It's been a bit, I know. Part of the reason is the chaos that was 2022 for me. We decided to sell the house and move, and I decided to go back to school. On top of all of that, I cleaned off my trusty laptop in the spring and lost my progress on editing The Dalrymple Mystery, and I didn't have the focus to go back to that project. When I lost my files, I also deleted the original PDF with the images from the serialized version. That piece took several steps to create. My first thought was that I was going to have to go back through all issues of The National that contained excerpts and find the images.
Then, I remembered that I have the PDF file on my Nova Air and was able to move it to the Google Drive. Crisis averted! I just finished capturing the five drawings that go with the story, along with their original captions, so I can include those in the complete version of the story.
A Book of True Lovers
My last entry was almost a year ago, and I shared my highlights and notes file for this collection. I revisited McMichael's comments about this collection, and was not surprised to find he has little to say about it on page 153:
A Book of True Lovers came out at a time when editors were pleased to take anything she wrote. Her income from writing had increased almost $2,000 over two years before. The sales she listed in her ledger at the end of 1897 totaled $5,390 for this year. Much of the money went toward the restoration of the house in Arkansas, which was finally being completed during summer of 1897. Alice and Jenny named their new home 'Thanford' for Thanet and Crawford.
So, there is an Arkansas connection there, if only that the money was used to restore the house in Clover Bend.
"The Strike at Glasscock's" was, according to McMichael, "based on an incident described by Colonel Tucker of Clover Bend and was a parable for labor, showing the plight of a rural Arkansas mill owner whose wife had gone on strike" (152-3) to get the house painted. The story is reminiscent in some ways of Mary Wilkins-Freeman's oft-anthologized "The Revolt of Mother." As such, it might be interesting in that regard. Thanet's story originally appeared in December 1893's edition Northwestern Miller Holiday Number as "The Labor Question at Glasscock's." Mary Wilkins Freeman's story appeared in print in 1890 in Harper's. Given that Thanet also published in Harper's during the late 1800s, it is likely she was familiar with the story.
McMichael also discusses the relative domestic harmony at Thanford when discussing the book, which is sweet. The introduction of A Book of True Lovers is interesting, as well, as the focus there is on how all of the stories are focused on married couples. Perhaps it was a tip of Thanet's hat to the fact she valued her own Boston Marriage with Jane Crawford.
A Slave to Duty & Other Women
As with A Book of True Lovers, Thanet's next collection lacks much depth, despite the eye-catching title.
Another volume, A Slave to Duty and Other Women, her ninth book in eight years, also appeared in 1898, a reprinting of stories gathered from a wide variety of magazines and published by Herbert S. Stone in Chicago. For the first time, critical response to her work was almost wholly uncomplimentary, the reviewers announcing that the stories were trivial and unimportant (McMichael, 158).
In 1895, Alice's investments paid high dividends and her writing earned her more than $3,600. Henry Mills Alden had bought a short story, "The Missionary Sheriff," for $620, the most she had ever received for a story, and it was her first to be published in Harper's Magazine. Shortly after it was accepted, Harper and Brothers sent a letter asking that she write a series of short stories to be published first in Harper's Magazine and then to be issued by the publishing house in a single volume in 1897. --McMichael, p. 145.
About this project:
I've been saying since 2004 that I was going to write a critical biography of Octave Thanet (Alice French). This blog is the start of that work and will include notes, links to research, and other OT related tidbits.