her.
Each child would read two pages until the book was finished. His mom
read books such as Little Red Riding Hood and the Little Red Hen. One
time his grandmother ordered a book called The Call of the Wild.
That book changed his life. He was only ten years old but he developed
a great love for reading and wanted to be a writer. Eventually a school
was built and he attended for a few years before dropping out in the eighth
His father was teaching him to be a carpenter but
he really wanted to be a writer. He thought it would be wonderful
if he wrote a book like The Call of the Wild. He started trying to
describe sounds he heard. His first writing was done in the place
where he grew up. He would write outside sitting on a dusty road or
beside a sandy riverbank. When he was fifteen years old, he and his
family moved to Oklahoma. Not long after that he left home and traveled
around looking for work.
He kept writing no matter where he traveled.
He never dared to show his stories to anyone because he was so ashamed of
his spelling, grammar, and punctuation. While he was in Idaho he met
Sophie Styczinski. In 1958 Sophie and Wilson decided to get married
but just before they did, he gathered all of his stories and burned them.
Even though he burned the stories he still wanted to be a writer.
He told Sophia of his dream to be a writer. He told her how he had
burned the stories before the wedding. She encouraged him to not
give up his dream of writing and told him that she would help him edit
the book. The first book he wrote was The Secret of the Fern.
He sent the book to publishers and they changed the name to Where the Red
Fern Grows. He wrote this book based on his personal experiences.
The book came out in 1961. The book later came out in hard back.
He wrote another book in Idaho and was asked to speak to school children.
He told them about his childhood and encouraged them to never give up on
their dreams One of the other books he wrote is The Summer of the Monkeys.
. In 1975, Wilson and Sophia Rawls moved to Cornell, Wisconsin where
Wilson died in 1984.