Tag Archives: Pauline

Let’s Review

5 Sep

This post is part of our Blogiversary Celebration! Leave a comment below or on Isabella’s Facebook page to be entered in Friday’s drawing for a $25 Amazon gift card!

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Chances are, you’re reading this post because you love Isabella Alden’s books.

From the time her first book, Helen Lester, was published in 1865, Isabella enjoyed success as an author.

By the late 1880s readers were buying over one-hundred-thousand copies of her books every year:

From The Brooklyn (New York) Standard Union, October 22, 1890.

When Isabella wrote her novels, there were no Internet sites like Goodreads or online retailers like Amazon for readers to post their reviews of Isabella’s books.

Instead, Isabella’s books were reviewed by literary editors in newspapers across the country.

When her novel Making Fate came out in 1896, a Boston newspaper declared:

Readers of all classes, from the serious to the frivolous, can read this story with entertainment and rise from its perusal refreshed.

The New England Farmer (Boston), August 1, 1896.

In 1901, a San Francisco newspaper reviewed Isabella’s novel, Pauline, and declared Isabella to be “a gifted writer.”

From The San Francisco Call, September 22, 1901. Click on the image to read the entire review.

Unfortunately, not all reviewers were so generous with their praise. One literary critic in a Pittsburgh newspaper wrote that Isabella’s 1902 novel Unto the End “is really not half a bad story in its way.” The critic goes on to classify Isabella’s readers among “those who ask from their literature nothing but that it shall not require them to think.” (You can read the entire review by clicking here.)

But reviews like “Pittsburgh’s” were few and far between. On the whole, Isabella’s novels were well received, and millions of Isabella’s faithful fans relied on those reviews to notify them when her new books were available for purchase.

Several times, in her stories and memoirs, Isabella mentioned keeping a scrapbook; it’s possible that’s where she kept clippings of her book reviews.

And if that’s true, she probably also kept reviews of the books written by her niece, Grace Livingston Hill.

Grace’s writing career took off in the 1900s. When her novel The Best Man was published in 1914, The Boston Globe’s literary critic praised the novel, saying it was “full of thrilling moments.”

You can click here to read the full review, which includes a very nice publicity photo of Grace.

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How about you? Have you ever written a book review and published it in print or online?

How much do you rely on other people’s book reviews when deciding what books to buy?

Kitty Cobb by James Montgomery Flagg

14 May

James Montgomery Flagg was an American artist whose illustrations and paintings appeared in newspapers, magazines, and books in the early 20th century. At the same time Isabella Alden wrote about women making their way in the world, James Montgomery Flagg told similar stories through his art.

Ad in New York Evening World Feb 24 1912

In 1912 James Montgomery Flagg published “The Adventures of Kitty Cobb,” a serial story told in pictures. For 25 weeks the serial ran in the Sunday edition of major newspapers across the U.S. Each individual illustration told a chapter of Kitty Cobb’s story, as she struggled to make a new life for herself in the big city.

Ad in New York Evening World April 17 1912

Kitty’s story began when she left her home town of Pleasant Valley for New York, where she hoped to find a job:

Kitty Cobb 01 ed 2Soon after arriving in New York, Kitty learned how vulnerable a woman alone can be as she looked for a job and a place to live.

Kitty Cobb 02 ed 2

Like Constance Curtiss in Isabella’s book Pauline, Kitty had to fend off the unwanted attentions ill-intentioned men:

Kitty Cobb 21 ed 2

Since laws at the time favored employers, a woman like Claire Benedict in Interrupted could be denied a job based simply on her looks or the employer’s prejudice. James Montgomery Flagg illustrated the same situation in Kitty Cobb:

Kitty Cobb 10 ed 2

“The Adventures of Kitty Cobb” proved so popular with readers, advertisers rushed to tie their products to Kitty’s story.

Ad 1 in Washington Herald Aug 11 1912     Ad 2 in Washington Herald Aug 11 1912

And two years later, Flagg repeated his Kitty Cobb success by publishing another serial story in pictures about pretty Dorothy Perkins.

You can view all 25 installments of “The Adventures of Kitty Cobb” on Isabella Alden’s Pinterest page.

Click here to read more about Isabella Alden’s books mentioned in this post.

Quotable

16 Apr

James Montgomery Flagg 1916 from Judge magazineThey had been created each for the other; and God—who watches over human lives—had kept them apart and sacred in their loneliness until the hour when they should recognize their oneness. He believed this and yielded to the joy of it, and was as absorbed and as far from wise as any man of his acquaintance had ever been in like circumstances.

—From Pauline

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Quotable

19 Mar

Woman_s World 1915-09God had not left her without witnesses to the worth of the life she was living. She had early found what some Christian workers have yet to learn—that the road to hearts lies oftentimes by way of the most commonplace of domestic duties.

She earned her living by sweeping and dusting and fruit-canning, and a dozen other homely back-door occupations; but she lived in order to show forth the strength and the beauty of a life “hid with Christ in God.”

—from Pauline

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This Woman’s Work

17 Mar

Many of the women in Isabella Alden’s books had to earn a living to support themselves or their families. That was the case with Maria Randolph in Household Puzzles, who took in laundry so she could buy medicine for her father and pay the family’s bills.

Women in Sewing Factory

And in Miss Dee Dunmore Bryant, Mrs. Bryant supported her children by sewing late into the night, when she wasn’t working long hours at the local canning factory.

Women working at the Endicott Johnson tanning factory

Women working at the Endicott Johnson tanning factory in New York

 

Earning a living wage wasn’t an easy thing for women to do in the years between 1880 and 1920. Competition for jobs was fierce, as more and more women entered the job market and took over low-paying, repetitive jobs that men once held—and they earned considerably less than men did for performing the same work.

Women working at the Anheuser Busch Bottling Company

Women performing manual labor at the Anheuser Busch Bottling Company

 

The majority of jobs open to women were manual factory work and service employment. Both were physically demanding. If a woman was lucky enough to find a position, she could count on working long hours in often poor conditions.

New York hat makers, 1907

New York hat makers, 1907

 

In factories there were few breaks in the long work day. Employers commonly boarded up windows to keep employees from being distracted; and they blocked doors to discourage workers from leaving their posts before the workday was done.

Seamstresses at Eaton's Department Store, Toronto

Seamstresses at Eaton’s Department Store, Toronto

 

Those were some of the conditions that lead to one of the worst work-place disasters in American history: the 1911 Triangle shirtwaist fire. A New York clothing manufacturer, The Triangle Waist Company, locked its workers inside their assigned work areas so they couldn’t leave. Most of the workers were young women and girls as young as fourteen.  When a fire broke out, their only means of evacuation was a dilapidated fire escape that collapsed under the weight of the first few workers who scrambled to safety.

Click on the image to view a pdf of the full page.

Click on the image to view a pdf of the full page.

 

The fire took a horrific toll: 147 people burned to death or died as a result of jumping or falling from the upper floors of the burning building.

Work in private service had its own set of challenges. Women worked long hours as house maids, cooks, and charwomen (women who clean other women’s houses).

Cooks in the kitchen of a private home.

Cooks in the kitchen of a private home.

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The work was physically demanding and they were often treated poorly. Isabella Alden gave an example of such treatment in her book, Pauline. In the story, Constance Curtiss had to fight off the unwanted advances of her employer’s eldest son because he thought a working woman wasn’t due the same level of courtesty as a lady who was his social equal:

Maid3She had always taken the position that no self-respecting young woman need fear being treated other than respectfully by men; that girls probably had themselves to thank for carelessness when any man attempted familiarity. Yet the only excuse that she had given Mr. Emerson was the fact that she had chosen to make herself useful, on occasion, in his mother’s kitchen, and accept payment in money. This, it seemed, not only shut her out from Mrs. Emerson’s parlor as a caller, which she had expected, but made the son feel privileged to call her “Ellen” and treat her with a familiarity that could have been justified only by long and intimate acquaintance. She felt that such a state of things was a disgrace to American civilization.

For a woman who was lucky enough—and had the financial means—to afford an education, she could go to school and be trained to work in a more skilled capacity as a teacher or nurse.

Newspaper ad for a New York nursing school

Newspaper ad for a New York nursing school

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Summer residents at Chautauqua Institution could take advantage of courses in stenography, teaching and library science—training that opened up new job opportunities for women. (Click here to read more about courses at Chautauqua Institution.)

Jobs_Teacher

But that kind of training cost money. Women who had to support themselves and their families often took whatever work they could get, leaving them at the mercy of their employers’ whims and wage structures.

As Constance Curtiss discovered in Pauline, she had to put up with long hours and some embarrassing mistreatment if she wanted to keep her job.

She meant to be brave and true, and to demonstrate that the religion of Jesus Christ was of sufficient strength to bear any weight; but in order to do this she need not accept the attentions and take pleasure in the scenes that other women of her age would naturally accept and enjoy. God did not ask this of her; she was thankful that she felt sure of it. How, then, was she to ward off such attention?

On her knees that night she gave herself solemnly to the work; and the sense of humiliation that Henry Emerson’s treatment of her had induced, passed. It had come to her that she might in this way have been permitted a glimpse of his true character for a purpose.

Constance’s prayers were answered. With patience and God’s help, she found a solution to the dilemma of her employer’s son, and in the process, she became God’s agent in saving a young soul.

Next week’s post: Lady Entrepreneurs in Isabella’s Books


 

Want to learn more about the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire? This brief video from CBS marked the 100 year anniversary of the tragedy:

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And this documentary video provides a more comprehensive look at the fire and its aftermath:

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Click on the book covers to read more about Isabella’s books mentioned in this post.

Cover_Pauline    Cover_Household Puzzles and The Randolphs    Cover_Miss Dee Dunmore Bryant

Chrissy’s Endeavor Pin

17 Feb

.  Logo Young Peoples Society of Christian Endeavor

When Chrissy Hollister arrived to spend the summer with her friend Grace, she was shown to a guest room that was decorated in blue and white and was “just as sweet and cool and charming as it can be.”

Presently her eyes rested on the blue satin pincushion, covered with white lace. Across it lay a ribbon—a badge of some sort. Chrissy laughed as she noticed that even the ribbon, which had evidently been dropped there by accident and forgotten, partook of the general character of the room, being of white satin, and bearing on its surface, painted in delicate tints of blue, five mystic letters: “Y. P. S. C. E.”

Victorian pin cushion smallChrissy studied them curiously, admiring the graceful curves of the rustic work, but wondering much what those letters could represent.

As Chrissy would later discover in a rather embarrassing way, those initials stood for Young People’s Society of Christian Endeavor. She would also discover just how important that distinctive pin was.

The design of the official Christian Endeavor emblem is attributed to Reverend Howard Benjamin Grose, a Baptist minister and editor of The Home Mission Monthly magazine. As a Christian Endeavor trustee, he felt strongly that the Society needed to adopt an official emblem, but the designs he’d seen were either too elaborate or expensive to produce. He wanted a simple design and felt, given the long name of the organization, the letters C and E should be made prominent.

Reverend H. B. Grose

Reverend H. B. Grose

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Reverend Grose began to doodle, putting the C and E together in different ways:

Pin sketches

He proposed sketch No. 9 to the trustees, and the monogram pin was unanimously adopted in 1887.

The C embraces the E. The Endeavor is all within the Christ.

Christian Endeavor_PinMany emblems are more showy, more glittering, more ornamental, perhaps; but I see none that satisfies me so well, or that awakens so many feelings of affection, gratitude, consecration, and hope,  as the strong, simple, speaking monogram in which the E that means Endeavor is made sublimely significant by the encompassing C that marks it all as Christian.

—Rev. Francis Bell, Founder, the Society of Christian Endeavor

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Once adopted, the Christian Endeavor emblem remained unchanged for generations. The distinctive design was enhanced only slightly for pins produced for the children’s society and Christian Endeavor organizations in other countries, such as this pin from Scotland:

Christian Endeavor_Pin Junior    Christian Endeavor_Pin Scotland

The ribbon badge Chrissy saw in the guest room at Grace’s house may have been a local Christian Endeavor badge. Many state and local societies adopted their own unique Christian Endeavor colors, which they wore as ribbons on their lapels. The ribbons were usually printed or embroidered with the state name, as well as the initials Y.P.S.C.E. and the words Christian Endeavor.

Ribbon badges were also created to commemorate Christian Endeavor annual conferences. Below is an example of the badge worn by attendees at the 1892 annual conference in New York:

Christian Endeavor Badge 1892 New York

And this badge is from the 1909 national convention in Minnesota:

Christian Endeavor Badge 1909 Convention

After Chrissy became a Christian and organized a Christian Endeavor Society in her own town, she learned the power of the little pin while riding the streetcar one day:

A plainly-dressed girl of about her own age, with a good earnest face, sat opposite her, watching her with an intentness that was only excusable because of the absorbed and almost tender light in the girl’s eyes, which lifted her act far above the commonplace stare. At last, seeming to have gathered courage for a resolve, she arose and took a vacant seat beside Chrissy.

“I beg your pardon,” she said in low, well-bred tones, “may I speak to you? I am a stranger, but I see that we are kindred.” Touching as she spoke, the tiny silver badge she wore, bearing the magic letters “C. E.,” and glancing significantly at the corresponding one of gold, which fastened Chrissy’s linen collar.

There was an instant clasping of hands, and an exchange of cordial smiles.

The plainly-dressed girl explained that a friend of hers had attended a Christian Endeavor meeting—the very Christian Endeavor Chrissy organized in her town.

‘And she liked it all so much, that she came home and told about it, and did not rest until she had started a society out of our class in Sunday school. I joined as an associate member, because I was ready to do whatever the others did, but I got acquainted in that society with Jesus Christ. I signed the pledge, and gave myself to Him forever; and I’ve had a good winter.”

Chrissy was surprised and humbled to know that her efforts resulted in a soul being won for Christ. “Unfaithful, unreliable in every way, yet He had used her in the harvest field!” wrote Isabella Alden.

Posing in the shape of the CE monogram ca 1898

Members of two Christian Endeavor Societies pose on the steps of Antioch College in the shape of the CE monogram, circa 1895.

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Isabella and her husband, Reverend Alden were tireless workers for Christian Endeavor. Isabella featured the society in her books Chrissy’s Endeavor, Her Associate Members, Pauline, and What They Couldn’t. She also wrote several short stories about Christian Endeavor: One Day’s Endeavoring and A Christian Endeavor Revenge were published in the Christian Endeavor magazine, The Golden Rule. And her book Grace Holbrook was a compilation of several short stories that illustrated the principles of Christian Endeavor for children.


You can learn more about today’s Christian Endeavor by clicking here to visit their site.

Click on the book covers below to find out more about the books mentioned in this post.

Cover_Chrissys Endeavor v3    Cover_Her Associate Members v2 resized

Cover_Pauline    Cover_What They Couldnt 02 resized

 

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.

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