Reading of literary classics was an integral part of both my formal education and my preferred pastime activities. My childhood book collection included a range of youth-oriented series popular with many of my peers as well as some from my parents’ childhood: Bobbsey Twins
, Honey Bunch, Tom Swift, Outdoor Girls, Horatio Alger, Five Little Peppers,
and (of course) Nancy Drew
. It also included the complete collection of the historical fiction of G. A. Henty.
As I got older, the Harvard Classics
and the Works of Charles Dickens
on my parents’ bookshelves introduced me to another level of literature. When I majored in English in college, I was drawn to the genre of the novel. I early found myself focusing on works by women: novels by Jane Austen, the Brontës, George Eliot, Louisa May Alcott, Edith Wharton, Willa Cather, and Virginia Woolf dominated my bookshelves. Curiously, the two authors whose works would later become the focus of my scholarship were absent: Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings
and Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell
. Neither was part of my college curriculum and, except for The Yearling,
none of their works appeared in my book collection until I was almost fifty-years old. As a librarian, I know I will always have easy access to all the works by the novelists who both early and later attracted my interest. However, I have taken great pleasure in developing my own collection of works by and about these women novelists. For this web site, I have profiled just the two authors on whom I have written and one, my great-great aunt (Ethel Fairmont Snyder Beebe
) whose collections of Rawlings, Cather and Woolf I inherited and expanded.