Meridel Le Sueur


Thanks to Josh and his school project for inspiring me.

Meridel Le Sueur was a writer who was born in Murray February 22, 1900, and died in Hudson, Wisconsin, on November 14, 1996. Her mother and stepfather were social activists who greatly influenced her values. She wrote short stories, poems, books, and newspaper articles. She also studied acting and worked on stage. In Hollywood she worked as an extra and as a stunt woman in The Perils of Pauline and The Last of the Mohicans.

She was a respected writer who was committed to feminism and left-wing politics. Her writing focused mainly on working class women and their issues, but she also wrote children's books such as A Story of Davy Crockett and The Story of Johnny Appleseed. She was a member of the Communist Party and was blacklisted by the House Committee on Un-American Activities in 1947. Her last novel Dread Road was published in 1991.

Meridel's parents were William Winston Wharton and Marian Lucy. (American National Biography online has an excellent article on Meridel's mother, Marian Le Sueur.) Marian and William married in 1895. She was 18 and had been born in Bedford Iowa. and he was a Drake divinity student. They moved to Boise, Idaho, but by 1900 he was the minister at the Church of Christ in Murray. By 1910 they were living in San Antonio, Texas and two sons had been added to the family. Winston was aged 6 and was born in Oklahoma. Mac M. Wharton was three and born in Texas. William Wharton divorced Marian in Texas on grounds of desertion.

The 1900 federal census shows the Wharton family living in Murray, on June 2nd, the date of the census. William W. was 28 and his birthdate is listed as May 1872. He was born in Indiana. He is listed as a minister. Celebrating our 100th Year, Murray, Iowa 1868-1968 lists him as serving the Church of Christ beginning that year. It does not say how long he stayed.

His wife is listed as Mary D. who was born August 1878 in Iowa. Three-month old Meridel is also listed. Marian is shown to have born two children with only one living.

Surprisingly Marian's mother, Mary Lucy was living next door. Mary was listed as the head of household. She was born January 1847 in Illinois. She is listed as having born five children with four of them living at that time. Living with her are her son Frank C., born January 1868 in Illinois, and daughter Margaret, born November 1881 in Illinois. Frank is listed as a farmer even though they were living in Murray. Some sources say Mary's maiden name was Mary Antoinette McGovern.

Le Sueur Links


A Multivoice memorial for Meridel Le Sueur 1900-1996

Includes personal remembrances of the writer


Women & Marxism authors

Bio and links to some of her short stories

Good biography


Celebrating International Women's Day - 1995

NY Times Obituary

Last revised August 29, 2010