In 1927, Mazo de la Roche was an impoverished writer in Toronto when she won a $10,000 prize from the American magazine Atlantic Monthly for her novel Jalna. The book became an immediate bestseller. In 1929, the sequel Whiteoaks also went to the top of bestseller lists. Mazo went on to publish 16 novels in the popular series about a Canadian family named Whiteoak, living in a house called Jalna. Her success allowed her to travel the world and to live in a mansion near Windsor Castle. Mazo created unforgettable characters who come to life for her readers, but she was secretive about her own life and tried to escape the public attention her fame brought.