Tag Archives: Isabella Alden

The Spirit of Steel and a GLH Quiz

4 Sep

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.

Hint #1

Carol, the heroine of the story, works as a secretary in a construction firm.

Hint #2

When her boss falls ill on the eve of an important business trip to a construction site, Carol takes his place.

Hint #3

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.

Hint #4

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”?

Answer:

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!

If you haven’t read Duskin yet, you can read it for free on your computer or Kindle reader. Just click here to begin reading!

Visit Chautauqua in 1890

19 Aug

In the summer of 1890 Isabella Alden and her family were once again at her beloved Chautauqua Institution.

That year, attendance at Chautauqua was remarkable. The Evening Journal—a newspaper in nearby Jamestown, New York—reported on the size of the crowd in an article printed August 20, 1890:

Another Sunday at Chautauqua has come and gone, and yet the big crowd and its interest in everything continues.

A crowd gathered in an open area of Chautauqua, about 1915.

There was plenty to be interested in. Chautauqua’s daily schedule included Bible lectures, practical daily living classes, entertainment, nature hikes, and plenty of opportunities for exercise.

An added attraction: that weekend Mr. Leland Powers, known as the “Dramatic wonder of America” presented a three-act comedy based on a story by Frances Hodgson-Burnett, in which he played all the parts!

A publicity photo of Mr. Leland Powers

 

The newspaper explained one major reason for the crowd size that weekend: more people were making longer stays at Chautauqua:

The outgoing stream has been large during the past week, and yet not enough to keep pace with the one pouring in. The outlet does not equal the inlet, and so the crowd grows larger. It will probably reach its culmination on Recognition Day, which will be Wednesday of this week.

“Recognition Day” is Chautauqua’s version of graduation for members of the Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle. In 1890, all the C.L.S.C. members who successfully completed their four-year study course gathered at Chautauqua. Together they made a stately procession through the symbolic Golden Gate that stood near the Hall of Philosophy, and then they received their Chautauqua diplomas.

The Golden Gate at Chautauqua Institution

The same newspaper article reported:

Enthusiastic C.L.S.C’ers are coming in daily by droves, by swarms, by multitudes. Meetings of the various classes are held almost every day, and excitement is fast reaching its height. It seems scarcely possible that in another week the Chautauqua season of 1890 will be closed and the exodus will be begun.

A Chautauqua Recognition Day class procession in 1895. Each class carried their own distinctive banner.

Also on that Sunday morning, Isabella’s husband, the Reverend G. R. Alden, led a memorial service in honor of prominent Chautauquans who died during the preceding year.

Reverend Gustavus Rossenberg Alden

What a very busy weekend at Chautauqua! That Sunday evening brought rain, which reduced the crowd size at the remaining events. After so much activity, the newspaper report describes for us a peaceful Sunday night:

A ramble about the grounds just after the sermon, even if it did rain, well repaid the discomfort. Every cottage, every tent, every room in every cottage and tent, gleaming with lights through the dismal mist, presented a scene unprecedented and well worth seeing. The chimes rung out another Sunday at Chautauqua.

You can read the full article that contains many more descriptions of that busy Chautauqua weekend in 1890. Just click here; you’ll find the article in columns four and five.

A New Free Read: Dr. Deane’s Way

17 Sep

This week’s free read is “Dr. Deane’s Way,” a short story written by “Faye Huntington.” That’s the pen name adopted by Isabella’s dear friend Theodosia Toll Foster.

Isabella first met Theodosia when they were teens at Oneida Seminary in New York. It was Theodosia who launched Isabella’s writing career by secretly submitting one of Isabella’s stories to a writing contest. Isabella didn’t discover what Theodosia had done until she received a letter informing her that her story won first prize in the contest!

In return, Isabella sparked Theodosia’s career as an author. In 1872, Theodosia was 34 years old and pregnant with her second child when her husband James died unexpectedly. With a farm to run, and a toddler and newborn baby to support, Theodosia needed a reliable income. Isabella asked her to collaborate on one of her books, and Theodosia’s career as an author was born.

Isabella and Theodosia wrote more than half a dozen books together, including From Different Standpoints.

Theodosia also wrote Echoing and Re-echoing, book five in Isabella’s Ester Ried series.

Theodosia’s story “Dr. Deane’s Way” was written in 1875. Here’s the description:

When it comes to managing his family, Dr. Deane firmly believes his way is best. He methodically doles out chores to his children and rules the kitchen by ensuring his wife cooks only the blandest food for their diets. And when two of his children accept Christ as their Saviour, Dr. Deane believes he has the right to interfere with that, too.

But when Dr. Deane’s daughter Lois rebels against his rigid rules, Dr. Deane must seek help from an unexpected source if he is to cure Lois of her hoydenish ways.

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:

You can read more about Isabella’s friendship with Theodosia in these previous posts:

BFFs at Oneida Seminary

Locust Shade and a New Free Read

Free Read: The Book that Started it All

Docia’s First Book

A Real Judge Burnham’s Daughter

It’s Our Blogiversary!

29 Aug

It’s hard to believe, but we’ve been blogging about Isabella Alden and her books for five years!

And to thank you for your support and encouragement, we thought we’d throw a party . . . a party that lasts the entire month of September!

Please join us every weekday in September for fun and games, weekly Amazon gift card drawings, and plenty of Free Reads!

See you there!

Jenny, Nancy, and Susan

 

Isabella’s Critic, Friend, and Helper

28 Jul

Isabella had a special bond with her father, Isaac Macdonald. She might even have been what we would call in today’s world a “daddy’s girl.” But the truth was that her father was undoubtedly the single most influential person in her life when she was growing up.

In his younger years Isaac Macdonald earned his living as a farmer, but with a wife and six children to support, he left farming and established a box-making business in Gloversville, New York.

Many years later, after Isabella became a best-selling author, a Gloversville newspaper wrote a brief article about her early years in that town. The writer of the article briefly mentioned her father:

Isaac was a box maker, and if his boxes are any index to his character, he was staunch and worthy. He lies in our pleasant cemetery, but there are boxes still in use made by his faithful hands.

It’s a brief paragraph, but with its use of the words character, worthy, and faithful, we get a glimpse of Isaac Macdonald’s reputation among his neighbors and friends.

In the many stories and anecdotes Isabella shared about her father, she paints a picture of a loving man of immense faith.

In his home circle, he ably fulfilled his role as provider, protector, leader and teacher. He was eternally patient with his children and grandchildren; and he instilled in them an unbreakable faith in God and His Word.

Most of all, Isaac valued honesty, a fact Isabella illustrated in a story that took place when she was an adult and her young niece Minie was staying at the family home.

Isabella’s sister Julia teasingly told little Minie that she was going to serve butterflies and caterpillars for tea, which greatly shocked and upset the little girl. Julia, however, thought Minie’s reaction was funny; she told the story to the family later that day “with many descriptions of Minie’s shocked tones and looks, and much laughter.”

Only Isaac looked grave. When the laughter was over he said to Julia:

“How many years do you suppose it will be before Minie will discover that you haven’t told her the truth?”

“The truth!” said Julia, in surprise. “Why, of course it wasn’t truth. It was only in fun, you know. Whoever supposed that the absurd little monkey would believe it?” and she laughed again at the thought.

“But, you see, she did believe it,” Isaac said. “She believed it because you told it to her. She has great faith in your word, you see. I would be very careful not to give that faith a shock if I were you.”

“Why, dear me!” Julia said, with puzzled face; “I never thought about its being anything serious. Don’t you think it is right to say anything in fun to a child?”

“I don’t think it is right to say anything but the truth to anyone,” Isaac said, emphatically; “least of all to a child.”

Isabella never forgot the lesson.

Isaac’s teachings with Isabella extended beyond those that would shape her character. In an interview with The Ladies Home Journal, Isabella said that it was her father who taught her to write at an early age.

He was the first to encourage her to keep a diary; and he also taught her to take notes during their minister’s sermons on Sunday morning. Together they would review her notes, and he encouraged her to use her own imagination to expand on them and weave stories from the lessons and bits of wisdom she had recorded.

That early discipline soon bore fruit. When she was about seven or eight years old Isabella wrote a story about the family clock (read more about her story here).

Her story was published in the local newspaper (coincidentally, the newspaper was owned by her sister Mary’s husband and little Minie’s father). Isaac insisted that the story be published under a pseudonym, saying:

“We don’t wish anyone to know that you wrote it, and so we will sign it, Pansy, for pansy means tender and pleasant thoughts, and you have given me some thoughts that are tender and pleasant.”

This incident, too, offers a glimpse into Isaac Macdonald’s character, and his desire to protect his daughter from public scrutiny and the hazards of fame.

Thereafter, Isabella was often writing or telling a story. Her books Four Girls at Chautauqua and Ester Ried made “Pansy” a household name around the world. It was while she was writing Ester Ried that her father became ill.

Isabella mentioned that when she was young, she always hoped she would never have to tend to anyone who was sick; she thought it would be “so dreadful to look at anybody knowing that he was soon to die.”

But she found it made a difference who the sick person was, and how he felt about death himself. Her father, she knew, wasn’t afraid of dying. He used to say to her:

“It is nice to have my children all about me, and it seems sad sometimes that I must go and leave them—sad for them, I mean. But what a blessed thing it will be when we all get up there where none of us will have to go away any more. It will be vacation there all the time, won’t it?”

When her father fell ill in the summer of 1870, Isabella spent as much time with him as she could, and often read to him from his Bible. She described it as a large-print Bible, all full of leaves turned down and verses marked.

She said there was no need to ask which verse was his favorite; he had left “marks of his love” all through the book.

One afternoon when Isabella was with him, she read verses here and there as her eye caught his different markings:

“And they shall see his face, and his name shall be in their foreheads.

“And there shall be no night there.”

“And the ransomed of the Lord shall return and come to Zion with Songs, and everlasting joy shall be upon their heads.”

And there was this verse:

“Fear not, for I have redeemed thee. I have called thee by thy name, thou art mine.”

She knew that verse was among the dearest to her father in the entire Bible. (Read the story behind the verse here.)

During that summer of Isaac Macdonald’s illness, Isabella was writing Ester Ried.

An early cover for Ester Ried

Her father, as always, was interested in her writing progress; but he showed particular interest in the story of Ester Ried. He told Isabella that “he prayed that it might be a blessing to some young life.” Sadly, he passed away on July 26, 1870, before Isabella finished writing the novel.

Isabella later wrote:

“It was while the tears were gathering thick in my eyes as I looked out upon his grave that I wrote the last chapter of the book, feeling that my closest, strongest friend and critic, and wisest helper had gone from me.”

Isaac Macdonald’s grave marker.

Isaac Macdonald’s prayer for Ester Ried was answered over and over again. Ester Ried was a great success and proved to be a blessing to generations of girls and young women who read it.

Isabella’s love for her father was evidenced in the books she wrote. She used him as the model for many of her male characters who were wise in judgment and strong in faith.

You’ll catch glimpses of him in Dr. Deane in Wanted and in Dr. Everett in Workers Together; an Endless Chain.

You can read more about the special bond between Isabella and her father Isaac Macdonald in these posts:

Isabella’s Early Writings

A Teachable Moment

Julia’s Occupation

A Woman’s Voice

A New Brother

New Free Read by Grace Livingston Hill

17 Jul

Isabella Alden was very close to her sister Marcia Livingston. Like Isabella, Marcia was a writer and they often co-wrote stories together.

Isabella Alden and her sister, Marcia Livingston in an undated photo

Isabella Alden (left) and her sister, Marcia Livingston (right) in an undated photo

After the sisters married, the Alden and the Livingston families remained close. They spent much of their time together, and Marcia’s daughter Grace grew up in the creative atmosphere of writers and books.

Grace learned her ABCs on her “Aunt Belle’s” typewriter. At the age of ten she wrote a story of her own called, “The Esselsltynes; or, Marguerite and Alphonse,” which the family published for her as a surprise. That gift, along with the encouragement and work example set by her family, inspired Grace to continue writing.

She followed the adage of “write what you know.” When Grace became involved in the Young People’s Society of Christian Endeavor, she wrote stories about that experience; many of those stories were published in Christian Endeavor World magazine.

Grace Livingston Hill-Lutz, about 1912

Grace Livingston Hill-Lutz, about 1912

The Epworth Herald also published Grace’s stories that illustrated simple truths about the Christian life. One such story was “Hazel Cunningham’s Denial,” which described a young woman’s dilemma while vacationing at a summer resort

“Hazel Cunningham’s Denial” first appeared in The Epworth Herald on August 9, 1902, and it’s available for you to read for free.

Click on the cover below to begin reading “Hazel Cunningham’s Denial” by Grace Livingston Hill.

Cover_Hazel Cunninghams Denial by GLH scaled

Early Writings

21 Nov

Grandfather Clock 01 EditedIsabella kept a daily diary from the time she was seven years old. In it she faithfully recorded the day’s events, so she developed her writing skills at an early age.

Her first published story appeared in the newspaper when she was still a child. Her tale concerned the family’s “grand old clock.” Isabella had grown up hearing the steady tick-tock of the clock; but it suddenly stopped one morning without warning. Since the clock was a family heirloom and one hundred years old at the time, her parents took the problem in stride.

But Isabella’s imagination wove a tale around the powers of the old clock. The day was cloudy and she attributed it to the fact that the sun didn’t know when to rise, simply because the old clock had stopped keeping time. She continued the story with dire predictions that the earth would be plunged into darkness and other terrible things would happen.

She ended the tale with her father pulling out his faithful pocket watch—still ticking—thus saving the world!Pocket Watch Edited

Isabella’s older sister, Mary, was married to the editor of the local newspaper. He suggested that the story appear in the next issue of the paper. Isabella’s father agreed, provided the story was published anonymously to protect Isabella’s privacy.

Thus, Isabella Alden’s first published story appeared in the newspaper with the title and byline:

Our Old Clock
by
Pansy

Many years later, Isabella proudly recounted the story as her very first appearance in public.

A Teachable Moment

16 Oct

Mrs Beeton_Range Detail

Isabella Alden told a story about her childhood that shows not only the love within her home, but the skill of her father in capturing everyday moments to teach Isabella character-forming lessons.

“I recall a certain rainy day, when I hovered aimlessly from sitting-room to kitchen, alternately watching my father at his writing, and my mother at her cake-making. She was baking, I remember, a certain sort known among us as ‘patty-cakes,’ with scalloped eMrs. Beeton_Victorian Kitchen editeddges, and raisins peeping out all over their puffy sides. I put in an earnest plea for one of the ‘patties’ as it came from the oven, and was refused. Disconsolately I wandered back to father’s side. He was busy with his annual accounts.

“Our home was in a manufacturing town, where the system of exchange, known as ‘due-bills,’ was in vogue. Something caught my eye which suggested the term to me, and I asked an explanation.

“Father gave it briefly. Then I wanted to know whether people always earned the amount mentioned in the due-bill, and my father replied that of course one had the right to issue a due-bill to a man who had earned nothing, if for any reason he desire to favor him, and that then the sum would become that man’s due, because of the name signed.

“I remember the doleful tone in which I said, ‘I wish I had a due-bill.’ My father laughed, tore a bit of paper from his note-book, and printed on it in letters which his six-year-old daughter could read, the words:

Dear Mother:
Please give our little girl a patty-cake for my sake.
Father.

“I carried my due-bill in some doubt to my mother, for she was not given to changing her mind, but I can seem to see the smile on her face as she read the note, and feel again the pressure of the plump warm cake which was promptly placed in my hand.Mrs Beeton_Rolls and Cakes edited square

“The incident took on special significance from the fact that I gave it another application, as children are so apt to do. As I knelt that evening, repeating my usual prayer: ‘Now I lay me down to sleep,’ and closed it with the familiar words: ‘And this I ask for Jesus’ sake,’ there flashed over my mind the conviction that this petition was like the ‘due-bill’ which my father had made me—to be claimed because of the mighty name signed. I do not know that any teaching of my life gave me a stronger sense of assurance in prayer than this apparently trivial incident.”

—Excerpt from Successful Women by Sarah K. Bolton

Follow this link to a 19th Century recipe for raisin cakes.

Writer Jenny Berlin

Faith, romance, and a place to belong

The Hall in the Grove

Author of Classic Christian Fiction

Isabella Alden

Author of Classic Christian Fiction

Britt Reads Fiction

Reviews and giveaways for Christian fiction and sweet, clean fiction. Bringing readers information on great stories and connecting authors with their readers.

%d bloggers like this: