Wyatt Blassingame

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Wyatt Rainey Blassingame (born February 6, 1909 in Demopolis, Marengo County; died January 8, 1985 in Bradenton, Florida) was the author of several children's books under the pen name William B. Rainey.

Blassingame, the son of teacher Wyatt Childs and Maude Lurton Blassingame, attended Howard College in Birmingham for two years, then finished his bachelor's degree at the University of Alabama in 1930. He worked as a police reporter for The Montgomery Advertiser for two years before returning to school, but left again in 1933. He spent some time working aboard freighters before settling with his brother, Lurton, a New York literary agent. He spent his time writing and sold several stories to mystery pulp magazines like Terror Tales and Dime Mystery.

After marrying Gertrude Olsen in 1936, Blassingame moved his family to Anna Maria Island in Florida. During World War II her served in the U.S. Navy and received a Bronze Star and Presidential Unit Citation. He published his first book, a collection of his mystery stories, in 1944, and his first novel, For Better, For Worse in 1951. He became interested in American and Floridian folklore and wrote seven children's books based on "tall tale" characters before beginning an exhaustive series of nonfiction titles for young readers, many based on Florida topics. He continued to publish stories and magazine articles, through the 1970s. His 1956 story, "Man's Courage" won a Benjamin Franklin Magazine Award from the University of Illinois.

From 1948 to 1951 Blassingame taught writing at Florida Southern College in Lakeland and later taught at Manatee Junior College. He died in Bradenton, Florida in 1985. His papers are housed at the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg and the University of South Florida.


  • "Wyatt Blassingame" (December 12, 2009) This Goodly Land: Alabama's Literary Landscape - accessed November 18, 2013