Photo courtesy of reader Robert McMullen

J.N. “Ding” Darling

Jay Norwood “Ding” Darling (1876-1962) was a journalist, conservationist and Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist, who resided, in his later years, in a popular vacation spot — Sanibel Island.

According to (the writer spent his youth in Sioux City):

“Through the years Darling had become a very well known and highly respected journalist. Because of this respect he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Cartooning in 1924. There are only a few awards granted every year and they are given to only the best journalists. He received a second Pulitzer in 1942.

“By 1943 his health was beginning to decline and he worked less on both of his passions.  He retired from cartooning in 1949. In the 1950s and early ’60s most of his time was still spent on efforts to conserve wildlife areas. Ding Darling died in 1962, but his name is carried on by his cartoons and by the J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge in Florida. Many people still think of Darling as one of the best cartoonists ever and as a great conservationist.”

You can read about Darling at the website of the “Ding” Darling Wildlife Society at, and check out his work, like Prairie Gold!, at

J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge

The J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge is on the Florida literary trail because of its namesake. It is also known for excellent bird-watching. When visiting quaint Sanibel Island where the refuge is located, you will get a palpable sense of “Olde Florida,” where generations of shell-seekers have found a bounty of shells wash up on the shore from seas all over the world. (The photo below shows some we collected there.)

The shells carpet the beach so be sure to wear sturdy shoes. Leave flip-flops behind. Shell collectors favor the early morning to find the most exotic shells near the shoreline.

UPDATE (01/25/23): Sanibel Island is in recovery from Hurricane Ian and has limited access.

Sanibel Shells ©Author Adventures

Sanibel Island is the first stop on Florida Author Adventures Trail #3.

Patricia Smart