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Kathryn Forbes

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Kathryn McLean née Anderson (March 20, 1908 - May 15, 1966), best known by her pen name Kathryn Forbes, was an American writer and memoirist.


Kathryn Anderson was born in San Francisco in 1909. Her grandmother had emigrated to California from Norway in the late 19th century; both of Anderson's parents were native-born Americans.

Forbes died in San Francisco in 1966. She is interred at Holy Cross Catholic Cemetery in Colma. (Section 5, Row 8, Grave 35), which is just south of the city where she was born and raised.


Forbes was a radio scriptwriter and later began publishing short stories in national magazines. Her best known work was Mama's Bank Account, a fictionalized memoir, published in 1943, about a Norwegian family in 1920s San Francisco. Her heartwarming stories focused on their simple aspirations and their often difficult struggles, dreams and determinations, happiness, and sorrows.

Forbes' book served as the inspiration for John Van Druten's 1944 play I Remember Mama, which subsequently became a 1948 film, a popular long-running television series as well as a Broadway musical.

In 1947, she published another novel, Transfer Point, regarding the daughter of divorced parents. Unlike Mama's Bank Account, for which she drew on the experiences of her Norwegian-born grandmother, the later novel was closer to Forbes' real-life childhood.

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