Who were Emilie Loring’s favorite authors?

Athenaeum wpr
Sketch of Emilie Loring in the Boston Athenaeum

Emilie read a lot—and not just casually, but critically.  She reviewed children’s books for her father when she was young enough to sit on the publisher’s desk, she reviewed her siblings’ plays in her twenties and thirties, and when she began to write in her forties, she wrote book reviews first.

So who were the authors whose work resonated in memory? Which created the kind of reading experience that she might try to recreate in her own writing?  Who were Emilie Loring’s favorite authors?

Emilie quoted Alice in Wonderland in most of her books.

“With Betty’s soft gold curls against her shoulder Nancy read aloud from the story of Alice in Wonderland. She had read it so many times that her tongue glibly followed the printed lines…”  Gay Courage

BPL art
The Arts, Boston Public Library

But when it came to stocking her adult bookshelf, Emilie collected historical fiction.

Sets of Dickens, Thackeray, Macaulay, Irving, Parkman. She smiled as her eyes rested on the Cadell edition of Scott. The Solitary Horseman

Of them, Dickens was a favorite.  She admired him mainly for his writing genius, but his works did include two historical novels, Barnaby Rudge and A Tale of Two Cities.

She voted for Charles Dickens as a satisfying hardy perennial and declared that by some trick of manner, or striking oddity of feature, he made even the most unimportant characters unforgettable. As Long As I Live

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Boston’s Old Corner Bookstore

Sir Walter Scott also seems to have been a favorite. It was he who provided the dedication of A Certain Crossroad to Emilie’s husband, Victor:

“But always the Knight kept the lady’s hand close in his and always he stepped forward firmly, shining eyes straight ahead, for even in the gloom all was sharp-cut and clear to his vision.”

Of the remainder, William Makepeace Thackeray and Washington Irving wrote historical novels, and Thomas Babington Macaulay and Francis Parkman wrote legitimate histories that read like novels.

I think Emilie might have been interested in the weeklong Virtual Historical Festival that is taking place this week.  I’ve already enjoyed some of their blogs.  Here is their ad:

“From April 18-22 2016, Endeavour Press are launching the first ever virtual historical fiction festival. As well as author interviews, live Q&As, and writing tips, we will be running competitions and giving free eBooks to everyone who participates.”

More than fifty authors are participating in half-hour online sessions, so you can ask them about their works–and did you notice? Free eBooks to everyone who participates.  (@Hist_Fest, #HistFest)

“Contemporary fiction is contemporary history,” said Emilie. “Read it.” Her books were set in the years in which they are written, and her characters respond to the events of their times.

“I want the curtains put on the roadster before we start for Shorehaven.”  Here Comes the Sun! (1924)

It was hard to believe that across the ocean General Trouble was marshalling his dangerous forces and stalking like a war lord from country to country, his heavy tread shaking the hearts of people everywhere.  As Long As I Live (1937)

The sneak-attack on Pearl Harbor already seemed a hundred years ago. . . . Humiliating as it was to have been caught napping, the catastrophe had served to unite the citizens of the United States in a gigantic war program.  Rainbow at Dusk (1942)

So I wonder… Since the last was written in 1951, sixty-five years ago, are they now historical fiction?

 


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