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Landon, Margaret (1903-1993) | Archival Collections at Wheaton College

Name: Landon, Margaret (1903-1993)

Historical Note:

Margaret Landon (September 7, 1903 – December 4, 1993) was an American writer who became famous for Anna and the King of Siam, her 1944 novel of the life of Anna Leonowens. Her book on Leonowens was published in 1944 and became an instant bestseller. It eventually sold over a million copies and was published in more than twenty languages. In 1950, Mrs. Landon sold the musical play rights to Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammenstein II, who created the musical The King and I from her book. A later work, Never Dies the Dream, about her own experiences, appeared in 1949.

Born as Margaret Dorothea Mortenson to Anenus Duabus "A.D." and Adelle Mortensen in Somers, Wisconsin, she was one of three daughters in a devout Methodist family. The family moved to Evanston, Illinois, where she graduated from Evanston Township High School in 1921. She attended Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois, graduating in 1925. She taught school for a year, then married Kenneth Landon, who she knew from Wheaton, and in 1927 they signed up as Presbyterian missionaries to Thailand. Between 1927-1937, in addition to having three children, Margaret Schoeherr, Carol Pearson, and William, while also running a mission school in Trang, Landon read extensively about the country. During her readings, she learned about Leonowens. When the family returned to America in 1937, she soon began writing articles and then began researching material for a book on Leonowens. The family moved to Washington, D.C. in 1942 when her husband joined the United States Department of State as an expert adviser on Southeast Asia. In 1947, Kenneth authored "Southeast Asia, Crossroad of Religion," subsequently reprinted in 1969 and 1974. He also wrote "The Chinese in Thailand" and "Siam in Transition." Her 4th child, Kenneth, Jr., was born in Washington, D.C. He followed the lead of his parents and took up writing about his own field of interest, releasing a weighty (904 pages) tome, "God of Glory: The Promise of Relationship" in 1992. Margaret Landon was married sixty-seven years. She died in Alexandria, Virginia, December 4, 1993, aged 90, leaving 13 grandchildren and twenty-five great grandchildren. One of her great grandchildren is also a writer. Mrs. Landon is interred in Wheaton Cemetery in Illinois.

Sources: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Margaret_Landon
Note Author: Wheaton College Archives & Special Collections staff

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