Woman of the Century/Alice French
FRENCH. Miss Alice, novelist, born in Andover, Mass., 19th March, 1850. She is widely known by her pen-name, "Octave Thanet." She has lived in the West and South for many years. ALICE FRENCH. On both sides she is a descendant of the Puritans. She has Mayflower people and Revolutionary heroes, witch-hangers and modern rulers of Massachusetts among her ancestors, as well as godly ministers not a few, so that, as she has two centuries of unadulterated New England behind her, as she was educated there and goes there every summer, while she lives in the West and spends her winters in the South, she is so much of a composite that she says she hesitates to place herself. Two of her brothers were educated abroad, and one of them married one of the Irish Hamiltons. Her father was a manufacturer of agricultural implements. He was a loyal westerner, but he never lost his fondness for the Fast, going there regularly every summer. He was much more than a business man, being an enthusiastic lover of books and a connoisseur in the fine arts. Miss French began to write shortly after she was graduated from Abbot Academy, Andover, Mass. The editors gave her the good advice to wait, and she waited several years, when she sent "A Communist's Wife" to the the Harpers, who declined it, and she sent it to the Lippincotts, who accepted it. Since that time she has always found a place for her works. The criticisms that editors offer she has found very valuable. Among her published works are " Knitters in the Sun" (Boston, 1887); "Otto the Knight" (Boston); "Expiation" (New York, 1890), and "We All" (New York). She has also edited "The Best Letters of Lady Mary Montagu" (Chicago). She is very fond of the Gallic models of Style. She is interested in historical studies and the German philosophers. She likes all out-of-door sports and declares that she is a great deal better cook than a writer. It is a delight to her to arrange a dinner. She has a fad for collecting china. In politics she is a Democrat, a moderate free-trader and a firm believer in honest money. Miss French has a deep interest in English history and a great affection for England. She pursued her studies assiduously, going to original sources for her pictures of by-gone times, and finding the most inspiration in the period which saw the rise of our present industrial system, the reign of Henry VIII and his children. Her pen-name was the result of chance. "Octave" was the name of her room-mate at school, and had the advantage of being suited to either sex. The word "Thanet" she saw written or printed on a passing freight-car. She prefers the Scotch to the French pronunciation of the word, although she regrets ever having used a pen-name.