Literary Birthdays: Alice Caldwell Hegan Rice

Today is the birth date of Kentucky-born novelist Alice Caldwell Hegan Rice (1870-1942).

Rice wrote the bestselling Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch (1901), which is set in Louisville, Kentucky (my hometown!).  (It was made into a movie starring W.C. Fields in 1934.) The book is “a social commentary on residents of the ‘Cabbage Patch’ area just west of today’s Old Louisville,” according to “Old Louisville in Literature.” This geographic area of focus is described in the book: “It was not a real cabbage patch, but a queer neighborhood, where ramshackle cottages played hop-scotch over the railroad tracks. There were no streets, so when a new house was built the owner faced it any way his fancy prompted.” The book focuses on the insurmountable poverty of the Wiggs family in this shantytown, and their various successes overcoming their economic and social circumstances. The book is available for free from Project Gutenberg, as are many of her works.

Other full-length works by Rice include

  • Lovey Mary (1903)
  • Sandy (1905)
  • Captain June (1907)
  • Mr. Opp (1909)
  • A Romance of Billy-Goat Hill (1912)
  • The Honorable Percival (1914).

Happy Reading!


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