Zona Gale was born on 26th August 1874 in Portage, Wisconsin. She was exceptionally close to her parents and later used them as the basis for characters in her works.
She wrote and illustrated her first story at the age of 7 and by 16 she was being paid for stories from the Milwaukee Evening Wisconsin.
After studies at the University of Wisconsin, where she received a degree and two master's, she moved to New York and a job at the New York World newspaper. She was later hired as a secretary to Edmund Clarence Stedman, the poet, critic, essayist, banker, and scientist. and immersed herself in his literary circle.
Gale returned to Portage in 1903 and realized her old world was full of new possibilities. She now dedicated herself to full-time writing.
Her first novel ‘Romance Island’ was published in 1906 and she also began the popular ‘Friendship Village’ series of stories. In 1920 came ‘Miss Lulu Bett’, which depicts life in the Mid-West. Adapted into a play it won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1921. It was a stellar achievement.
After the deaths of her parents her works, both fiction and non-fiction, drifted towards mysticism and her belief that problems could be solved through a kind of transcendentalist enlightenment.
Gale was a suffragist, a liberal Democrat, an active member of the National Woman's Party and a pacifist. Much of her time was taken up with advancing opportunities for women both at school and in careers. It was a cause she repeatedly emphasized in her novels: women's frustration at their lack of opportunities.
In the mid 20’s she began caring for a young relative, Leslyn, and later adopted her. At age 54, she married William L Breese, a childhood friend. Now a widower, he was a wealthy banker and hosiery manufacturer. She also became a step-mother to his daughter, Juliette.
In mid-December 1938 she went to Chicago for medical treatment and contracted pneumonia a few days later.
Zona Gale died of pneumonia in Passavant Hospital in Chicago on 27th December 1938. She was 64.