Tag Archives: Raymond Macdonald Alden

The Pansy Magazine

6 Jan

For over twenty years Isabella Alden and her husband edited a children’s magazine called The Pansy.

Pansy Cover 1886 Jul


Each issue was filled with inspiring stories, delightful illustrations, short poems, and descriptions of exotic and far-away places to spark children’s imaginations. Published by D. Lothrop and Company of Boston, the magazine was first produced as a weekly publication, and later changed to a monthly.

D. Lothrop and Company sales room


Editing and writing for the magazine was no easy undertaking and Isabella’s entire family pitched in to help.

Pick up any issue of The Pansy and you’ll find stories by Isabella’s sisters, Julia Macdonald and Marcia Livingston, or her best friend, Theodosia Foster (writing as Faye Huntington).

Margaret Sidney, famous for the Five Little Peppers books for children, published some of her books as serials in The Pansy, as did author Ruth Ogden. Even Isabella’s brother-in-law Charles and beloved niece Grace Livingston (before her marriage to Reverend Frank Hill) contributed stories.

The 1881 cover of The Five Little Peppers and How They Grew by Margaret Sidney

The 1881 cover of The Five Little Peppers and How They Grew by Margaret Sidney


Isabella’s son Raymond wrote poems, and her husband Reverend Gustavus “Ross” Alden contributed stories and short homilies like this one:

Don't Gossip. Children, avoid this evil. I am pained every day at seeing the work which mischief-makers do. Someone has compared this evil to pin-making. “There is sometimes some truth, which I call the wire. As this passes from hand to hand, one gives it a polish, another a point, others make and put on the head, and at last the pin is done.” The Bible speaks much against mischief-making, and I would advise you to collect all the verses in this book, bearing on this subject, and commit them to memory, and then I do not think you will ever be guilty of this sin. Remember, my little friends, that you can never gather up the mischief you may do by gossip.


Sometimes, the family banded together to write stories for the magazine. In 1886 each family member—Isabella, Ross, Marcia, Grace, Raymond, Theodosia, and Charles—took a turn writing a chapter of a serial story titled  “A Sevenfold Trouble.” In 1887 they continued their collaboration by writing a sequel titled, “Up Garret,” with each writer again  producing a different chapter. In 1889 the combined stories were published as a book titled A Sevenfold Trouble.

An original illustration for A Sevenfold Trouble, published in an 1887 edition of The Pansy.

An original illustration for A Sevenfold Trouble, published as an 1887 serial in The Pansy.


Isabella also previewed some of her own books by publishing them as serial stories in the magazine. Monteagle and A Dozen of Them first captured readers’ hearts in the pages of The Pansy.

Cover of 2015 e-book edition of Monteagle


The magazine was a resounding success. Thousands of boys and girls from around the world subscribed. Many children grew to adulthood reading the magazine, as Isabella remained at the helm of The Pansy for over 23 years.

Next week: The Pansy Society

Like Mother, Like Son

22 Jun

Isabella Alden’s first published book Helen Lester was written as an entry to a contest . . . which she won! Isabella’s prize was a check for $50 and publication of her book Helen Lester in 1865.

Raymond Alden in an undated photo

Raymond Alden in an undated photo

Her son, Raymond, was also a writer. Like his mother, he began writing at a young age. As an associate professor at Stanford University in California he authored several text books. He also contributed stories to The Pansy magazine, which his mother edited; and in 1909 his Christmas book for children, Why the Chimes Rang, was published.

The 1909 cover of Why the Chimes Rang by Raymond Alden

The 1909 cover of Why the Chimes Rang by Raymond Alden

Forty years after his mother took her first writing prize, Raymond entered a writing contest. In 1905 he submitted a short story titled “In the Promised Land” to a writing contest sponsored by Collier’s Weekly magazine. His short story took third prize in the national contest and Raymond was awarded $1,000. That was a substantial prize—the equivalent of $26,000 in today’s economy.

Article in The Los Angeles Herald, February 13, 1905

Article in The Los Angeles Herald, February 13, 1905

Raymond’s story was published in the June 1905 issue of Collier’s Weekly, and you can read it, too. Click here to read Raymond Alden’s prize-winning story, “In the Promised Land.”

Click here to read an earlier post about Isabella’s prize-winning book Helen Lester.

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