Eleanor Gates (Sept. 26, 1875-March 7, 1951)

By David Schleper

Eleanor GatesEleanor Gates was born on September 26, 1875 in Shakopee, Minnesota. She was an American playwright, novelist, journalist, and children’s author, who created seven plays that were staged on Broadway, including her play The Poor Little Rich Girl, which later was made into a film for Mary Pickford (1917) and Shirley Temple (1936).

Eleanor was born in the Eagle Creek area. When she was a young girl, she moved to the Dakota Territory. She later described her early life in her novel, The Biography of a Prairie Girl in 1902:

“Up and down the oxen toiled before the plow, licking out their tongues, as they went along, for wisps of the sweet, new grass which the mold-board was turning under. After them came the biggest brother, striving with all his might to keep the beam level and the handles from dancing as the steel share cut the sod into wide, thick ribbons, damp and black on one side, on the other side green and decked with flowers. And following the biggest brother, trotted the little girl, who from time to time left the cool furrow to run ahead and give the steers a lash of the gad she carried, or hopped to one side to keep from stepping with her bare feet upon the fat earthworms that were rolled out into the sunlight, where they were pounced upon by rivaling blackbirds circling in the rear.”

The playwright is most known by her play The Poor Little Rich Girl. One of the favorite lines was:

“You’re the Poor Little Rich Girl.”
―Eleanor Gates, The Poor Little Rich Girl act 2, sc. 1 (1912)

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