Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Grace Livingston Hill Biographies

Over the years Grace Livingston Hill has been one of my favorite authors. I enjoy collecting vintage copies of her books, and have now read over forty. As much as I enjoy her work, up until a couple of months ago I knew very little about this incredible author. Following a suggestion from my mom (a fellow G.L. Hill fan) I sought out a biography of Grace Livingston Hill. After discovering this list of her biographies I purchased Grace Livingston Hill: Her Story and Her Writings by Jean Karr published in 1948, a year after her death, and Grace Livingston Hill: The Life Story of One of America's Best-Loved Writer's, As Told by Her Grandson by Robert Munce published in 1986. Both biographies were informative and enjoyable to read. I would highly recommend both books to any one interested in learning about the life of Grace Livingston Hill.
 I read Grace Livingston Hill: The Life Story of One of America's Best-Loved Writer's, As Told by Her Grandson by Robert Munce first, and I am glad that I did. This biography offers a more personal look at Mrs. Hill's life. The work begins with a humorous poem Mrs. Hill wrote to her son-in-law for his birthday. I was glad to discover that G.L. Hill had a good sense humor! Robert Munce then related the story surrounding Grace's birth: she was born on Easter Sunday just two days after the assassination of President Lincoln. It was a tumultuous time in the history of our country, and for the Livingston family. G.L. Hill was an only child, raised by two wonderful Christian parents. It was a pleasure for me to catch a glimpse of what life was like in the Livingston home. There was a special closeness in the family and extended family, as they were all united in their love for Jesus.

It was fascinating to discover that G.L. Hill's mother was also a published author. I had learned some time before that her aunt Isabella Alden was a popular author, but never knew that her mother wrote as well. Both aunt and mother encouraged Grace to pursue her skills in writing, and proved wonderful, positive critics of her work.

Mr. Munce's biography shares many wonderful anecdotes of their time spent in Florida, G.L. Hill's first marriage proposal, her work at a local Christian college, how she met her husband Frank Hill and her marriage to Frank Hill. Life was often very difficult for G.L. Hill, for instance losing her husband of seven years and her father in short succession.

Munce also describes her unlikely second marriage (which was a bit of a surprise to me!), the building of her beautiful stone house and her mission work with local immigrants. I loved reading the descriptions of her house! The detailed description of the layout and decor were a real treat to the imagination.

After reading Grace Livingston Hill: The Life Story of One of America's Best-Loved Writer's, As Told by Her Grandson I wished that I could have known Grace Livingston Hill personally. She was a caring, hardworking woman with a heart to share the love of Jesus.
 Grace Livingston Hill: Her Story and Her Writings by Jean Karr focused more on Grace Livingston Hill's career and only briefly touched on her personal life. However I enjoyed reading about how some of her books were inspired. Karr's book also included full page pictures, whereas the pictures in Munce's book were smaller and harder to see.

I was interested to learn how Mrs. Hill's publishers requested that she remove religious themes from her stories, and she staunchly refused to comply with their demands. The resulting conflict forced her to switch publishers, and as a single mom I am sure that was a difficult step of faith to take! However it was inspiring to see how the Lord to care of her family and how Grace Livingston Hill put Jesus first in her writing. Later in her career she received countless letters telling her how her books had encouraged and inspired soldiers wearied and heartsick after the wars. Many were even led to salvation through her books. What a reward for her unwavering steadfastness!

Karr noted that Mrs. Hill did not go to the movies, but did enjoy listening to the radio. One of her favorite programs was the Kate Smith show. I was also interested to learn that two of Grace Livingston Hill's favorite authors were Kathleen Norris and Temple Bailey, since they happen to be two authors I also enjoy.

To close I thought I would share a couple paragraphs from Grace Livingston Hill: Her Story and Her Writings by Jean Karr.

"She (Mrs.Hill) was always busy- cooking, cleaning, tending the lawn and working in the garden, and sewing for two little girls who were growing very fast. She made all their clothing for them, and there was always the task of letting out seams and lengthening little dresses to make them last a while longer.

As Margaret and Ruth approached school age, their busy mother determined not to send them to school at once, but gave them lessons at home, in the way her parents had taught her as a child. So in between the routine duties of the household, there were classes in reading, writing, spelling, grammar, geography, history, and arithmetic. Mrs. Hill was evidently as good a teacher as she was a housekeeper. She continued to teach the two girls until Margaret was eleven years old and Ruth was eight, at which time they entered the public school." (Page 63)

"Grace Livingston Hill died at the age of eighty-two, on February 23, 1947. Her life span had begun in the troubled Civil War days immediately following the assassination of Abraham Lincoln and ended during the period of international confusion and distrust that came as an aftermath of the second great World War and the discovery of the atomic bomb. It was a long way to come, from the days of the horse-and-buggy trips with her minister father to the days of atomic energy and stratoshere flights. It had been in general, a satisfying life, but the world of the 1940's was one in which she didn't feel at home, one which she willingly departed." (page 113)
I hope you have enjoyed this look at these two biographies. They are a wonderful addition to my Grace Livingston Hill book collection. I was touched and inspired by this incredible lady's talent, imagination, fortitude and love for the Lord!



15 comments:

  1. Sounds delightful! You have shared enough to quench the taste buds if you will for a good read, thank you.

    Bless you ~

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  2. I have read several of her books and found them to be delightful. It's good to know a bit more about her life.

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  3. I greatly enjoyed your sharings about these biographies- I can just imagine what a treat they were for you to read, and oh how pretty the covers alone are, as well! Your sharing about GLH and her work has long made me look forward to to read her :)
    What a delight to read the wonderful excerpts you wrote out, as well as to get a glimpse of the eras she lived through and the trials she endured only to have even stronger faith. What a tremendous example- I loved the part you mentioned about her trust in the Lord as she sought to honor him and switched publishers so as not to conform.
    I'm also enjoying catching up on your beautiful posts and your sweetly spent autumn days shared in your previous post. Such lovely, cozy days. And Miranda is so sweet and cute.

    Have a very blessed day, dear Sarah!
    Jazzmin

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  4. Hi, just wanted to say, I enjoyed this article. It was helpful.

    Keep on posting!

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  5. That's interesting. I'd always read that Hill "toned down" the proselytizing in her later novels (late 30s, 40s) because publishers demanded less overt religion and more subtle references. That was before the Christian fiction publishing houses were in business, and she had to comply eventually to. I've not read many of her books because I find her characters overly simplistic and the plots highly predictable, but they do have a kind of vintage charm. I actually tried out her writing because you are such a fan and I generally enjoy old books, but I'm not much for novels anyway, so she didn't "take". It would be interesting to know more about her mother, wouldn't it? As an author herself.

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    1. Thank you for your comment! I had never heard that GLH toned down the Christian themes of her books in the 1930's and 1940's. I must disagree with that source and agree with her biographers. I have read many of her books and never found any of her later works less outspoken about topics of faith than her earlier works. In fact I often find a greater depth of faith in her later books. One examples would be "Sunrise" from 1937, it beautifully shares the gospel and discusses the return of Jesus. Two of my later favorites are "By Way of the Silverthorns" from 1941 and "The Seventh Hour" from 1939, both clearly present the way of salvation.

      I agree! I would be interested to learn more about Grace Livingston Hill's mother and her books. From what was shared about her in the biographies she sounded like a wonderful woman.

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  6. What an amazing woman and what wonderful books she wrote.
    Glad I dropped by tonight.
    Hugs,
    Laura of Harvest Lane Cottage

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  7. I grew up reading GLH and it has been years, literally years since I've read any of her books. Thank you for this trip down Memory Lane! How wonderful to find out more about her, and how her writing career began. I can't imagine how hard it was for her to have been born in the horse and buggy days and then to die after WWII with all the technology available then. Wonderful that she stuck to her faith throughout her career and wrote to glorify the Lord in her books. I really enjoyed this post, and your insight on her life and career. Many blessings and hugs :)

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  8. Hi Sarah,
    I enjoyed reading your reviews on these two biographies of GLH. I would like to read these and will look for them.
    Have you listened to any audio versions of her books that you can recommend? I have listened to "A Daily Rate" and "The Enchanted Barn", which I enjoyed. It would be nice to find some more to listen to while I crochet during the chilly months ahead.
    Kind regards from Lynne

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    1. Hi Lynne,

      Yes, I have listened to a few GLH audio books through the Librivox website. Here is a link to the page: https://librivox.org/author/743?primary_key=743&search_category=author&search_page=1&search_form=get_results

      My favorites are "Marcia Schuyler", "Phoebe Deanne" and "Miranda". All three are part of a trilogy. I also enjoyed "A Voice in the Wilderness".

      I too enjoy a good audio book while crocheting or knitting. : )

      Sarah

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    2. Thank you for the link!

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  9. Yes Grace Livingston Hill was a great authoress. She actually got her start into writing by her aunt, Isabella Alden. Isabella Alden was the most popular christian authoress in the 1880s to 1915s. She had a huge following and she encouraged Grace to start writing book too. Isabella Alden published Grace's first book for her and Isabella praised her nieces work, and since having such a well known, well liked authoress behind Grace's books, they took off, and then she got her own following as well, since her aunt stop writing books around 1915.
    Isabella Alden is my very favourite authoress! As you might have guessed, and I'm a history lover and researcher so thats where all this info comes from! :)
    If you want to read some of Isabella Aldens books, there is a lot available on https://archive.org/ . You create a free account with them and can read lots of her books from their online library.
    Or if reading is not your thing, search https://librivox.org/ for Isabella Alden and download free audio recordings of many of her books! :)

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    1. Hi Audria,

      Thank you for your comment! I have not read any of Isabella Alden's books, but after reading your comment I think I would like to. Thank you for sharing that Librivox offers Isabella Alden's books. I just looked and discovered that they have over 30! I will listen to one soon. : )

      Sarah

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    2. You're very welcome!
      Enjoy!

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