Woodrow Wilson Rawls was born in Scraper, Oklahoma, in 1913. The area had no schools and his family was extremely poor. His mother taught him how to read at home. She ordered books through the mail; one of those books was Jack Londonís Call of the Wild. It was then that Wilson decided he would write a book someday.
Wilson began to write as a youth. His lack of education made for poor grammar, spelling and punctuation. He was so ashamed of this, he kept his writing secret.
In 1958, just before Wilson was getting married, he burned all his writings, so his new wife Sophia would not know about his failures. When Wilson told his wife of his dream to be a writer she encouraged him to rewrite his story of his boyhood. Sophia helped him with the spelling and grammar. She praised the resultant book.
In 1961, the story was published by the Saturday Evening Post in a three-part series. Later that year it was published as a novel by Doubleday as Where the Red Fern Grows. Wilson continued his writing and in 1976 a second book titled Summer of the Monkeys was published. Both of Wilsonís books have received numerous awards. He died in December 1984.