Woman of the Century/Clara Louise Burnham
BURNHAM, Mrs. Clara Louise, novelist, born in Newton, Mass., 25th May, 1854. She is CLARA LOUSE BURNHAM. the oldest daughter of Dr. George F. Root, the eminent musical composer. Her father, becoming the senior partner ol the Chicago firm of Root & Cady. removed with his family to that city when Mrs. Burnham was very young, and Chicago has been her home ever since. A return for several summers to the old homestead in North Reading, Mass., together with the memory of the first years of her life, gave the child an acquaintance with New England dialect and character of which she was to make use later. As a girl her time was given chiefly to music. Her marriage took place while she was still very young. Shortly after her marriage a brother, who enjoyed her letters, urged her to write a story. The idea was entirely novel and not agreeable to the young woman, but the brother persisted for many months, and at last, in a spirit of impatience and in order to show him his absurdity, the work was undertaken. To Mrs. Bumham's surprise her scornful attitude soon changed to one of keen interest. She wrote two novelettes and paid to have them Criticised by the reader of a publishing house, her identity being unknown. The verdict was unfavorable, the reader going so far as to say that, if the author were of middle age, she would better abandon all hope of success as a writer. Mrs. Burnham was not "of middle age," and she w as as reluctant to lay down her pen as she .had been to take it up. Recalling her life-long facility for rhyming, she wrote some poems for children, which were accepted and published by " Wide Awake," and that success fixed her determination. She wrote "No Gentlemen" (Chicago, 1881) and offered it to a Chicago publisher. He examined it, said it would bean unsafe first book, and advised her to go home and write another. The author's father, who until that time had not regarded her work seriously, liked "No Gentlemen" and believed in it. Through his interest the book immediately found a publisher, and its success was instantaneous. Other books followed, "A Sane Lunatic" (Chicago, 1S82), "Dearly Bought" (Chicago, 1884), "Next Door" (Boston, 1886) "Young Maids and Old" (Boston, 1888), "The Mistress of Beech Knoll" (Boston, 1890). and "Miss Bagg's Secretary" (Boston. 1892). Besides her novels, Mrs. Burnham has written the text for several of Dr. Root's most successful cantatas, and contributed many poems and stories to "Youth's Companion," "St. Nicholas" and "Wide Awake." She resides with her father, and the windows of the room where she works command a wide view of Like Michigan, whose breezy blue waters serve her for refreshment, not inspiration. She does not believe in the latter for herself. She has a strong love for the profession thrust upon her, and sits down at her desk as regularly as the carpenter goes to his bench. Mrs. Burnham is a cultured pianist. She has no family.