About Evelyn


The Birkby Family
The Birkby Family

Evelyn Birkby is a wife, mother, homemaker, newspaper columnist, author, and radio personality who for almost 60 years has enchanted her audience with her honest chatty ways, her warm stories, and wonderful recipes.

Daughter of a Methodist minister and a musical mother, Evelyn lived most of her early years in small towns in Iowa. After college she taught school for four years and then worked as Director of Religious Education in the Grace United Methodist Church in Waterloo, Iowa. She later became Youth Director at the First United Methodist Church of Chicago. Evelyn married her high school classmate Robert Birkby, and in 1948 they moved to a small farm south of Farragut, Iowa.

Since 1949, Evelyn has written a weekly column on rural Iowa life. The column, titled Up a Country Lane, was first written for the Shenandoah Evening Sentinel and currently for its successor, The Valley News Today. Since she started writing this column almost 60 years ago, Evelyn has the remarkable record of never having missed her weekly deadline.

Evelyn Birkby - A short video profile

Evelyn was also a "radio homemaker" for almost 40 years, broadcasting her warm words of wisdom on rural life over a five-state area on radio station KMA in Shenandoah, Iowa. For more than a quarter century Evelyn also was a regular monthly columnist for Kitchen-Klatter magazine, and broadcast on the syndicated Kitchen-Klatter radio program. Evelyn still airs a monthly radio visit with the KMA listening audience.

Evelyn is the author of ten books, Neighboring on the Air (published by the University of Iowa Press), describes the heyday of radio homemakers. Her book Up a Country Lane (also published by the University of Iowa Press), stitches together stories, photographs and recipes from Iowa farm life in the 1940s and 1950s.

Evelyn with husband Robert Birkby
Evelyn with husband Robert Birkby
60th Wedding Anniversary, 2006

Among the publications that have reviewed Evelyn's books are the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Smithsonian Magazine, The Farm Journal, Successful Farming, and many others. She has appeared on several national television programs, including the Today Show (CBS) and Nightly News with Peter Jennings (ABC). Evelyn was featured in a twelve-page article in New Yorker Magazine in the early 1990s. Evelyn was also the inspiration for Neighbor Dorothy, the main character in three of novelist Fannie Flagg's popular books: Welcome to the World Baby Girl, Standing in the Rainbow, and Can't Wait to Get to Heaven.

Evelyn is the mother of three adventurous sons, one remarkable daughter-in-law a "perfect" grandson, and a delightful granddaughter. Evelyn and her husband Robert live on picturesque Honey Hill in Sidney, Iowa.


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The Iowa Arts Council interviewed Evelyn in the summer of 2008 as part of their Iowa Roots oral history program. Click here to listen to that interview.