Alice Hegan Rice

Alice Hegan Rice, also known as Alice Caldwell Hegan, (January 11, 1870 – February 10, 1942) was an American novelist. Her 1901 novel Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch became a play and four films.


Alice Hegan Rice was born on January 11, 1870, in Shelbyville, Kentucky to Samuel Watson Hegan and Sallie P. Hegan. Her father was an art dealer so she was born with a knack for creativity. As a child, she would entertain her family members with creative stories that she came up with on the spot. When she was in school, writing was obviously her strongest subject. She was so good at writing that she even had a submission that was published by the newspaper at the age of 15!

Rice had a relatively privileged upbringing, but her views on life changed when she went to a mission for Sunday School that was in a slum in Louisville called the “Cabbage Patch”. The mission was interrupted by a group of troublesome boys, but luckily Rice was able to diffuse the situation by enticing them with a story she just read.  For the rest of the mission she continued to tell them crazy stories about gangsters and pirates. This experience introduced her to the world of poverty and the underprivileged. She would later use this new found knowledge and go on to create her most widely known novel, Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch

Several of Alice Rice's earlier works were translated into German, French, Danish, and Swedish, and three (Mrs. Wiggs, Mr. Opp, and the Romance of Billy-Goat Hill) were dramatized. Alice married  Cale Young Rice, who was a poet and playwright, on December 18, 1902. They spent most of their life traveling the world and becoming known in the literary scenes of New York and London. She later became a part of a social movement that would help improve the working and living conditions of the poor, which would bring her to helping found the Cabbage Patch Settlement House in Louisville in 1910. After living a life full of helping and writing about others, she died in 1942 in Louisville, Kentucky.

List of works

  • Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch (1901)
  • Lovey Mary (1903)
  • Sandy (1905)
  • Captain June (1907)
  • Mr. Opp (1909)
  • A Romance of Billy-Goat Hill (1912)
  • The Honorable Percival (1914)
  • Calvary Alley (1917)
  • Miss Mink's Soldier and Other Stories (1918)
  • Turn About Tales (with Cale Young Rice) (1920)
  • Quin (1921)
  • Winners and Losers (with Cale Young Rice) (1925)
  • The Buffer (1929)
  • Mr. Pete & Co. (1933)
  • The Lark Legacy (1935)
  • Passionate Follies (1936)
  • My Pillow Book (1937)
  • Our Ernie (1939)
  • The Inky Way (1940)
  • Happiness Road (1942) (posthumous)


Further reading

  • Boewe, Mary (2010). Beyond the Cabbage Patch; the Literary World of Alice Hegan Rice. Louisville: Butler Books. ISBN 978-1-935497-33-2.
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