Friday, January 4, 2013

American Women Writers of Fiction 1910-1960 (B)

NOTE: This list is a work in progress. Other sections will be added and linked to as they are completed. Please feel free to suggest other authors who are not yet included by commenting below or by emailing me. 


BAILEY, [IRENE] TEMPLE (20 Feb 1869 – 6 Jul 1953)
(aka Virginia Blair, aka Philip Kean)
1900s – 1940s
Author of nearly 30 volumes of fiction which cumulatively sold more than 3 million copies. At one time, she was earning more than $100,000 per novel for serial rights. The Dictionary of American Biography says of her work that "superficial plots and shallow characters are held together by a neat formula of high ideals, wholesomeness, self-sacrifice, and the inevitable happy ending." Titles include Judy (1907), Contrary Mary (1914), Adventures in Girlhood (1917), Gay Cockade (1921), Blue Window (1926), Wild Wind (1930), Enchanted Ground (1933), I've Been to London (1937), and Pink Camellia (1942). In later years, she was very secretive about her age, and several sources still suggest she was born in the 1880s, but a quick glance at Ancestry tells a different story…

BAKER, DOROTHY [ALICE] (21 Apr 1907 – 17 Jun 1968)
(née Dodds)
1930s – 1960s
Author of four novels, most famously Young Man with a Horn (1938), about the lives of jazz musicians, which was made into a popular film in 1950, starring Kirk Douglas, Lauren Bacall, and Doris Day. That novel and her final work, Cassandra at the Wedding (1962), have been reprinted by New York Review Books Classics. Her others are Trio (1943), which deals in part with lesbian themes, and Our Gifted Son (1948). Not to be confused with her British namesake (see Dorothy BAKER on my British & Irish list).

BALDWIN, FAITH (1 Oct 1893 – 18 Mar 1978)
(married name Cuthrell)
1920s – 1970s
Author of more than 70 romantic novels, summed up by Twentieth-Century Romance and Historical Writers: "Baldwin's novels are less romances than comedies: ripe, full of sunlight, crowded with people making do with each other. Comedies in the classical sense, her books are pledges of our willingness to live life with others no better than they might be and certainly no better than ourselves." Titles include Mavis of Green Hill (1921), Thresholds (1925), Departing Wings (1927), Broadway Interlude (1929), Self-Made Woman (1932), American Family (1935), Rich Girl, Poor Girl (1938), Letty and the Law (1940), He Married a Doctor (1944), The Whole Armor (1951), The Velvet Hammer (1969), and Adam's Eden (1977). Several of her novels were made into films in the 1930s.

BANNING, MARGARET [FRANCES] CULKIN (18 Mar 1891 – 4 Jan 1982)
(née Culkin, later married name Salsich)
1920s – 1970s
Author of more than 30 novels over a period just under 60 years, as well at least 400 stories published in periodicals. Most of her works for "problem" stories, exploring themes like women's rights, religious conflict, parenting, birth control, and domestic economy (her 1955 novel The Dowry deals with a wife making more money than her husband). Despite usually featuring a central social issue, critics noted that her novels were highly readable—of her debut, This Marrying, a reviewer said: "The success of the story lies not in an original plot, nor even in an unusual manner of telling the story, but rather in a certain freshness and joy in the experience of it all." Other titles include Country Club People (1923), Money of Her Own (1928), The Town's Too Small (1931), The Iron Will (1935), Out in Society (1940), The Clever Sister (1947), Fallen Away (1951), Echo Answers (1960), The Vine and the Olive (1964), and Such Interesting People (1979). She also published a wartime memoir, Letters from England, Summer 1942 (1942).

BARD, MARY [TEN EYCK] (21 Nov 1904 – 29 Nov 1970)
(married name Jenson)
1940s – 1960s
Sister of Betty MACDONALD. Author of three humorous memoirs of her own—The Doctor Wears Three Faces (1949), about meeting and dating her doctor husband, Forty Odd (1952), which continued her story into her forties, and Just Be Yourself (1956), about her experiences as a Brownie leader. She also published three works of fiction for girls—Best Friends (1955), Best Friends in Summer (1960), and Best Friends at School (1961), the first of which was reprinted in 2015.

BARKER, SHIRLEY [FRANCES] (4 Apr 1911 – 18 Nov 1965)
1940s – 1960s
Poet and author of nearly a dozen novels, most or all of them featuring historical themes and most set in her native New England. Her debut, Peace, My Daughters (1949), dealt with the Salem witch trials, while The Last Gentleman (1960) features a widow in Revolution-era New Hampshire choosing between two suitors. Other titles are Rivers Parting (1950), Fire and Hammer (1953), Tomorrow the New Moon (1955), Liza Bowe (1956), Swear by Apollo (1958), The Trojan Horse (1959), Corner of the Moon (1961), The Road to Bunker Hill (1962), and Strange Wives (1963).

BARNES, CARMAN [DEE] (20 Nov 1912 – 19 Aug 1980)
(married name Armstrong)
1920s – 1940s
Author of five novels, most notably the scandalous international bestseller Schoolgirl (1929), which was set in a girls' boarding school and included themes of lesbianism and sexual experimentation. She revisited that book's main character in her later novel Young Woman (1934). Her others are Beau Lover (1930), Mother, Be Careful! (1932), and Time Lay Asleep (1946). There's an interesting article about her life and work here.

BARNES, DJUNA [CHAPPELL] (12 Jan 1892 – 18 Jun 1982)
(married name Lemon, aka Lydia Steptoe, aka A Lady of Fashion, aka Gunga Duhl the Pen Performer)
1910s – 1930s, 1950s
Poet, journalist, illustrator, playwright, and novelist, considered one of the major forces of American Modernism, particularly owing to her 1936 novel Nightwood. Inspired in part by Barnes's tormented love affair with American sculptor Thelma Wood, the novel combines autobiographical details of Barnes's time in Paris, formal experimentation, dark humor, and poetry. Several of her earlier one-act plays had been produced by Eugene O'Neill's Provincetown Players, and her first major publication was A Book (1923), a collection of short stories, poems, plays, and drawings (an expanded edition appeared as A Night Among the Horses and the stories alone were later reissued under the title Spillway). One of her most widely read works is Ladies Almanack (1928), a humorous roman à clef about the Paris salon of Natalie Barney, consisting of numerous prominent lesbian artists and intellectuals. It was first anonymously published in a limited edition by "A Lady of Fashion" and was only finally reprinted in a wider edition in 1972. Her first novel, Ryder, also appeared in 1928, and became a surprise bestseller because of its scandalous, "mock-Elizabethan" portrayal of Barnes's own unconventional family life. The New York Post Office insisted upon censoring some drawings and text from the novel, and Barnes demanded that asterisks be used in their place to make the gaps obvious (no doubt adding to the popular appeal of the book). After Nightwood in 1936, Barnes largely fell silent, focusing on poetry and producing only one more major work, a play, The Antiphon (1958), a highly poetic, difficult work that makes more explicit use of her family history. Although she has come to be seen as a prominent lesbian figure, she also had important relationships with men, and she herself reportedly said, "I am not a lesbian. I just loved Thelma." Her Collected Stories appeared in 1996, and Collected Poems: With Notes Toward the Memoirs was published in 2005. Her journalism and shorter plays have also been compiled. Barnes's Steptoe pseudonym was used for several short dramatic works of the 1920s, and "Gunga Duhl, the Pen Performer" was the byline of some of her early journalism.

BARNES, MARGARET AYER (8 Apr 1886 – 25 Oct 1967)
(née Ayer)
1920s – 1930s
Sister of Janet Ayer FAIRBANK. Playwright and author of five novels, most notably the Pulitzer Prize-winning Years of Grace (1930). Barnes began writing only after a 1925 car accident which left her in casts and spinal braces for months. Within This Present (1933) and Wisdom's Gate (1938) continue the story begun in Years of Grace. Her other novels are Westward Passage (1931) and Edna His Wife (1935). She also published a story collection, Prevailing Winds (1928), co-wrote two plays with Edward Sheldon, Jenny (1929) and Dishonored Lady (1930), and had success on her own with an stage adaptation of Edith Wharton's The Age of Innocence.

BARNEY, NATALIE CLIFFORD (31 Oct 1876 – 2 Feb 1972)
Poet, playwright, and novelist. Although born in Ohio, she spent her adult life in Paris. Apart from one novel, The One Who Is Legion (1930), most of her work was published in French, and much of it has only been translated late in the 20th century, most notably in A Perilous Advantage: The Best of Natalie Clifford Barney (1992). In her own lifetime, she was far more influential as a hostess, maintaining a famous salon in her Paris home for more than half a century. Guests over the years included the likes of André Gide, Jean Cocteau, T.S. Eliot, Thornton Wilder, Sherwood Anderson, Sinclair Lewis, Ernest Hemingway, Edith SITWELL, Rainer Maria Rilke, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Isadora Duncan, Peggy Guggenheim, Ezra Pound, James Joyce and Truman Capote. Her final salon was reportedly held in the midst of the student riots of May 1968. She was the companion of painter Romaine Brooks for nearly half a century, although she also had other lovers (including Dolly Wilde, Oscar's flamboyant and tormented niece). Barney and her well-known lesbian circle were portrayed humorously but affectionately in Ladies Almanack, a short, anonymously published satire by Djuna BARNES.

BARTON, BETSEY A[LICE]. (6 Oct 1917 – 12 Dec 1962)
1940s – 1950s
Badly disabled in an auto accident at age 16, she first published a memoir of her long and painful rehabilitation, And Now to Live Again (1944), in part to inspire those injured in WWII. She then wrote a novel, The Long Walk (1948), detailing one day in a the life of a Veterans' Hospital for soldiers with spinal injuries. Her second and final novel, Shadow of the Bridge (1950), is set in a girls' boarding-school and focuses on a senior with deep resentments about her childhood. Saturday Review called it "a long, tortured groping through a psychological labyrinth," but also noted that Barton "succeeds to a remarkable degree in capturing the bewilderment and anger of the girl who is a victim of her own bitterness." Barton returned to the memoir form for her final book, As Love Is Deep (1957), about the death of her mother from cancer.

BASSETT, SARA WARE (22 Oct 1872 – Jul 1968)
1900s – 1950s
Novelist, children's author, and kindergarten teacher, whose fiction was often set on Cape Cod, primarily in two fictional villages, Belleport and Wilton. She was a talented artist and textile designer, but declined to accept a job as a designer because it would have meant leaving her home town. Instead, she worked for more than two decades as a kindergarten teacher. She began publishing short fiction, and her 1907 story "Mrs Christy's Bridge Party" was published in its own, 30-page volume and is therefore sometimes mistaken for her first novel, which is in fact The Taming of Zenas Henry (1915). Of that book and her next two, The Wayfarers at the Angel's (1917) and The Harbor Road (1919), the Biographical Cyclopedia of American Women said that Bassett "shows a delicate humor, set off by a delightful irony that does not disguise her complete and friendly understanding of a cordial, generous, and humorous people." According to her IMDB entry, in later life she divided her time between Cape Cod and Princeton, Massachusetts, and in the lattery she and her sister "ran a summer retreat … for unattached Boston area women who worked in the retail trade." Other fiction includes The Wall Between (1920), The Green Dolphin (1926), Twin Lights (1932), Hidden Shoals (1935), Shining Headlands (1937), An Ocean Heritage (1940), Anchorage (1943), Silver Moon Cottage (1945), The White Sail (1949), The Whispering Pine (1953), and The Girl in the Blue Pinafore (1957).

BATES, SYLVIA CHATFIELD (23 Feb 1882 – 8 Apr 1968)
1910s – 1950s
Author of ten volumes of fiction, including one initial story collection, Elmira College Stories (1911), about her own alma mater. Her other titles are Vintage (1916), Geranium Lady (1916), Golden Answer (1921), Andrea Thorne (1925), That Magic Fire (1928), I Have Touched the Earth (1934), The Long Way Home (1937), Floor of Heaven (1940), The Weather Breeder (1948), and The Silver Yoke (1951).

BEERS, LORNA DOONE (10 May 1897 – 5 Jun 1989)
(married name Chambers)
1920s – 1930s, 1950s
Novelist, children's author, and memoirist. Her three novels—Prairie Fires (1925), A Humble Lear (1929), and The Mad Stone (1932)—all have Midwestern farm settings, and were greeted with considerable acclaim. These would be her only adult novels, however, and she published no further books for two decades—in part, according to her Wikipedia page, because she was caring for her husband who had mental health difficulties. When she returned to writing fiction, she published two well-received children's titles, The Book of Hugh Flower (1952) and The Crystal Cornerstone (1955). She gained additional acclaim for her memoir, Wild Apples and North Wind (1966), about life on a farm in Vermont, to which she and her husband had retired. Thereafter she published only short works of fiction and poetry, though the manuscript of another novel was discovered among her papers.

BELL, LILIAN [LIDA] (19 Aug 1865 – 18 Jul 1929)
(married name Bogue)
1890s – 1910s
Author of more than a dozen novels, as well as two travel books, several works of non-fiction, and a children's book. To the best of my knowledge, her novels—some of which achieved substantial success in her day—are The Love Affairs of an Old Maid (1893), A Little Sister to the Wilderness (1895), The Under Side of Things (1896), The Instinct of Step-Fatherhood (1898), The Expatriates (1900), Sir John and the American Girl (1901), The Dowager Countess and the American Girl (1903), Hope Loring (1903), The Interference of Patricia (1903), At Home with the Jardines (1904), Carolina Lee (1906), The Concentrations of Bee (1909), Angela's Quest (1910), and About Miss Mattie Morningglory (1916). As Seen by Me (1900) and Abroad with the Jimmies (1902) are humorous books about her various travels. From a Girl's Point of View (1897) and Why Men Remain Bachelors and Other Luxuries (1906) are collections of essays, while The Story of the Christmas Ship (1915) appears to be an inspirational memoir. Her children's title is The Runaway Equator, and the Strange Adventures of a Little Boy in Pursuit of It (1911), and she later published a single play (presumably also for children) called The Land of Don't-Want-To (1928).

BELL, PEARL [E.] DOLES (2 Apr 1883 – 11 Mar 1968)
(née Doles, later married name Rubens)
1910s – 1920s
Author of about eight novels, apparently romantic in theme, some of which were made into early films. Titles are The Depot Master (1910), Gloria Gray, Love Pirate (1914), His Harvest (1915), Her Elephant Man: A Story of the Sawdust Ring (1919), Autocrat (1922), Sandra (1924), The Love Link (1925), and Slaves of Destiny (1926). She appears to have stopped writing after her second marriage in 1927.

BELL, SALLIE LEE (30 Jul 1885 – May 1970)
(née Riley)
1930s, 1950s-1960s
Author of more than 30 volumes of fiction which she described as "Christian novels." Many of her works were historical in theme, some set in Biblical times. Titles include Marcel Armand: A Romance of Old Louisiana (1935), Until the Day Break: A Novel of the Time of Christ (1950), Street Singer (1951), Queen's Jest: A Romance of the Time of Louis XVI (1952), Riven Fetters: A Romance of the Early Christian Era (1953), Torchbearer (1956), Snare (1959), At the Crossroads (1963), Light From the Hill (1965), Down a Dark Road (1968), and Overshadowed (1969).

BENNETT, DOROTHY [EVELYN] (12 Sept 1902 – 9 Mar 1992)
(married name Kewley)
Author of one mystery novel in traditional form, Murder Unleashed (1935), set in San Francisco and now available in e-book, and one quite unusual mystery, How Strange a Thing (1935), in which the story is told entirely in verse. The Passing Tramp discussed the latter here. She is not to be confused with three other Dorothy Bennetts writing around the same time: a Dorothy Agnes Bennett, born Minneapolis, curator at the Hayden Planetarium and editor of Simon & Schuster's "Little Golden Books" for young children, a Dorothy Bennett née Barnes, a British crime novelist, and yet another Dorothy Bennett, born Indiana, who wrote several plays and then became a Hollywood screenwriter.

BENNETT, GWENDOLYN B[ENNETTA]. (8 Jul 1902 – 30 May 1981)
(married names Jackson and Crosscup)
Artist, journalist, illustrator, painter, poet, and short story author. She was a significant figure in the Harlem Renaissance, publishing a regular column in the African-American periodical Opportunity and beginning a support group for African-American writers that became a veritable who's who of major black authors. Sadly, however, her work was never collected in her lifetime and some of it has likely been lost. Her poems have sometimes appeared in anthologies, and she published at least two short stories in the 1920s, which allow her to just squeak onto this list.

BENSON, MILDRED (10 Jul 1905 – 28 May 2002)
(née Augustine, earlier married name Wirt, aka Carolyn Keene, aka Frank Bell, aka Joan Clark, aka Don Palmer, aka Helen Louise Thorndyke, aka Julia K. Duncan, aka Alice B. Emerson, aka Frances K. Judd)
1930s – 1950s
Journalist and children's author, best known for being the main author behind most of the early Nancy Drew books, published under the collective pseudonym Carolyn Keene. Benson reportedly wrote more than 20 of the first 30 books in the series (often from outlines created by the Stratemeyer Syndicate, which owned the series), but did so for flat fees, retaining no copyright, though she and other contributors were eventually granted a share of royalties. She worked on well over 100 children's titles in all, including works for several other series including those featuring Kay Tracey, Penny Parker, and the Dana Girls. The Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives singles out the four-book Ruth Darrow series (1930-1931) for attention. Written under Benson's earlier married name, Mildred Wirt, the series focused on a young woman pilot. According to Scribner, "The aeronautical lore in the books is generally authentic, but the series' greatest strength is its consistent and outspoken advocacy of women's abilities and mechanical competence." Benson was a journalist throughout most of her life, and her life seems to have been an adventurous one: she travelled a lot in Central American, took an interest in archaeology, and was herself a trained pilot.

BENSON, SALLY (SARA) [MAHALA REDWAY] (3 Sept 1900 – 19 Jul 1972)
(née Smith, aka Esther Evarts)
1930s – 1940s
Screenwriter, novelist, and short story writer, best known for the numerous stories she contributed to The New Yorker. Her two best-known books, Junior Miss (1941) and Meet Me in St Louis (1942), were collections of vignettes that first appeared in that magazine. Junior Miss follows the adventures and dilemmas of 13-year-old Judy Graves, and went on to become a play, a radio series, a film, and a musical. Meet Me in St Louis, whose New Yorker vignettes appeared under the title "5135 Kensington," was published during World War II and presented a nostalgic and semi-autobiographical look at St Louis in the year leading up to the 1904 World's Fair. Benson published three additional collections of stories—People Are Fascinating (1936), Emily (1938, published in the U.K. as Love Thy Neighbour), and Women and Children First (1943). She also released Stories of the Gods and Heroes (1940), retellings of Greek and Latin myths for children. A few of her stories appeared in The New Yorker under her pseudonym. Benson's screenwriting credits include Hitchcock's Shadow of a Doubt (1943), Anna and the King of Siam (1946), for which she received an Oscar nomination, and The Singing Nun (1966).

BERCKMAN, EVELYN [DOMENICA] (18 Oct 1900 – 18 Sept 1978)
1950s – 1970s
Author of more than two dozen novels, including straightforward mysteries, romantic suspense, historical fiction, and supernatural tales. Her earliest titles, including The Evil of Time (1954), The Beckoning Dream (1955, aka Worse Than Murder), The Strange Bedfellow (1956, aka Jewel of Death), and The Hovering Darkness (1958), were psychological thrillers. Other novels include Do You Know This Voice? (1960), A Simple Case of Ill-Will (1964), The Heir of Starvelings (1967), A Finger to Her Lips (1971), and The Victorian Album (1973). She was also a musician and composer.

BEST, [EVANGEL] ALLENA (4 Jan 1892 – Feb 1974)
(née Champlin, earlier married name Berry, aka Erick Berry, aka Anne Maxon)
1920s – 1970s
Illustrator and author of more than 60 children's titles, many historical in theme and most under her Erick Berry pseudonym. She received a Newbery Honor for her 1933 work The Winged Girl of Knossos (1933). Various other books were set in Africa, Scandinavia, or in various periods of American history. Hudson Frontier (1942) is set in an early Dutch settlement, while The Wavering Flame: Connecticut, 1776 (1953) is set at the beginning of the American Revolution. Illustrations of Cynthia (1931) is set at an art school, and Careers of Cynthia (1932) and Cynthia Steps Out (1937) are presumably sequels. She appears to have used the Anne Maxon pseudonym for a single title, The House That Jill Built (1934) (though its illustrations are still credited to Erick Berry, surely a rare example of an author using two pseudonyms at the same time on the same book). She was married to boys' story writer Herbert Best, and illustrated many of his books as well as her own and some by other authors. Other of her titles include Girls in Africa (1928), Strings to Adventure (1935), Honey of the Nile (1938), The Tinmaker Man of New Amsterdam (1941), Hearth-Stone in the Wilderness (1944), The Little Farm in the Big City (1947), Sybil Ludington's Ride (1952), Horses for the General (1956), Stars in My Pocket (1960), The Four Londons of William Hogarth (1964), When Wagon Trains Rolled to Santa Fe (1966), and The Valiant Little Potter (1973).

BIANCO, MARGERY [WINIFRED] (22 Jul 1881 – 4 Sept 1944)
(née Williams, aka Margery Williams, aka Harper Williams)
1900s – 1940s
Best known for her classic children's book The Velveteen Rabbit (1922), Bianco's first published works (under her maiden name) were four novels—The Late Returning (1902), Spendthrift Summer (1903), The Price of Youth (1904), and The Thing in the Woods (1913)—the last a horror tale about a werewolf in Pennsylvania, published under the pseudonym Harper Williams. After the success of The Velveteen Rabbit, she focused mainly on children's books, including Poor Cecco (1925), The Little Wooden Doll (1925), The Skin Horse (1927), The Adventures of Andy (1927), The House That Grew Smaller (1931), The Hurdy-Gurdy Man (1933), and Green Grows the Garden (1936). Another 1936 title, Winterbound (1936), was a runner-up for the Newbery Medal. Two later works—Other People's Houses (1939), about a young woman trying to make a living in New York City, and Bright Morning (1942), described as an autobiographical novel, seem to be for adults or at least older children. She also translated several French works into English, and co-wrote a single play, Out of the Night (1929), described as a mystery comedy. (Bianco is something of an in-between author for this list, as she was born in England, emigrated to the U.S. at age 9, then spent a number of years back in the U.K. and Europe as an adult. She seems to have been a U.S. citizen, however, so in this case I've let that determine where she belongs.)

BIRD, DOROTHY MAYWOOD (12 Jul 1899 – 1 Nov 1989)
(née Maywood)
Author of three girls' adventure stories. Granite Harbor (1944) is about a young girl adjusting to her move from Texas to Michigan, near Lake Superior. Mystery at Laughing Water (1946) is about a girl's adventures at summer camp, including solving a mystery dating to the 1820s. And in The Black Opal (1949), a young college girl who aspires to be a journalist attempts to solve a murder mystery from the 1840s. Barb at Leaves & Pages wrote positively about the last here.

BISHOP, ELIZABETH (8 Feb 1911 – 6 Oct 1979)
Best known by far for her poetry, and considered one of the major 20th century American poets, Bishop also wrote a few works of short fiction, as well as some short works that blend fiction and memoir. These were collected in The Collected Prose (1984).

BODEN, CLARA [HALL] NICKERSON (14 Oct 1883 – 1 Jan 1959)
(née Nickerson, married name changed from Bodenstein)
Author of a single book, alternatively reviewed as an adult novel or as young adult fiction. The Cut of Her Jib (1953) is based on the journals of Boden's own grandmother, and tells the story of a young schoolteacher in mid-19th century Cape Cod, who falls in love with a sea captain. Barbara Clark reviewed the book here, and summed up: "With remarkable brevity and clarity, Boden describes the proud women who welcomed their sailors home; men who brought their wives jade, exotic seashells or intricately woven shawls from their long journeys, which often lasted two or more years."

BONIFACE, MARJORIE (23 Oct 1896 – 23 Dec 1974)
(née Grissett)
Author of three mystery novels featuring Mabel Wickley, a Brooklyn widow who keeps getting involved with murder in Texas. Titles are Murder as an Ornament (1940), Venom in Eden (1942), and Wings of Death (1946).

BONNER, GERALDINE [MAY] (c1863 - 17 Jun 1930
(aka Hard Pan)
1900s – 1920s
Author of more than a dozen novels, some of them set in and around mining camps. Her first, Hard-Pan: A Story of Bonanza Fortunes (1900), appeared under her pseudonym. The others include Tomorrow's Tangle (1903), The Castlecourt Diamond Case (1905), Pioneer: A Tale of Two States (1907), Emigrant Trail (1910), The Girl at Central (1915), Treasure and Trouble Therewith (1917), Miss Maitland, Private Secretary (1919), and Taken at the Flood (1927).

BONNER, MARGERIE (17 Feb 1905 – 28 Sept 1988)
(married name Lowry)
Best known as the wife of British novelist Malcolm Lowry, and for playing an important role in the editing of his manuscripts, Bonner had been an early film actress and also published three novels of her own. The first two—Shapes That Creep (1944) and The Last Twist of the Knife (1946)—were mysteries, while the third, Horse in the Sky (1947), published the same year as Lowry's most famous work, Under the Volcano, seems to have been more serious and ambitious. She reportedly wrote a fourth novel called The Castle of Malatesta, but it was never published. Bonner appeared in several films (using the more traditional "Marjorie" as a first name), including Cecil B. De Mille's The King of Kings, and her older sister, Priscilla Bonner, was also an actress.

BORDEN, [EMILIE] LUCILLE (30 Mar 1873 – 7 Dec 1962)
(née Papin)
1920s – 1940s
Author of at least a dozen volumes of fiction informed by her Roman Catholicism. Titles include Gates of Olivet (1922), The Candlestick Makers (1923), Gentleman Riches (1925), From Out Magdala (1927), Sing to the Sun (1933), Starforth (1937), and From the Morning Watch (1943).

BORDEN, MARY (15 May 1886 – 2 Dec 1968)
(went by "May", married names Turner and Spears, aka Bridget Maclagan)
1910s – 1950s
Author of more than 20 volumes of fiction, though she is most famous for The Forbidden Zone (1929), composed of sketches and poetry concerning her experiences running a mobile hospital in France during World War I. That book was called by the ODNB "one of the greatest of all wartime books by a woman." In World War II, Borden ran another hospital, this time in the Middle East, and she wrote about that experience in Journey Down a Blind Alley (1946). Borden's first three novels—The Mistress of Kingdoms, or, Smoking Wax (1912), Collision (1913), and The Romantic Lady (1916)—appeared under her pseudonym. The last is, according to ODNB, "about an American girl encountering English bohemia." Sarah Gay (1931, published in the U.S. as Sarah Defiant) is about a nurse on the Western Front. Passport for a Girl (1939) deals with the approach of World War II in England. Martin Merriedew (1952, aka You, the Jury) is about the trial of a pacifist accused of treason. Other novels include Jane—Our Stranger (1923), Flamingo, or, The American Tower (1927), The King of the Jews (1935), For the Record (1950), and The Hungry Leopard (1956). She was an aunt of Adlai Stevenson and, following her daughter's marriage in 1933, the mother-in-law of publisher Rupert Hart-Davis.

BOUTELL, ANITA (10 May 1894 – 19 Oct 1972)
(née Day, earlier married names Kearney and Porterfield)
1930s – 1940s
Author of four well-received crime novels. According to The Passing Tramp, the first, Death Brings a Storke (1938), is a traditional whodunnit set in an English village, while the three later novels—Tell Death to Wait (1938), Death Has a Past (1939), and Cradled in Fear (1943), are more psychological suspense. The Passing Tramp discussed her books and her sometimes dramatic life here.

BOWER, B[ERTHA]. M[UZZY]. (15 Nov 1871 – 23 Jul 1940)
(née Muzzy, later married names Sinclair and Cowan, aka Bertrand W. Sinclair)
1900s – 1940s
Screenwriter and prolific author of more than 70 volumes of fiction, most of it set in the American west in pioneer days and often featuring well-developed female characters in a genre usually dominated by men. A blog post here says of Bower's work, "She wrote of strong women characters (something I like) with a humorous touch. She did not idealize the pioneering western life, which she described as 'ninety percent monotonous isolation to ten percent thrill.'" Her first novel published in book form was Chip, of the Flying U (1906), about a cowboy named Chip Bennett and the ranchhands of a ranch in Montana, was a success and inspired several more volumes about the same ranch. It was also filmed four times, and Bower worked on the screenplays for at least the first three. She also adapted some of her other novels for the screen, as well as writing some original screenplays. Some of these, as well as nearly a dozen of her novels, were written under her pseudonym. Among her many other titles are The Long Shadow (1909), Land of Frozen Suns (1910), North of Fifty-Three (1914), Jean of the Lazy A (1915), Starr of the Desert (1917), Cow Country (1921), The Bellehelen Mine (1924), Points West (1928), The Long Loop (1931), The Haunted Hills (1934), The North Wind Do Blow (1937), and The Family Failing (1941). There's a fascinating article about Bower's early life and family history as pioneers in Montana, written by her granddaughter Kate Baird Anderson, here (from which, among other things, we learn that family members called the author "Bert" for short). Anderson also published two collections of Bower's short fiction, The Terror: Western Stories (2003) and The Law on the Flying U: Western Stories (2005).

BOWLES, JANE [SYDNEY] (22 Feb 1917 – 4 May 1973)
(née Auer)
1940s – 1960s
Wife of novelist Paul Bowles. Playwright, story writer, and author of a single highly-praised novel, Two Serious Ladies (1943), which remains in print. Her output as an author was limited by mental health issues, alcohol and drug use, difficult personal relationships, and major health conditions. She wrote one major play, In the Summer House (1951), which received a lukewarm reception when it was produced in 1954, and a story collection, Plain Pleasures (1966). A "puppet play" called Quarreling Pair was written around 1945, but not published until its appearance in Mademoiselle in 1966. My Sister's Hand in Mine: The Collected Works of Jane Bowles (1978) collected the novel, play, and story collection. In 1989, Virago released Everything Is Nice, which brought together additional stories, plays, fragments of two additional novels, deleted passages from Two Serious Ladies, and several letters. Her selected letters appeared as In the World (1985).

BOYD, [MARGARET] WOODWARD (11 Mar 1894 – 3 Sept 1965)
(née Smith, later married name Shane, aka Peggy Shane)
1920s – 1930s
Playwright and author of five novels, the first three as Woodward Boyd, the latter two as Peggy Shane. The Love Legend (1922) deals with four Chicago sisters trying to overcome their mother's overly romantic views. The others are Lazy Laughter (1923), The Unpaid Piper (1927), Tangled Wives (1932), and Change Partners (1934). She also co-wrote, with Arthur Sheckman, a play called Mr Big (1941). Her first husband was Thomas Boyd, author of the acclaimed WWI novel Through the Wheat (1923).

BOYLE, KAY (KATHERINE) [EVANS] (19 Feb 1902 – 27 Dec 1992)
(married names Brault, Vail, and von Franckenstein)
1930s – 1990s
Poet and author of more than two dozen volumes of fiction, including 17 novels, several story collections, and three works for children. Considered a highly significant American Modernist, she also drew inspiration from her concern with social issues including woman's rights, racial equality, and gay rights. She lived in France for nearly 20 years, and worked alongside many of the expatriate authors in Paris in the 1920s, as described in the rather odd memoir Being Geniuses Together, 1920-1930 (1968), in which Boyle interspersed chapters of her own recollections with those from an earlier book by Robert McAlmon (and cut a fair amount of McAlmon's content along the way). Boyle's novels include Plagued by the Nightingale (1931), Year Before Last (1932), Death of a Man (1936), Defeat (1941), Primer for Combat (1942), A Frenchman Must Die (1946), The Seagull on the Step (1955), The Underground Woman (1975), and Winter Night (1993). Her previously unpublished first novel, Process, written in the 1920s, was published in 2001. Collections of her short works include Fifty Stories (1980), Collected Poems (1995), and Words That Must Somehow Be Said: Selected Essays of Kay Boyle, 1927-1984 (1985).

BOYLSTON, HELEN DORE (4 Apr 1895 – 30 Sept 1984)
1930s – 1950s
Trained nurse, diarist, and children's author. Best known for her series of books about Sue Barton, based on her own training, which follow their heroine from her days as a student nurse through various stages of her career. Titles are Sue Barton, Student Nurse (1936), Sue Barton, Senior Nurse (1937), Sue Barton, Visiting Nurse (1938), Sue Barton, Rural Nurse (1939), Sue Barton, Superintendent of Nurses (1940), Sue Barton, Neighborhood Nurse (1949), and Sue Barton, Staff Nurse (1952). In the 1940s, she also published a series about a young actress, including Carol Goes Backstage (1941), Carol Plays Summer Stock (1942), Carol on Broadway (1944), and Carol on Tour (1946). Boylston worked with the Red Cross during World War I and on into the 1920s, from which came her first published work, "Sister": The War Diary of a Nurse (1927). She also made friends with Rose Wilder LANE during her time in Europe, and a journal of their road trip across Europe was published as Travels with Zenobia: Paris to Albania by Model T Ford in 1983. Fans of her Sue Barton series will certainly want to check out this blog post and the two subsequent posts, which provide details of Boylston's real life, including some of the people and places upon which her books may have been based.

BRAINERD, EDITH RATHBONE (22 Apr 1884 – 28 Jan 1922)
(née Jacobs, aka E. J. Rath, with her husband J. Chauncey Corey Brainerd [1874-1922])
1900s – 1920s
Author, along with her husband, of around 20 volumes of fiction, much of it first appearing in periodicals. Several of their novels were adapted as early films. Titles include The Sixth Speed (1908), Mister 44 (1916), Too Many Crooks (1918), The Mantle of Silence (1920), The Nervous Wreck (1923), The Brains of the Family (1925), A Good Indian (1927), The Flying Courtship (1928), and Let's Go (1930). Brainerd and her husband were both killed, along with dozens of others, in the roof collapse at the Knickerbocker Theatre in Washington DC in January 1922—see details here. Many of their novels appeared in book form for the first time in the years after their deaths, presumably having only appeared in serialized form in earlier years.

BRAINERD, ELEANOR HOYT (31 Jan 1868 – 18 Mar 1942)
(née Hoyt)
1900s – 1910s
Author of nearly a dozen volumes of fiction, most or all of them aimed at girls or young women. Titles include Elizabeth: A Story of the Oklahoma Run (1902), The Misdemeanors of Nancy (1902), Concerning Belinda (1905), In Vanity Fair (1906), The Personal Conduct of Belinda (1910), Pegeen (1915), How Could You, Jean? (1917), and Our Little Old Lady (1919).

BRANDE, DOROTHEA (12 Jan 1893 – 17 Dec 1948)
(née Thompson, later married name Collins)
Bestselling early self-help author and novelist. Her first publication was a guide to Becoming a Writer (1934), which has often been reprinted, and was followed by her biggest success, Wake Up and Live! (1936), an inspirational guide to self-fulfillment which has been reprinted in recent years. It was a major bestseller and was adapted into, of all things, a movie musical starring Walter Winchell. Brande tried her hand at writing a crime novel, The Most Beautiful Lady (1935), and her later novel, My Invincible Aunt (1938), was a humorous tale of what happens to an elderly woman when she is inspired by a book not unlike Wake Up and Live! An additional volume, Letters to Philippa (1937), appears to also be a novel, though I could locate no details. Brande seems not to have published any additional books—perhaps because of her outspoken advocacy of an American form of fascism.

BRINK, CAROL RYRIE (28 Dec 1895 – 15 Aug 1981)
(née Ryrie)
1920s – 1970s
Children's author and novelist best known for her 1935 Newbery Medal winner Caddie Woodlawn (1935), about an 11-year-old girl on a farm in frontier Wisconsin, which has remained perennially popular ever since. Brink later adapted it as a play, and Magical Melons (1944) is a collection of additional stories about Caddie. Brink also published more than a dozen other volumes of children's fiction, as well as several novels for adults. Baby Island (1937) is a comedy about two girls stranded on a Pacific island with four babies. Family Grandstand (1952) and Family Sabbatical (1956) are about the children of a college professor and a mystery writer, and is loosely based on Brink's own childhood in St Paul. The Pink Motel (1959) is about the eccentric guests at a Florida hotel. Other children's books include Anything Can Happen on the River! (1934), Mademoiselle Misfortune (1936), All Over Town (1939), Winter Cottage (1968), and The Bad Times of Irma Baumlein (1972). Some of Brink's novels for adults have historical settings but darker subject matter. Buffalo Coat (1944) is about doctors in Idaho in the late 19th century. According to Brink's entry, The Headland (1955), set in France, is "a curiously flawed novel about five young people to whom World War II brings tragedy." Brink said of Snow in the River (1964), set in a fictionalized version of her hometown of Moscow, Idaho, that it "is probably as near to an autobiography as I shall ever write." The other works for adults are Stopover (1951), Strangers in the Forest (1959), Château St. Barnabé (1963), and The Bellini Look (1976). She did also write a short reminiscence, Four Girls on a Homestead (1978).

BRODY, CATHARINE (13 Dec 1900 – 1962?)
(named changed from Borodovko)
1920s – 1930s
Journalist and author of four novels—Babe Evanson (1928), West of Fifth (1930), Nobody Starves (1932), and Cash Item (1933). In the early 1930s, she wrote a series of articles based on her experiences working at various jobs in 20 different American cities, and Nobody Starves, a tragic story of Depression-era Detroit, grew out of her experiences at a Detroit automobile factory. According to her passport application, Brody was apparently born (as Borodovko) in Russia, though her family relocated to New York soon after. She was a friend of Rose Wilder LANE, and was definitely still alive in 1960 when her mother's death notice appeared in the New York Times, but we have so far been able to find a record of her death. The date above comes from an Ancestry family tree with no supporting record.

BROOKS, GWENDOLYN [ELIZABETH] (7 Jun 1917 – 3 Dec 2000)
(married name Blakely)
One of the major American poets of the 20th century, and the first African-American recipient of the Pulitzer Prize in 1950, for Annie Allen, Brooks also published a single novel, Maud Martha (1953). At least partly autobiographical in content, Maud Martha, set in Brooks' native Chicago, uses short vignettes to tell of the title character's growth from childhood to adulthood, marriage, and motherhood, against a backdrop of racism and personal insecurity. A later work, In the Mecca (1968), reportedly began as a novel, before being revised into her extraordinary poetic portrayal of urban black life. Brooks also publised two volumes of autobiography—Report from Part One (1972) and Report from Part Two (1996).

BROWN, ALICE (5 Dec 1856 – 21 Jun 1948)
(aka Martin Redfield)
1880s – 1930s
Playwright, poet, and author of more than 40 volumes of fiction, much of it set in rural or small town New England. She was particularly acclaimed for her short stories, of which she published nine collections including Meadow-grass: Tales of New England Life (1895), Tiverton Tales (1899), The County Road (1906), The One-Footed Fairy and Other Stories (1911), and Vanishing Points (1913). Other titles include Stratford-by-the-Sea (1884), Mercy Warren (1896), The Mannerings (1903), The Story of Thyrza (1909), John Winterbourne's Family (1910), My Love and I (1912, under her pseudonym), The Prisoner (1916), The Black Drop (1919), Old Crow (1922), The Mysteries of Ann (1925), The Diary of a Dryad (1932), and The Willoughbys (1935).

BROWN, KAREN (dates unknown)
1920s - 1930
Untraced author of two novels—Shanghai Lady (1929), a novelization of a film of the same name, and The Girl from Woolworth's (1930), which apparently became one of the first movie musicals.

BROWN, ROSE (6 Jan c1883 – 8 Apr 1952)
(née Johnston, aka Mrs. Rose Brown)
1940s – 1950s
Wife of avant-garde author, journalist and publisher Robert Carlton Brown and author of at least four children's books inspired by their time living in Brazil—Amazon Adventures of Two Children (1942), Two Children and Their Jungle Zoo (1948), Two Children of Brazil (1949), and Three on a Raft (1951). She also co-wrote, with her husband, Amazing Amazon (1943), about their trip up the Amazon River. She consistently gave January 6 as her birthdate, but she clearly adjusted her age downward on more than one occasion, so the birth year may be even earlier than 1883.

BROWN, ZENITH JONES (8 Dec 1898 – 1 Sept 1983)
(née Jones, aka Brenda Conrad, aka Leslie Ford, aka David Frome)
1920s - 1960s
Author of more than 60 mystery novels, most under her Ford and Frome pseudonyms. She began writing while living with her husband in England, and for the most part her David Frome titles are set in the U.K., while her Leslie Ford titles are mainly set in the U.S., particularly in the Washington DC area, or in Maryland where Brown lived for many years. Many of the Frome titles, beginning with The Hammersmith Murders (1930), feature series characters Mr Pinkerton and his friend, Inspector Bull of Scotland Yard. Other titles in the series include Two Against Scotland Yard (1931), The Eel Pie Murders (1933, aka Eel Pie Mystery), Mr Pinkerton Grows a Beard (1935, aka The Body in Bedford Square), Mr Pinkerton at the Old Angel (1939), and Homicide House (1950). Many of her Ford titles feature series characters Colonel Primrose and Sergeant Buck, as well as widow Grace Latham. That series includes The Strangled Witness (1934), Ill Met By Moonlight (1937), Old Lover's Ghost (1940), The Murder of a Fifth Columnist (1941, aka A Capital Crime), All for the Love of a Lady (1944, aka Crack of Dawn), The Philadelphia Murder Story (1945), The Woman In Black (1947), and Washington Whispers Murder (1953, aka The Lying Jade). As Brenda Conrad, Brown published a handful of romantic novels during WWII. Some of Brown's mysteries have been reprinted and/or released as e-books in recent years, though the Frome e-books available in the U.S. have an "editor" and contain notes to the effect that they have been "adapted to the American reader". Some concerns have been expressed in recent years about Brown's portrayals of African-American characters; perhaps these edits are an attempt to adapt or censor such content? [Special thanks to Linda Lyons for sharing her wealth of knowledge and research about Brown.]

BRUSH, KATHARINE (KAY) [LOUISE] (15 Aug 1900 – 10 Jun 1952)
(née Ingham, later married name Winans)
1920s – 1940s
Author of nearly a dozen volumes of fiction, many of which were bestsellers in their day. She is probably best known for Young Man of Manhattan (1930), about the "flappers and cads" of New York, which formed the basis for an early sound film featuring Ginger Rogers and Claudette Colbert, and for Red-Headed Woman (1931), about a homewrecking vamp, which became a career-defining role for Jean Harlow. Some of her novels were serialized in major magazines, and she also published a lot of short fiction, including "Him and Her," which won the 1929 O. Henry Award. Other novels include Glitter (1926), Little Sins (1927), Don't Ever Leave Me (1935), Free Woman (1936), You Go Your Way (1941, reprinted as When She Was Bad), and The Boy From Maine (1942, reprinted as Bad Girl from Maine). Collections of short fiction include Night Club (1929, possibly published in the U.K. as Difficult Women?), Other Women (1933), and This Man and This Woman: 4 Short Novels (1944). This Is on Me (1940) was a well-received memoir which also included several short stories, and Out of My Mind (1943) was a collection of articles from her humorous syndicated newspaper column. Brush died of cancer at a very early age. Some sources incorrectly give her birth year as 1902.

BRYNER, EDNA [CLARE] (1 Sept 1886 – 28 Jan 1967)
(married name Schwab)
Scholar of Tibetan Buddhism and author of two novels. Andy Brandt's Ark (1927) is about a young woman who, having escaped an unhappy childhood, returns home to aid her sister. While the Bridegroom Tarried (1929) is a portrait of a man whose constant uncertainty and hesitations haunt his life. She appears to have written no further fiction, but following years of study of Tibetan Buddhism she published Thirteen Tibetan Tankas (1956), described by her Vassar archives entry as "an important contribution to the study of the rebirth doctrine in Buddhism."

BUCK, PEARL [COMFORT] S[YDENSTRICKER]. (26 Jun 1892 – 6 Mar 1972)
(née Sydenstricker, later married name Walsh, aka John Sedges)
1930s – 1970s
Best known for her 1931 novel The Good Earth (1931), for which we received the Pulitzer Prize, Buck wrote more than 40 volumes of fiction in all. She was born in the U.S., but grew up in China, where her missionary parents spent their lives, and reportedly learned to speak Chinese before she learned English. Her knowledge of China and her love for the Chinese informed much of her fiction, with The Good Earth, the first book of a trilogy about Chinese peasant farmers in the late 19th and early 20th century, becoming a major bestseller, with a well-received film version following in 1937. Sons (1933) and A House Divided (1935) rounded out the trilogy. Buck received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1938. Other novels include East Wind: West Wind (1930), This Proud Heart (1938), China Sky (1941), Portrait of a Marriage (1945), Pavilion of Women (1946), The Big Wave (1948), Imperial Woman (1956), The Living Reed (1963), The Time Is Noon (1966), and The Goddess Abides (1972). Under her pseudonym, Buck published historical fiction set in the U.S., including The Townsman (1945), The Angry Wife (1947), The Long Love (1949), and Voices in the House (1953). She published two volumes of memoirs, My Several Worlds: A Personal Record (1954) and A Bridge For Passing (1962). Among other humanitarian efforts, Buck co-founded the first international adoption agency to work with Asian orphans. Her literary work has been praised for its sensitivity by Asian and Asian-American authors including Anchee Min, whose novel Pearl of China (2010) is about Buck.

BUFF, MARY [ELEANOR] (10 Apr 1890 – 30 Nov 1970)
(née Marsh)
1930s – 1960s
Author of more than a dozen children's titles, most illustrated by her husband Conrad Buff. Some of these are for younger children, but several appear to be for older readers. Titles include Dancing Cloud, the Navajo Boy (1937), Kobi, a Boy of Switzerland (1939), Peter's Pinto (1949), The Apple and the Arrow (1951), Hah-Nee of the Cliff Dwellers (1956), Forest Folk (1962), and Kemi, an Indian Boy before the White Man Came (1966).

BURR, ANNA ROBESON (26 May 1873 – 10 Sept 1941)
(née Brown)
1890s – 1930s
Author of more than two dozen volumes of fiction, non-fiction, and biography. The Jessop Bequest (1907) and The Great House in the Park (1924) both deal with drama and intrigue surrounding inheritance. Palludia (1928) is about the search for an enigmatic artist whose works are suddenly in demand. Other fiction includes Alain of Halfdene (1895), Sir Mark: A Tale of the First Capital (1896), A Cosmopolitan Comedy (1899), The Wine-Press (1905), The House on Smith Square (1923), West of the Moon (1926), Wind in the East (1933), and The Bottom of the Matter (1935). She also published non-fiction including The Autobiography: A Critical and Comparative Study (1909), described as the first critical analysis of memoir as a genre, and Religious Confessions and Confessants: With a Chapter on the History of Introspection (1914). She edited Alice James: Her Brothers, Her Journal (1934)

BURT, KATHARINE NEWLIN (6 Sept 1882 – Jun 1977)
(née Newlin)
1910s – 1960s
Author of more than two dozen novels, many apparently with Western settings and themes. Titles include Penelope Intrudes (1912), The Red Lady (1920), Quest (1925), A Man's Own Country (1931), This Woman and This Man (1934), When Beggars Choose (1937), Fatal Gift (1941), Close Pursuit (1947), and Escape from Paradise (1952). After her final adult novel, Burt published three children's books—Smarty (1965), The Girl on a Broomstick (1967), and One Silver Spur (1968). Lady in the Tower (1946) appears to be a mystery, based on a paperback reprint, but its unclear if she wrote other mysteries as well.

BYRD, ELIZABETH (8 Dec 1912 – 11 May 1989)
(married name Phares)
1950s – 1980s
Author of nearly a dozen novels, most of them historical in subject. Her most famous work was her debut, Immortal Queen (1956), about Mary, Queen of Scots. I'll Get By (1975) is subtitled "An Autobiographical Novel" and is set in 1928 in New York City, where a teenage girl deals with first love. It Had To Be You (1982) is set in New York in 1931 and perhaps also makes use of real life details. Other historical novels include The Famished Land: A Novel of the Irish Potato Famine (1972), The Long Echantment: A Novel of Queen Victoria and John Brown (1973), The Lady of Monkton (1975), and Maid of Honour: A Novel Set in the Court of Mary Queen of Scots (1978). Byrd was also a "psychic researcher" and describes some of her experiences with the supernatural in her memoirs The Ghosts in My Life (1968) and A Strange and Seeing Time (1971).

BYRNE, MARIE (4 Oct 1886 – 18 Jan 1961)
(pseudonym of Mary Freeman Byrne)
Author of a single novel, Softly, Softly (1958), which appears to deal with French novelist George Sand. She also published periodical fiction. She spent most of her adult life in England, after marrying an English doctor.

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