Vignette 287 > Kathleen Norris

Kathleen and Charles Norris

This famous author of over 93 novels spent part of her childhood in Mill Valley. Kathleen’s father, James Thompson, was a San Francisco banker. In 1890, he and his wife, Josephine, bought two lots on Molino. They had a shingled cottage built there in a redwood grove. Josephine named it “Treehaven.” In 1897 when she was 19 years old, both her parents died. As the oldest sibling she became effectively the head of a large family and had to work. Initially, she found employment in a department store. Next it was an accounting office, and later the Mechanic’s Institute Library. In 1905, she enrolled in a creative writing program at UC Berkeley and began writing short stories. In 1909, she married Charles Norris, the younger brother of Frank Norris, a famous novelist. Kathleen was a prolific writer. Many of her books became best sellers. Her stories appeared frequently in the popular press of the day. Her fiction promoted family and moralistic values, such as the sanctity of marriage, the nobility of motherhood, and the importance of service to others.The Mill Valley Public Library has many of her books.