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Ida Alexa Ross Wylie
(March 16, 1885 - November 4, 1959) Australia

I.A.R.Wylie

Writer

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Ida Alexa Ross Wylie, known by her pen name I. A. R. Wylie, was an Australian-British-American novelist, screenwriter, short story writer, and poet who was honored by the journalistic and literary establishments of her time, and was known around the world. Between 1915 and 1953, more than thirty of her novels and stories were adapted into films.

Born in Melbourne as Ida Alexa (or Alena) Ross Wylie, to Alexander Coghill Wylie from England and Ida Ross, a farmer's daughter from Australia.

Her autobiography My life with George is about her relationship with American doctor Sara Josephine Baker. Several films were based on her books or stories, like The Foreign Legion (1928) was based on The Red Mirage ; the 1942 film Keeper of the Flame with Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy was based on the book with the same name; and Torch Song (1953) with Joan Crawford was based on the story Why should I cry .

Her father, Alec Wylie, was in debt much of his life and often on the move from creditors. And so it was that sometime in the 1880s he fled England for Australia, but not before divorcing his first wife while proposing to her sister, Christine (who refused). In Australia, he soon married a plain farmer's daughter named Ida Ross. In 1888, Alec moved back to London with his new wife and young child, but Ida Ross died shortly thereafter. Alec then renewed relations with Christine, his first wife's sister, and Christine became the young Wylie's home school teacher and guardian, raising her while her father struggled from one crisis to the next.

I.A.R.WylieAfter spending three years in finishing school in Belgium, Wylie first studied in England, and later in Germany, where she also taught and began writing. Wylie's self-education at home meant she spent many hours making up her own stories to fill up time, and, at the age of 19, she sold her first short story to a magazine.

In 1914, Wylie returned to England just prior to the war, and joined the Suffragette movement. She provided a safe house for women who were released from prison where they could recover from hunger strikes without being watched by the police. She struck up a friendship with the editor of "The Suffragette", Rachel Barrett. In 1917, Rachel and Wylie traveled to America where they bought a car and roamed around the country, from New York to San Francisco, a remarkable journey with the state of roads and cars at the time.

Wylie eventually settled in Hollywood where she sold her stories. Over thirty movies were made between 1915 and 1953 based on her works.

Neither Baker nor Wylie ever declared themselves openly as lesbians, but according to Dr. Bert Hansen’s article, "Public Careers and Private Sexuality: Some Gay and Lesbian Lives in the History of Medicine and Public Health", the two women were partners.

In her autobiography My Life with George, , she acknowledges that many of her women friends refer to her as "Uncle," and as one critic says, her choice of being credited as "I. A. R. Wylie" instead of Ida Wylie was certainly an attempt to downplay her gender in publications.

In the 1930s, Wylie, Sara Josephine Baker and another pioneering woman physician, Dr. Louise Pearce, settled on a property near Skillman, New Jersey called Trevenna Farm. They lived there together until Baker died in 1945, followed by Pearce, and then later Wylie who died at the age of 74. Wylie and Pearce are buried alongside each other at Henry Skillman Burying Ground, Trevenna Farm's family cemetery.

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Sources: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Some of her books are:

  • Dividing waters (1911)
  • The red mirage (1913)
  • My life with George (1940)
  • The undefeated (1957)
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