“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Portage in Columbia County, Wisconsin — The American Midwest (Great Lakes)

Zona Gale

Zona Gale Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Keith L, June 7, 2009
1. Zona Gale Marker
Inscription.  Zona Gale was born August 26, 1874, in Portage. She graduated in 1899 from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a Masters in Literature. Gale then spent six years as a journalist in Milwaukee and New York.

Her visits to Portage proved a turning point, when Gale discovered that the people of her hometown were a source of literary material. She traveled frequently, returning to Portage and living with her parents in a home at 506 W. Edgewater that included a study of her own facing the Wisconsin River.

Gale won fame for her Friendship Village stories (1908-1919). The popular series described American small town life while subtly portraying Portage people and places. The success of the series established Gale as a popular fiction writer. Along with Sinclair Lewis, she wrote contemporary stories that celebrated local color, customs, and ordinary people.

Gale is perhaps best known for her novel Miss Lulu Bett (1920). Her stage adaptation of the novel the following year was equally successful and Gale became the first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for drama. In 1928 Gale married local
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industrialist William Llewelyn Breese. The couple raised a young child, Leslyn, whom Gale had assumed custody for before the marriage, a rare act for a single woman at that time.

Later in her life, Gale spent less time writing and devoted herself to Progressive causes. As an active member of the Women's Suffrage Party and Women's Peace Party, she lobbied extensively for the 1921 Wisconsin Equal Rights Law and supported Bob and Belle La Follette's work. Gale's political activism was her attempt to solve a problem she returned to repeatedly in her novels: women's frustration at their lack of opportunities, a topic she shared with friends Jane Addams and Charlotte Perkins Gilman. Gale continued writing and publishing until her death in December 1938. Her gravestone at Silver Lake Cemetery in Portage reads, "Life is something more than we believe it to be."
Erected 2007 by the Wisconsin Historical Society. (Marker Number 513.)
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Arts, Letters, MusicCemeteries & Burial SitesCommunicationsPeaceWomen. In addition, it is included in the Wisconsin Historical Society series list. A significant historical month for this entry is December 1938.
Location. 43° 32.375′ N, 89° 27.691′ 
Zona Gale Marker <i>(right side)</i> image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Keith L, June 7, 2009
2. Zona Gale Marker (right side)
W. Marker is in Portage, Wisconsin, in Columbia County. Marker is at the intersection of Cook Street (State Highway 33) and Wisconsin Street (State Highway 16) on Cook Street. Marker is at Commerce Plaza Park. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Portage WI 53901, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 2 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Frederick Jackson Turner (here, next to this marker); Society Hill Historic District (approx. 0.3 miles away); Trinity United Church of Christ (approx. 0.3 miles away); Pierre Pauquette Ferry (approx. 0.6 miles away); Ketchum’s Point (approx. ¾ mile away); Jacques Marquette and Louis Joliet (approx. ¾ mile away); Marquette (approx. 1.7 miles away); Fort Winnebago (approx. 1.7 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Portage.
Also see . . .
1. Zona Gale. Wikipedia entry. (Submitted on June 16, 2009.) 

2. Zona Gale. Works available online. (Submitted on June 16, 2009.) 
Credits. This page was last revised on December 28, 2019. It was originally submitted on June 16, 2009, by Keith L of Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin. This page has been viewed 1,813 times since then and 60 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on June 16, 2009, by Keith L of Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin. • Craig Swain was the editor who published this page.

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Oct. 4, 2023