Open main menu

HOLMES, Mrs. Mary Jane, novelist, was born in Brookfield, Mass. Her father was Preston Hawes, a man of intellect and a deep thinker. The Rev. Dr. Joel Hawes, one of the celebrated New England divines, was her father's older brother, and Mrs. Holmes seems to have largely partaken of the intellectual force, faith in human nature and insight into the moving springs and desires of the human heart, which were a family characteristic and MARY JANE HOLMES.jpgMARY JANE HOLMES. made her uncle's preaching so potent, searching and fruitful. From her mother she inherited hef romance, poetry and love of the beautiful. She is described as a precocious and sensitive child, more fond of her own companionship and dreaming out the pictures and fancies that came into her active mind than of associating with other children. Her imagination, the creative faculty, was alive almost in infancy, and at her earliest remembrance her little brain was buzzing with germs of what have since become her mental offspring. She went to school at three years of age and studied grammar at six. She was a quick student, and at the age of thirteen she was installed as the teacher of a district school a few miles from home. There she had a varied experience as the litde "sehoolmarm" with blue eyes and the golden hair, at whom the older boys looked first with contempt and later with still more embarrassing admiration and devotion. She was possessed with an inspiration to write, and saw her first article in print at fifteen. She became the wife of Daniel Holmes, a young lawyer of Richmond, N. Y.. and the union has proved an ideal marriage. Their home is in Brockport, N. Y., a flourishing town near Rochester. She has no children but is very fond of young people, especially girls, often giving them parlor talks upon art and other subjects connected with her foreign travel-., which have taken her over most of the Old World. As an author she has had a most happy career, with none of the trials which fall to the lot of so many writers, and her publishers have always been her friends. Appleton published her first book. G. W. Carleton has been her publisher for the past twenty years, but has recently sold out to the partner, Mr. Dillingham, who now has all her books. An estimate and comparison from the statistics of a wholesale bookstore, which supplies the trade of the upper half of the Mississippi Valley, show that, next to K. P. Roe's works, Mrs. Holmes' novels are the most popular of any American author. It is a fact that more than one-million copies of her books have been sold, and their popularity shows no sign of waning. A number of libraries find it necessary to keep twenty and thirty sets of her books on their shelves. Her success as an author is said by some to be the result of her powers of description; others assert that it is her naturalness, her clear, concise English and her faculty to hold the reader's sympathy from the beginning to the end; while others attribute it to the fact that mothers are willing their young daughters should read her books, knowing there is nothing in them but what is pure and elevating. The following is a list of some of her books: "Tempest and Sunshine" (1854), "English Orphans" (1855), "Homestead on the Hillside" (1855), "Lena Rivers" (1856), "Meadow Brook" (1857), "Dora Deane" (1858), "Cousin Maude" (1860), "Marian Gray" 186^, "Hugh Worthington" (1864), "Cameron Vide" (1867). "Rose Mather" (1868), "Ethelyn’s Mistake" (1869), "Edna Browning" (1872), "Mildred" (1877), "Forest House" (1879), "Daisy Thornton," "Queenie Hetherton" (1883), "Christmas Stories" (1884), "Bessie's Fortune" (1885). "Gretchen" (1887), "Marguerite" (1891), and in the recent past she has written a series of articles for different journals. The popularity of her books is shown in the fact that several of them, recently issued in paper rovers, have each sold to the number of fifty-thousand copies. Most of her novels are distinctively American, with an occasional digression to Europe, where she has spent a great deal of time.