Shirley Seifert was born in 1888 in St. Peters, Missouri. Her parents were Richard Seifert and Anna Sanford Seifert. Shirley completed high school in St. Louis where she found her love of writing through inspirational teachers and a “wonderful world of books.” At Washington University in St. Louis, she majored in classical and modern languages.
Seifert enjoyed the study of history and languages and eventually taught English, Latin and history. In spite of her love for the subject matter, she soon found that she did not have a passion for teaching and moved on to writing professionally. Her journalism professors had encouraged her writing, and this led her to sell an article to Popular Science Monthly for $3. In 1919 Seifert wrote “The Girl Who Was Too Good Looking” and earned $100 from American magazine. Some of Seifert’s other writing endeavors were published in Redbook, McCall's, Ladies Home Journal, and New York Herald-Tribune Magazine.
Seifert’s literary career centered on historical fiction. Many of her novels were set in the American Midwest, featuring ordinary people living in extraordinary times. She rummaged through old records, letters, newspaper clippings, and diaries to develop factual information for her stories.
She wrote fifteen novels, about one novel every two years, and earned a noteworthy place in American literature during the mid-twentieth century when one of her novels, The Wayfarer, was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize.
Seifert was named “St. Louis Woman of Distinction” twice. She considered herself a greatly devoted citizen of St. Louis. She was one of the founding members of the St. Louis Writers Guild. She passed away in 1971.
Article by Danya Shaikh of the St. Louis Writer's Guild.