At one time he had more than sixty oil wells drilled on his land. Gene and Charles Porter's only child, a daughter, named Jeannette, was born on August 27, , when the Porters were living in Decatur, Indiana. The family moved to Geneva, in Adams County, Indiana , in Charles pursued various business interests and traveled extensively, while Gene stayed at home. She maintained her independence through the pursuit of her lifelong interests in nature and birdlife, and began by writing about these subjects to earn her own income.
In time, she became an independently wealthy novelist, nonfiction writer, and film producer. Stratton-Porter had four grandchildren, two granddaughters, and two grandsons.
The Porters' daughter, Jeannette, married G. Blaine Monroe in and had two daughters: The Monroes divorced in , and then Jeannette and her two daughters moved to Los Angeles , California , to live with Stratton-Porter, who had moved there in The Meehans had two sons: Leah lived with Stratton-Porter for several years after Leah's father's death. In Stratton-Porter persuaded her husband, Charles, to move their family from Decatur to Geneva in Adams County, Indiana , where he would be closer to his businesses. He initially purchased a small home within walking distance of his drugstore;  however, when oil was discovered on his land, it provided the financial resources need to build a larger home.
Both of these properties are preserved as state historic sites. Stratton-Porter moved to southern California in and made it her year-round residence. She purchased homes in Hollywood and built a vacation home that she named Singing Water on her property on Catalina Island. Floraves, her lavish mountaintop estate in Bel Air , was nearly completed at the time of her death in , but she never lived in it.
Construction on a two-story, room, cedar-log Queen Anne-style rustic home in Geneva began in and was completed in The Porters named their new home the Limberlost Cabin in reference to its location near the 13,acre 5,hectare Limberlost Swamp , where Stratton-Porter liked to explore found the inspiration for her writing. Stratton-Porter lived in the cabin until While residing in Geneva, Stratton-Porter spent much time exploring, observing nature, sketching, and making photographs at the Limberlost Swamp.
She also began writing nature stories and books. The nearby swamp was the setting for two of her most popular novels, A Girl of the Limberlost and Laddie In addition, the swamp was the locale for many of her works of natural history. Between and , the area's wetlands around Stratton-Porter's home were drained to reclaim the land for agricultural development and the Limberlost Swamp, along with the flora and fauna that Stratton-Porter documented in her books, was destroyed. The Porters sold the Limberlost Cabin in It was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in After the Limberlost Swamp was drained and its natural resources developed for commercial purposes, Stratton-Porter sought alternate locations for inspiration.
She initially purchased a small home on the north side of Sylvan Lake, near Rome City, in Noble County, Indiana , as a summer home while she looked for property to build a new residence. In she purchased lakeside property using her own funds and designed and had a new home built there in Stratton-Porter named her new home the Cabin at Wildflower Woods , which she also called Limberlost Cabin because of its similarity to the Porters' home in Geneva.
She moved into the large, two-story, cedar-log cabin in February ; her husband, Charles, who remained at their home in Geneva, commuted to the lakeside property on weekends. Stratton-Porter assisted in developing the grounds of Wildflower Woods into her private wildlife sanctuary. Its natural setting provided her with the privacy she desired, at least initially; however, her fame attracted too many unwanted visitors and trespassers.
The property's increasing lack of privacy was one of the reasons that caused her move to California in Stratton-Porter offered to sell her property to the State of Indiana in to establish a state nature preserve, but representatives of the state government did not respond. She retained ownership of Wildflower Woods for the remainder of her life.
Designated as the Gene Stratton-Porter State Historic Site, the present-day acre hectare property, including 20 acres 8. The property was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in She arrived in southern California in the fall of , intending to spend the winter months there, but enjoyed it so much that she decided to make it her year-round home. Stratton-Porter enjoyed an active social life in the Los Angeles area, made new friends, began to publish her poetry, and continued to write novels and magazine articles.
In she also established her own film production company. Stratton-Porter initially purchased a small home between Second and Third Streets in Hollywood, not far from where her Stratton relatives lived. Stratton-Porter's sister, Catherine, and two of Stratton-Porter's nieces were already living in southern California when she moved there. Her brother, Jerome, and his wife later retired nearby. In , when Stratton-Porter's recently divorced daughter, Jeannette, and Stratton-Porter's two granddaughters relocated to California to live with her, she purchased a larger home at the corner of Serrano and Fourth Street, while Charles remained at Geneva, still active in the town's bank.
After the Porters sold the Limberlost Cabin in , he stayed at a Geneva boardinghouse when he was not traveling. In early Stratton-Porter purchased two lots on Catalina Island to build a room vacation retreat. The grounds of the 5-acre 2. Stratton-Porter moved into the wildlife haven in June and named it Singing Water because of the sounds emitting from the elaborate fountain. By March Stratton-Porter had selected a site for an estate home in southern California in an undeveloped area west of present-day Beverly Hills that became Bel Air.
Stratton-Porter was the first to build a residence there. The property also included a 4-car garage with servants' quarters above it, a greenhouse, outdoor ponds, and a tennis court. Stratton-Porter named her estate Floraves for flora meaning flowers and aves meaning birds. She died on December 6, , a few weeks before the home was completed.
Her daughter, Jeannette, was the sole heir of her mother's estate. While her marriage to Charles Porter provided financial security and personal independence, Gene sought additional roles beyond those of wife and mother. She took up writing in as an outlet for self-expression and as a means to earn her own income. Stratton-Porter felt that as long as her work did not interfere with the needs of her family, she was free to pursue her own interests.
She began her literary career by observing and writing about birdlife of the upper Wabash River valley and the nature she had seen during visits to the Limberlost Swamp, less than a mile from her home in Geneva, Indiana. The Limberlost Swamp, the Limberlost Cabin at Geneva, and after , the Cabin at Wildflower Woods at Sylvan Lake in northeastern Indiana became the laboratories for her nature studies and the inspiration for her short stories, novels, essays, photography, and movies.
Stratton-Porter wrote twenty-six books that included twelve novels, eight nature studies, two books of poetry, and four collections of stories and children's books. Of the fifty-five books selling one million or more copies between and , five of them were novels written by Stratton-Porter. Many of her works delve into difficult subject matter such as themes of abuse, prostitution, and abandonment.
In the case of Her Father's Daughter , the anti-Asian sentiment that her writing reflected prevalent in the United States during that era. Her other writing also introduced the concept of land and wildlife conservation to her readers. Although Stratton-Porter preferred to focus on nature books, it was her romantic novels that gained her fame and wealth. These generated the income that allowed her to pursue her nature studies. Her novels have been translated into twenty-three languages, as well as Braille. Stratton-Porter began her career in , when she sent nature photographs that she had made to Recreation magazine.
Her first published article, "A New Experience in Millinery," appeared in the publication's February issue. The article described her concerns about harming birds in order to use their feathers as hat trims. At the magazine's request, Stratton-Porter also wrote a photography column called "Camera Notes. Her first short story, "Laddie, the Princess, and the Pie," was published in Metropolitan magazine in September Stratton-Porter's writing also included poetry and children's stories, in addition to essays and editorials that were published in magazines with nationwide circulation such as McCall's and Good Housekeeping.
Although it was published anonymously in , circumstantial evidence suggests that Stratton-Porter's first book was The Strike at Shane's. However, Stratton-Porter never acknowledged that she had written it and its author was never revealed. Bobbs-Merrill published her first, full-length attributed novel, The Song of the Cardinal , about a red bird living along the Wabash River. The book explained how birds lived in the wild and also included her photographs.
Although the novel was a modest commercial success and was warmly received by literary critics, Stratton-Porter's publisher believed that nature stories would not become as popular as romance novels. For her second novel, Stratton-Porter decided to combine nature and romance. Freckles , which was published by Doubleday, Page and Company , became a bestseller. The book's popularity among readers helped to launch her career as a successful novelist, despite its lackluster reviews from critics.
A Girl of the Limberlost , which was highly successful and her best-known work, brought her worldwide recognition. Its central character, Elnora Comstock, a lonely, poverty-stricken girl living on a farm in Adams County, goes to the Limberlost Swamp to escape from her troubles and earns money to pay for her education by collecting and selling moth specimens. It reached number one on the best-seller list in Freckles , A Girl of the Limberlost , and The Harvester are set in the wooded wetlands and swamps of northeast Indiana.
Stratton-Porter loved the area and its wildlife and had documented them extensively. Translations of her book into other languages also increased her international audience. In , when Stratton-Porter reached a long-term agreement with Doubleday, Page and Company to publish her books, she agreed to provide one manuscript each year, alternating between novels and nonfiction nature books.
Stratton-Porter's next novel, Laddie: A True Blue Story , another of her best-selling novels, included elements that corresponded to her early life. It was written while she supervised construction of her home at Sylvan Lake in Noble County, Indiana, and she described it as her most autobiographical novel. The narrative is told in the first person by the twelfth child of the "Stanton" family. The title character is modeled after Stratton-Porter's deceased older brother, Leander, whom Stratton-Porter nicknamed Laddie.
As in Stratton-Porter's own family, Laddie is connected with the land and identifies with their father's vocation of farming. Michael O'Halloran , her seventh novel, was inspired by a newsboy she had encountered at Philadelphia , while visiting her daughter, Jeannette, and her family. A Daughter of the Land , her next novel, did not sell as well as her earlier works. Undeterred, she continued to write until her death in Her Father's Daughter , one of Stratton-Porter's last novels, was set in southern California, outside Los Angeles, where she had moved around The novel is especially biased against immigrants of Asian descent.
Judith Reick Long, one of Stratton-Porter's biographers, stated that World War I -era racial prejudice and nativism were prevalent in the United States and it was not unusual to be anti-Asian in southern California at that time. Barbara Olenyik Morrow, another of her biographers, explained that the book was intentionally playing to the era's ethnic prejudices. The Literary Review , ignoring its anti-Asian content, noted its "wholesome charm.
The White Flag , criticized as an old-fashioned melodrama, failed to make the bestseller list; however, the story was serialized in Good Housekeeping magazine beginning in , in advance of the book's release. By the time of its publication, Stratton-Porter's interests had shifted toward filmmaking. Both of them were written at her home on Catalina Island and published posthumously. The Keeper of the Bees is a story about a World War I veteran who regains his heath through the restorative "power and beauty of nature.
The Magic Garden , about a girl of divorced parents, was written for her two granddaughters, whose parents divorced when they were young. Filmmaker James Leo Meehan, Stratton-Porter's business partner and son-in-law, wrote a screenplay of the novel shortly after Stratton-Porter had completed the manuscript. Stratton-Porter, a keen observer of nature, wrote eight nonfiction nature books that were moderate sellers compared to her novels.
Both of these nature books were slow sellers. Music of the Wild , also published by Jennings and Graham, warned of the adverse effects that the destruction of trees and swamps would have on rainfall. Her warnings appeared nearly two decades before the Dust Bowl of the s and well in advance of present-day environmental concerns about climate change.
Moths of the Limberlost , the nature book of which Stratton-Porter was "most proud," was dedicated to Neltje Blanchan , a fellow nature writer and the wife of her publisher, Frank Nelson Doubleday. Praised for its content, it described birdlife using easy-to-understand language for the general public. Wings was published a year before her death; Tales You Won't Believe was published posthumously. While literary critics called her novels overly sentimental, academics dismissed her nature writing because they felt that her research methods were unscientific.
Stratton-Porter, who was not a trained scientist, centered her field research on her own interests in observing the domestic behavior of wild birds, such as their nest-building, diets, and social behavior. Her writing tried to explain nature in ways that her readers could understand and avoided scientific jargon and tedious, dry statistics. After her move to California in , Stratton-Porter wrote articles for the Izaak Walton League 's publication, Outdoor America , and a thirteen-part series of nature articles for Good Housekeeping.
She also agreed to write a series of editorials for McCall's magazine in a monthly column called the "Gene Stratton-Porter's Page," beginning in January Morning Face , a collection of children's stories that also included her photographs, was dedicated to her granddaughter, Jeannette Monroe, whom Stratton-Porter had nicknamed "Morning Face. The Fire Bird , a Native American tragedy, was the first of her long narrative poems to be published in book form. Its sales were weak and it was not well received by literary critics. Stratton-Porter explains her religious beliefs in the afterward of the book.
In addition to writing, Stratton-Porter was an accomplished artist and wildlife photographer, specializing in the birds and moths that lived in the Limberlost Swamp , one of the last of the wetlands of the lower Great Lakes Basin. She also made sketches of her observations as part of her fieldwork. Stratton-Porter was especially noted for her close-up photographs of wildlife in their natural habitat.
In one of her early photographic studies, she documented the development of a black vulture over a period of three months. Stratton-Porter began photographing birds in the Limberlost Swamp and along the Wabash River near her home in Geneva, Indiana, after her husband, Charles, and daughter, Jeannette, presented her with a camera as a Christmas gift in She submitted some of her early photographs to Recreation magazine in the late s and wrote a regular camera column for the publication in Outing magazine hired her to do similar work in Unhappy with images the magazine editors suggested to accompany her writing, she began to submit her own photographs as illustrations for her articles.
She also preferred to use her own photographs to illustrate her nature books. Many of the photographs in Music of the Wild were taken at her Sylvan Lake home in northeastern Indiana. Elnora's mother holds a grudge! And, she just won't let go. Elnora does everything she can to please her mother, but try as she may--nothing works.
Her mother just can't let go of the emotional pain of having lost her husband when Elnora was born. The child is just too much of a reminder of what she could have had in her life if he had lived. Life was hard in Even though Elnora's mother could sell some of the timber on the land and be set for life she refuses to do it. Again, it's that old nagging reminder of her husband and why they bought this place to build a life. It's a living memorial in her mind. She won't hand over a pittance to Elnora--not even for clothes to go to school. The plucky teenager won't let that stop her.
She wants ever so much to go to school. Her whole heart is wrapped up in that dream. The first day, her mother sends her off intentionally in clothes that look ridiculous on her. Of course, she is teased and ostracized from all the girls for looking silly in her old fashioned clothes and her clunky boots.
Most girls would clam up and not go back to school. She is so determined to succeed. She is determined to find "some way" to make this work. And, that is when things begin to change in her family. From the time she was quite young, Elnora had been collecting butterflies and moths from the forested swamps around her house.
The Limberlost had been her playground and refuge; and, she cultivated a wonderful love of nature that was quite unusual for girls of that time period. With a deep passion and ingenuity, she comes up with a plan to not only get the money for school, new clothes, and books, but also to mend her mother's broken heart.
Why not follow Elnora to the Limberlost to find the healing magic of the woods and learn how one determined young girl lays the groundwork for her future and all those around her.
The Poetry of Gene-Stratton Porter Reared by people who constantly pointed out every natural beauty, using it wherever possible to drive home a precept, the child lived out-of-doors with the wild almost entirely. The Magic Garden , about a girl of divorced parents, was written for her two granddaughters, whose parents divorced when they were young. It contained all the books that my mother read as a child and was storing at my grandparents house. Every day I could hardly wait for the days chapter. Hi Diana, thanks for that — I read a review of it online that said much the same and that it was very racist. For so many pages my heart was in my throat with worry and suspense, not knowing how this life would pan out for Elnora, Philip and his fiancee oooh, see that—scandalous!
I first read this in high school, but it is even better as an adult. I enjoyed the book as a good story when I was a teen, but the nuances revolving around the characters' relationships and interactions are what made me love it even more now. The heroine, Elnora, is so sweet and good a person. Normally, I would find that somewhat boring, but the way she's written, it's not annoying but rather endearing. I found myself cheering each time she overcame an obstacle.
While I loved her, the supporting cast are really the ones who steal the book for me. Elnora really doesn't have a character arc, but all the main supporting cast do and I love them for it.
The book reminds me a lot of Louisa May Alcott and L. Montgomery, but the quality of the characters, their development, and the writing sets it apart. The little commentaries Stratton-Porter makes about people and society are thrown out with casual ease, yet always hit me with their profundity. I ended up highlight huge chunks of my book, because I loved it so much. Frankly, there is a lot to say about this story and the depth to which it could be analyzed, but on to of all that, it's a sweet story about a good person.
It's one of my new favorite books! Okay, I'm gonna get all mushy. Not that I really need to jump onto this pile of praise. But this is a wonderful, decidedly old-fashioned, feel-good book. In my mid teens, a big barrel arrived at our house one evening. It contained all the books that my mother read as a child and was storing at my grandparents house.
Editorial Reviews. From the Back Cover. A Girl of the Limberlost is unquestionably the most cherished books. It is the timeless story of an impoverished young. Editorial Reviews. From the Back Cover. In this book a homeless waif finds his deliverance in A Girl of the Limberlost [with Biographical Introduction].
I don't know what possessed me, being a guy and all, but I started with Limberlost. This is about me. The wild child bare-footing his way through the southwest Ohio woods, studying everything that caught his attention, collecting cocoons every winter experiencing whatever ecstasy is available to a year-old when they emerged in June. And there I was, too, plotting, planning, and conniving to get into college. So, in my dotage, or maybe half-dotage, when I require myself to re-read a book that really impressed me earlier in life from time to time, I decided to re-read Limberlost.
I'm a little wiser. I can see some of the formal seams in the writing, now. This is a good read. Now to buy The Harvester again and let it guilt me from my bookshelf until I re-read it too. The book would get five stars but the service wouldn't get any, hence the three star rating. The book was listed as free. After a few chapters a notice shows on the next page saying that it costs ninety nine cents to continue reading. Fortunately I had read the book a number of years ago so I dumped the book.
If that is the way future books will be charged, I will go back to borrowing books from the local library. But worth the wait!! When I was 7 years old my favorite aunt told me this was her favorite book in the world. And Amazon gave all of us classics, maybe not all of them YET, but oh so many books to read. It is a wonderful book, for all ages.
My auntie was in her 60's when she told me about this book, and now I have had the joy of reading it in my late 60's. It truly is a timeless classic, and I would urge any one who wants to learn about love, and all its facets, in literature ,would do well to read this book. Thank you Amazon for offering these timeless classics, for many of us these classics these classics have been out of reach until Kindle. I will forever be grateful for all of you at Amazon, and to the genius behind Amazon.
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