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Woman of the Century/Isabella Macdonald Alden

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ALDEN, Mrs. Isabella Macdonald, author, born in Rochester, N. Y., 3d November. 1841. Her maiden name was Macdonald. While she was still a child, her father moved to Johnstown, N. Y., and afterwards to Gloversville, in the same State. Her pen-name "Pansy," by which she is known so widely, was given to her by her father on the occasion when Isabella, a mere child, had plucked every blossom from a treasured bed of pansies grown by her mother. As the child showered ISABELLA MACDONALD ALDEN.jpgISABELLA MACDONALD ALDEN. blossoms in her mother's lap, she said they were "every one for her," and Mr. Macdonald gave her the name which has become so famous. Her father and mother, both persons of intellect and education, encouraged her in every way in her literary work, and her progress was very rapid. When she was only ten years old, she wrote a story about an old family clock which suddenly stopped after running many years, and her father had it published. As a girl, Isabella was an aspiring and industrious author. She wrote stories, sketches, compositions, and a diary in which she recorded all the important events of her life. Her articles were accepted and published in the village papers, and "Pansy" began to be known. Her first book was published when she was yet a mere girl. A publishing house offered a prize for the best Sunday-school book upon a given subject. She wrote "Helen Lester," a small book for young people, partly to amuse herself, and sent the manuscript to the publishers, not expecting to hear from it again. To her surprise the committee selected her book as the best of those received. From that time her pen has never been idle. More than sixty volumes bear the name "Pansy," and all are good, pure books for young and old alike. Miss Macdonald was married in May, 1866, to the Rev. G. R. Alden, and she is a success as a pastor's wife. She composes easily. Her mornings are given to literary work. Some of her books are: "Esther Reid," "Four Girls at Chautauqua," "Chautauqua Girls at Home," "Tip Lewis and His Lamp," "Three People," "Links in Rebecca's Life," "Julia Reid," "Ruth Erskine's Crosses," "The King's Daughter," "The Browning Boys," "From Different Standpoints," "Mrs. Harry Harper's Awakening," and "The Pocket Measure." Story-writing by no means is all her work. She writes the primary lesson department of the "Westminister Teacher," edits the "Presbyterian Primary Quarterly" and the children's popular magazine "Pansy," and writes a serial story for the "Herald and Presbyter" of Cincinnati every winter. Mrs. Alden is deeply interested in Sunday-school primary teaching, and has had charge of more than a hundred children every Sunday for many years. She is interested in temperance also, but delicate health and a busy life hinder her from taking an active part in the work. She gives liberally to the cause, and four of her books, "Three People," "The King's Daughter," "One Commonplace Day," and "Little Fishers and their Nets," are distinctively temperance books, while the principle of total abstinence is maintained in all her writings. Mrs. Alden is a constant sufferer from headache, which never leaves her and is often very severe, but she refuses to call herself an invalid. She is a model housekeeper in every way. Her physician limits her to three hours of literary work each day. The famous Chautauqua system of instruction is warmly advocated by her. She has been prominently identified with that movement from its beginning. Her books are peculiarly adapted to the youth of this country. Most of them have been adopted in Sunday-school libraries throughout the United States. Rev. and Mrs. Alden are now pleasantly located in Washington, D. C.