Authors at Home

From Zeugma’s latest PG Update post: Authors at home: Personal and biographical sketches of well-known American writers, J. L. & J. B. Gilder eds., 1889. This is from the entry on Charles Dudley Warner, who I love. He wrote, among many books, Being a Boy which I blogged about here.

The house is full of books. Every part of it is more or less of a library. Laden shelves flank the landings of the broad stairway, and so on all the way up to the work-room in the third story, where the statuette of Thackeray on our author’s table seems to survey with amusement the accumulated miscellaneous mass of literature stacked and piled around. Upon any volume of this collection Mr. Warner could lay his hand in an instant—when he found where it was. This opulence of books was partly due to the fact that Mr. Warner was a newspaper editor, and in that capacity had the general issue of the press precipitated upon him. Not that he kept it all. The theological works and Biblical commentaries mostly went to the minister. And there are a score of children about, whose juvenile libraries are largely made up of contributions from “Uncle Charley.” His home was a thoroughly charming one in every way, and whoever may have had the pleasure of an evening there must have come away wishing that he might write an article on the mistress of that house.

pg. 315

I have skimmed the biographies of several authors–both famous and lost to time. They are as much about the writers’ about homes, habits, and surrounds as they are about the writers themselves. Simply charming. Harriet Beecher Stowe (Charles Dudley’s neighbor, by the way);

As a general thing she preferred to be unaccompanied on her walks. She moved along at a good pace, but so to speak, quietly, with her head bent somewhat forward, and at times so wrapped in thought as to pass without recognition people whom she knew, even when saluted by them. Yet she would often pause to talk with children whom she saw at their sports, and amuse both herself and them with kindly inquiries about their affairs—the game they were playing or what not. One day she stopped a little girl of the writer’s acquaintance, who was performing the then rather unfeminine feat of riding a bicycle, and had her show how she managed the mount and the dismount, etc., while she looked on laughing and applauding.

pg. 305

Authors at home: Personal and biographical sketches of well-known American writers, J. L. & J. B. Gilder eds., 1889. PG #69728.