When she first started out in her writing career Grace Livingston (as she was then known) wrote short stories for several different Christian newspapers and magazines.
In 1891 her story “How One Fanatic was Made” was published in one of those newspapers, and it included two charming wood-cut-style illustrations, one of which you can see here:
It also included one of Grace’s timeless lessons on what it means to live a Christian life:
A devout Christian, Miss Delia Stebbins attends church regularly and reads her Bible every day. She is righteous and strong in her faith, or so she thinks. But when a less-than-desirable family moves in next door Miss Stebbins realizes God’s words are actually God’s instructions for daily life. Is it possible she can make up for the years she’s wasted?
Like her aunt Isabella Alden, Grace Livingston Hill often shared her novels with the public by publishing them in magazines prior to finalizing them in book form.
In 1929 one of her stories appeared as a serial in Good Stories magazine under the title “The Spirit of Steel.” You can see it listed on the magazine’s cover below:
One of the great advantages of having her stories published in magazines first, is that the magazines often employed artists to illustrate scenes from the story. Here’s one of the illustrations from Grace’s story “The Spirit of Steel,” depicting the two main characters meeting for lunch:
But when Grace published the story as a book, she changed the name of the story from “The Spirit of Steel” to something else.
Using the hints below, see if you can guess the name Grace gave the story when it was published as a hardback book in 1929.
Carol, the heroine of the story, works as a secretary in a construction firm.
When her boss falls ill on the eve of an important business trip to a construction site, Carol takes his place.
The story takes a suspenseful turn when Carol realizes she’s being followed by two men as she travels by train to the construction site.
Upon arriving at the construction site, Carol decides that her first order of business is to fire the handsome and attractive job foreman. There’s just one problem: he refuses to be fired!
Can you guess the name of the beloved Grace Livingston Hill novel that was originally called “The Spirit of Steel”?
Grace renamed the book Duskin when it was published as a hardback book in 1929.
If you guessed the right novel from these few hints, congratulations! You’re a GLH expert!
Isabella’s niece Grace Livingston Hill kicked off 1919 on a high note.
That was the year Grace’s novel The Search was published as a serial in a popular Christian magazine. The first chapter appeared in the January 1, 1919 issue.
Here’s the announcement the magazine ran the month before to notify readers about the upcoming serial (click on the image to see a larger version).
Although it’s fun to discover Grace’s stories in early newspapers and magazines, it’s even better when they’re accompanied by illustrations by the leading artists of the day.
Artist William Charles McNulty (whose pieces are included in collections at The Metropolitan Museum of Art) illustrated three scenes from The Search for the magazine.
McNulty’s illustrations add a rich sense of time and place to the story, from the old-fashioned automobile Ruth drove, to the characters’ clothing, and the quiet place John found (in chapter 4) to read Ruth’s letter.
Later that same year, The Search was published in book form by Lippincott, and was well received by Grace’s fans; but the magazine version remains special, because of its illustrations.
If you haven’t read The Search, you’re in luck! You can read the e-book for free on your tablet, phone, Kindle or computer!
Amazon.com offers the e-book book at no charge. Just click on the banner below to begin reading:
Isabella Alden was particularly close to her niece, Grace Livingston Hill. Grace was a writer, too, and her books were incredibly popular and are still widely read today.
But Grace wasn’t merely a best-selling authoress; Grace was also a teacher. She was dedicated to teaching Sunday-school classes at her church, and when her daughters Margaret and Ruth were old enough to attend school, Grace decided to teach them at home, just as her parents had taught her.
Grace’s desire to teach wasn’t limited to her family. For years Grace ran a Bible class for children at a nearby Presbyterian church. She was the guiding spirit in establishing a mission Sunday School for immigrant families, and she personally paid to send innumerable young people to Pinebrook School, a well-known Christian Bible conference in the Poconos.
Education was something Grace was passionate about, and when she passed away in 1947 her daughter Ruth Hill Munce took steps to honor Grace’s teaching ministry. Ruth purchased a 30-acre site in St. Petersburg, Florida and built a school, which she named after their mother.
Grace Livingston Hill Memorial School had just four classrooms and 75 students when it officially opened in 1953, but the Christian day school grew with each passing year. Ruth served as the school principal for 15 years. Under her direction, she ensured that Christian education was at the core of every class, saying, “God would be the sum of the equation, the Bible a textbook.”
In 1962 the school changed its name to Keswick Christian School, and it’s still operating today under that name. But it had its roots as a tribute to Grace Livingston Hill, who loved God and used her talents for writing and teaching in order to serve Him.
You can read some of Grace’s short stories for free on this site. Just click on one of the images below to begin reading.
Much has been written about Isabella’s first book, Helen Lester, and how it came to be published.
Less has been written about her last novel, An Interrupted Night. Here’s an interesting fact about the book: in the same way her first novel Helen Lester was published with the help of her best friend, Theodosia Toll Foster, Isabella’s last novel was published with the help of her beloved niece, Grace Livingston Hill.
Here’s how it happened. In 1924 Isabella was 82 years old. During that year she suffered great loss: her dear sister Marcia, her husband Ross, and her son Raymond all died within months of each other. Isabella’s writing took a back seat as she made her way through that difficult time.
Two years later, in 1926, Isabella was seriously injured in an automobile accident in Palo Alto, California, where she was residing. She lived with the pain of her injuries for years afterward.
Then, in 1929, due in part to those old automobile accident injuries, Isabella fell and broke several bones including her hip. From that point on, Isabella was confined to a wheelchair and in constant pain.
Still, despite everything she had been through, at the age of eighty-seven she had one more story to tell.
Between intervals of constant pain and visits from friends and well-wishers, Isabella began writing her last novel. But even with her best efforts, she struggled to complete the story because, as she said, her body . . .
. . . was unfit for the work that needed to be accomplished.
Finally, determined to get her promised manuscript into the hands of the publisher, Isabella called upon her niece Grace Livingston Hill for help.
By that time, Grace was a successful novelist in her own right. Still, Grace said of her aunt’s request:
I approach the work with a kind of awe upon me that I should be working on her story! If, long ago in my childhood, it had been told to me that I should ever be counted worthy to do this, I would not have believed it. Before her I shall always feel like the little worshipful child I used to be.
But Grace took up the task, and helped her Aunt Isabella — by then confined to her bed — finish the book.
The novel was titled An Interrupted Night. Isabella said the story was based on actual facts, told to her by one of the people characterized in the story as “Mrs. Dunlap.”
The novel was published by J. B. Lippincott Company in 1929 and received very favorable reviews.
One particular review, found in the Fort Lauderdale News on July 12, 1929, begins with this this sentence:
Old readers must have gaped with surprise and thought that their glasses were at fault when they read that a new book by Pansy, Mrs. G. R Alden, will be published soon by Lippincott’s. Shades of sainted grandmothers and all the dear old ladies of the Presbyterian fold, who reveled and doted upon Pansy when they were little girls!
That’s quite a beginning to a book review, isn’t it? Although the review begins with a rather sarcastic tone, it ends on a more respectful note. You can read the entire review by clicking here or on the image below.
Because it’s still protected by copyright, we can’t make An Interrupted Night available to you, but copies of the book do surface in libraries and book stores on a fairly regular basis.
If you find a copy of An Interrupted Night, you’ll be treated to a marvelous story about Mrs. Dunlap and her efforts to convince a young woman to abandon her plans to elope with a man who seems, on the surface, to be her ideal mate.
It’s a Pansy story in the truest sense, with a wonderfully sweet ending, engaging dialog throughout, and important life lessons for her characters —and readers! — to learn along the way.
This is the last post in our Blogiversary Celebration! Leave a comment below or on Isabella’s Facebook page to be entered in a drawing for a $25 Amazon gift card! We’ll announce the winner tomorrow.
Isabella Macdonald Alden was born the youngest child in a loving, and very tight-knit family.
She and her sisters were especially close, even though there was a vast difference in their ages.
For example, Isabella celebrated her first birthday the same year her eldest sister, Elizabeth, married and moved into a home of her own. But since Elizabeth’s new house was only a few steps from the Macdonald’s front door, Isabella and Elizabeth shared a close relationship.
The same was true of Mary, who was 14 years older than Isabella. When Mary wed and set up housekeeping, her home was built on property that abutted the Macdonald’s back garden. As a result, Isabella spent a lot of time with Mary and they, too, had a special bond.
It’s no wonder, then, that when Isabella married and began keeping a house of her own, she made certain the door was always open to family members. She wanted her sisters to feel the same welcoming spirit in her house as she had always felt in theirs.
When her son Raymond was young, Isabella and her husband Ross began taking him to Florida, hoping the southern climate would benefit Raymond’s health. To their relief, Raymond’s health did improve, so the Aldens decided to make Florida their winter home.
They bought a plot of land in the new town of Winter Park, and began building a house that would be big enough to accommodate plenty of family members.
They built on an oversized lot on the corner of Lyman and Interlachen avenues, right across the street from All Saints Episcopal Church.
The house was completed in 1888. Ross dubbed it “Pansy Cottage,” a name that stuck and was soon known all over town. This photo shows the size of the “cottage”:
The inviting home was three stories tall, with large yards in front and back, and a wrap-around porch that invited family, friends and neighbors to sit down and enjoy a cozy chat. It was the perfect place for the family to gather, far away from the cold New York winters.
In this photo you can see family members on the front steps and porch, in the yard, and even peeking out of the top-most windows. They look like they’re having fun!
Isabella and her family members spent many happy winters at the Pansy Cottage; and the Florida climate did improve Raymond’s health.
In 1906 Ross and Isabella began their preparations for retirement. They sold Pansy Cottage and moved to their new house in Palo Alto, California where, once again, everyone was welcome in Isabella’s new home.
In fact, she and Ross shared the California house with their son Raymond, and his wife and children, as well as Isabella’s sisters Julia and Mary.
After Ross and Isabella sold Pansy Cottage, it was passed along to different owners. Eventually, it was turned into a rooming house; and in 1955 Pansy Cottage was demolished. But thanks to photos like these, we can still peek into Isabella’s world and imagine a bit of her life with those she loved in turn-of-the-century Florida.
This post is part of our Blogiversary Celebration! Leave a comment below or on Isabella’s Facebook page to be entered in a drawing for a $25 Amazon gift card! We’ll announce the winner on Friday, September 28.
Yesterday you read a lovely letter Isabella wrote to the students of an elementary school, thanking them for planting a tree in her honor.
Isabella’s writings—her books, stories, letters, and lessons—are filled with quote-worthy lines. Here’s an example from her novel, Tip Lewis and His Lamp:
In the story, The Reverend Mr. Holbrook asked that question of young Tip Lewis to help him realize that his resentment toward another boy was jeopardizing his own standing with God.
It was Isabella’s way of illustrating the Bible verse: “If ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”
That was Isabella’s genius: she had a talent for explaining the Bible in terms anyone—young or old—could understand.
One of the greatest admirers of Isabella’s talent was her niece, Grace Livingston Hill. When Grace was twenty-three years old, she was the newly published author of her first book, A Chautauqua Idyll. And she was ready for her next project.
Grace turned her attention to her Aunt Isabella’s books. She combed through them, selected inspiring quotes, and organized them into a daily devotional, with each quote accompanied by an applicable verse from the Bible.
The result of Grace’s efforts was called Pansies for Thoughts, and it became her second published book.
Isabella wrote a brief Preface for the book, with a prayer that . . .
The Holy Spirit would use these pages in a way to lead some souls daily higher, and higher, even into the “shining light” of the “perfect day.”
Pansies for Thoughts is a wonderful daily devotional, and you can read the book for free! Click here to download the e-book version for your Kindle, Nook, or tablet. Or you can download a PDF version to print or read on your computer.
This post is part of our Blogiversary Celebration! Leave a comment below or on Isabella’s Facebook page to be entered in a drawing for a $25 Amazon gift card! We’ll announce the winner on Friday morning, September 21!
This short story by Isabella’s niece, Grace Livingston Hill, first appeared in a Christian magazine in 1917.
In “A Journey of Discovery” Louise Hasbrouck knows what everyone expects of her. She just received an offer of marriage from Halsey Carstairs, one of the city’s most eligible bachelors. Louise should feel honored and happy; instead she feels restless and anxious to talk to her old friend, Cecilia, who became a bride herself just two years before.
But when Louise arrives at Cecilia’s sweet little cottage in the country, and sees the life she leads away from the city’s whirling social scene, Louise begins to question the path society has plotted for her. Should Louise accept Halsey’s proposal, or will she find the strength to follow her heart?
You can read this story on your phone, ipad, Kindle, or other electronic device.
Or you can read it as a PDF document on your computer screen. You can also print the story to share with friends.
Click on the book cover to choose your preferred format from BookFunnel.com.
This post is part of our Blogiversary Celebration! Leave a comment below or on Isabella’s Facebook page to be entered in a drawing for a $25 Amazon gift card! We’ll announce the winner tomorrow!