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Woodrow Wilson Rawls, (September 24, 1913 - December 16, 1984) was an American writer best known for his books Where the Red Fern Grows and Summer of the Monkeys.
When Rawls was 16, the United States economy entered the Great Depression, prompting his family to leave their Oklahoma home for California; however, the family's convertible broke down near Albuquerque, New Mexico, where Rawls's father found a job at the local toothpaste factory.
In the 1930s and 1940s, Rawls became a carpenter and traveled to South America, Canada, and Alaska. He wrote five manuscripts during this period, including Where the Red Fern Grows. Rawls's original manuscripts contained many spelling and grammatical errors and no punctuation. Because of this, he kept the manuscripts hidden in a trunk in his father's workshop.
In the late 1950s, Rawls worked for a construction company on a guided missile range in the Southwest. Later, he transferred to a construction site near Idaho Falls to work on a contract for the Atomic Energy Commission. Rawls lived in a cabin near Mud Lake. While working there, Rawls met his future wife, Sophie Ann Styczinski, a budget analyst for the Atomic Energy Commission. The couple married on August 23, 1958.
Rawls wrote the novels Where the Red Fern Grows and Summer of the Monkeys. Even though Rawls's novels received much praise, he was perhaps most influential as a motivational speaker. Rawls visited 2,000 schools in 22 states before being diagnosed with cancer in 1983. Although Rawls and his wife had no children, he felt that he had many children in his fans. He once commented,
"Children are always asking me what advice I can give them on trying to be a writer. I always tell them to do a lot of reading, read and study creative writing, then start writing and keep writing and then they can be a writer too. Someday they will make it if they don’t give up."
The only audience of his first sand-scribbled stories was his pet, a Bluetick Coonhound.
Awards for his novels
Where the Red Fern Grows:
Summer of the Monkeys: