Woman of the Century/Ellen Olney Kirk
KIRK, Mrs. Ellen Olney, novelist, born in Southington, Conn., 6th November, 1842. Her maiden name was Ellen Warner Olney. ELLEN OLNEY KIRK. She removed with her parents a few years after her birth to Stratford-on-the-Sound, an old Connecticut town. Her father, Jesse Olney, who for some time held the office of State comptroller, was widely known as the author of a number of text-books, esperially of a "Geography and Atlas," published in 1828, which passed through nearly a hundred editions and was long a standard work in American schools. Her mother is a sister of the late A. S. Barnes, the New York publisher. Mrs. Kirk had from her childhood a passionate love for literature. and in writing she obeyed an imperative instinct, but with little desire for an audience, she made no precocious attempts to reach the public, and it was not until after the death of her father, in 1872, that she took up systematic literary work, and her first published novel was "Love in Idleness," which appeared as a serial in "Lippincott's Magazine," during the summer of 1876. Another and more thoughtful novel, "Through Winding Ways," followed in the same periodical. In 1879 Miss Olney became the wife of John Foster Kirk, author of the "History of Charles the Bold," and at that time editor of "Lippincott's Magazine." Since her first appearance in print, writing has been with her a daily and regular work. She is an industrious worker. Since her marriage she has resided in Germantown, a suburb of Philadelphia. Two of her books have their scenes laid in that region, "Sons and Daughters" (Boston, 1887), with its inimitable Shakespeare Club and its picture of the pleasures and perplexities of youth, and "A Midsummer Madness" (Boston, 1884). The full expression of Mrs Kirk's talent is to be looked for in her novels of New York life, which not only deal with the motives which actuate men and women of that town, but offer free play for her clear and accurate characterization, her humor and her brilliant comedy. The first of these was " A Lesson in Love" (Boston, 1881). "The Story of Margaret Kent" (Boston, 1886) is now in its fortieth edition. This was an adaptation to a different phase of life of the situation in "Better Times." one of Mrs. Kirk's early tales, which gives its title to the volume of short stories published in 1887. Her other novels are "Queen Money" (Boston, 1888), "A Daughter of Eve" (Boston, 1889), " Walfred " (Boston, 1890), "Narden's Choosing" (Philadelphia, 1891), and "Cyphers" (Boston. 1891).