My sister Pat gave me a wonderful gift the other day: Two books that belonged to our dad, Frank Shane. The books were stored in an old trunk that was shipped from Iowa to Portland, Oregon, probably when my dad’s aunts moved there in the early 1900’s. I’ll post a picture of the trunk one of these days. Anyway, I didn’t know these books existed so am excited and honored to have them. The books are “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” by Harriett Beecher-Stowe with a publication date of 1897,, and “The Christmas Fairy” by John Strange Winter with a publication date of 1900. “The Christmas Fairy” book also contains “Not Quite True” by Mrs. Molesworth, and “In the Chimney Corner” by Frances E. Crompton. According to Google Books “The Christmas Fairy” book is now out of copyright.
“Uncle Tom’s Cabin” is in pretty tough condition but contains “over 100 illustrations from Original drawings by celebrated artists” so it’ll be fun to share some of those illustrations in future posts. But tonight the post will be about “The Christmas Fairy”
According to Wikipedia, John Strange Winter was a pen name for English novelist Henrietta Eliza Vaughn Stannard, born January 13, 1856 in York.
“Henrietta was the daughter of Reverend H. V. Palmer, rector of St. Margaret’s, York and wrote fiction for magazines, producing sentimental stories, chiefly of army life. Two of these, “Booties Baby” and “Hoe-p-la” which appeared originally in “The Graphic” in 1885 established her reputation and she became a prolific novelist, producing some sixty other light and amusing books, the best of which deal with military life. An indefatigable journalist on matters affecting women, she was the first president of The Writer’s Club (1892) and presided from 1901 to 1903 over the Society of Women Journalists. In 1884 she married Arthur Stannard, a civil engineer.”
Dad’s copy of “The Christmas Fairy” bears an inscription “Frank from Raymond” so most likely was a gift to dad from his cousin, Raymond Samels. I’m not convinced that Raymond actually wrote the inscription as it appears to be adult handwriting and this is definitely a child’s book. Dad later added his own name and address to the same page.
The story deals with two boys in a boarding school who are unable to return to their homes for the Christmas Holiday and are very sad about it. But they’re eventually “rescued” by the Aunt of one of the boys and so will have their holiday after all.
I’m sure this was a book that a youngster would have enjoyed, and dad and his family lived in for a time in Minneapolis where his Samels cousins lived as children, so might this have been a Christmas gift during the time the Shanes lived in Minneapolis? Or perhaps it was a farewell present, or it might have been mailed to dad later after the Shanes moved to Oregon. We’ll never know the answer, but I’m grateful to my sister for the gift of this lovely little book and the knowledge that our dad must have treasured it.
**P.S. In some recent communications with Paula Sassi, she indicated that the signature on the first page of the book “Frank from Raymond” might have actually been written by a young person as they did more teaching of handwriting in those years. SJE
Susan J. Edminster, Granite Falls, Washington, December 13, 2009. All Rights Reserved.
Photographs are the sole property of Susan J. Edminster, Granite Falls, Washington