Her name is Agnes Sligh Turnbull, and she was born on this day in 1888, a time in which Lady Authors, or Authoresses, as they were generically Plume-Nommed, were expected to write of hearth and home and perhaps flower-pressing and embroidery, with a tender, innocent romance culminated by clasping hands beneath a bough.
She looks kind and intelligent, and I like the way she smiles, as if she holds a wonderful secret. I’ll bet she was one of the first in her family to bob her hair; I imagine she could drive a car, and I like to think that she was a good cook, for her descriptions of cooking and food of the bygone eras are most evocative.
She IS a gentle writer, but her scope is far wider---in THE ROLLING YEARS, she wrote of young widowhood and tragedy and loss and war:
THE DAY MUST DAWN is a view of the gritty Pennsylvania frontier, through the eyes of a woman committed to securing a better life for her only daughter. The book portrays some of the tragic events which happened in the author's native western Pennsylvania, and gives a wonderful portrait of the triumph of human spirit.
THE GOWN OF GLORY is the one I always recommend to be read first of her books---its gentle simplicity of a Pastor’s family and their years in a small parsonage at the turn of the century is sweet and charming, with just enough hardship and loss to enhance the storyline, and a hopefully fulfilling ending.
And, until I went searching for pictures of her books to use, I did not know of her great popularity and remembrance amongst the dog-lovers of the world---she must have been quite a devotee, herself, for one of her quotes was printed on dozens of posters featuring pictures of dogs:
She was born in western Pennsylvania, the setting of so many of her stories, and then lived the last sixty of her ninety-three years in New Jersey.
It also brought me a little pang of regret to read the date of her passing, for since she was an author of my childhood, I had no idea that she lived until 1982. Knowing that she was alive when I was all grown up, and I could have written to tell her how much I had enjoyed all her wonderful stories and characters---I still feel the rue of missing that.
It was as if Jane Austen had still been alive in my lifetime, and I could have sent her a letter of thanks for all that her books and her words had meant to me.
And I SO wish I had.