Josephine Lawrence--Children's Books Man in the Moon Stories


Other children's books

While working for the Syndicate, Lawrence also found time to author children's stories independently. One of her earliest efforts was the 'Man in the Moon' stories which were broadcast bi-weekly in 1921 by the Sunday Call and published in book form a year later with illustrations by Johnny Gruelle. One source notes that the stories "often mentioned particular children [from Newark] by name and admonished them to 'eat spinach like a good boy and go to bed when mother says so.'"; another credits her "with having written the first story for children ever broadcast."

Brother-Sister Glenna cover Drawing on her experience with the Stratemeyer Syndicate, Lawrence soon created her own (non-Syndicate) series. The initial three volumes of her first effort, Brother and Sister, appeared in 1921 and chronicled the everyday adventures of the youngest two children in a large family. The following year, in addition to continuing that series, she wrote Rosemary, a girls' story, which was later marketed as part of the "Josephine Lawrence Stories for Girls". Although the character of Rosemary appeared in two later books, Rainbow Hill (1924) and Rosemary and the Princess (1927), the "Josephine Lawrence Stories for Girls" were primarily stories without continuing characters or any connection among volumes (except for the use of female protagonists). Here, Lawrence was able to experiment with other types of fiction, often portraying girls facing more challenging problems than those in the comfortable worlds of Honey Bunch or Sunny Boy. Individual responsibility -- adapting to changed circumstances, developing responsiblity, learning greater self-control -- are often key elements in these books. In Rosemary, the story begins when Rosemary's invalid mother is sent to a sanatorium to rest for a year, and Rosemary and her siblings, worried about their parent and accustomed to her leniency, must adjust to additional household duties and to their uncle's stricter expectations. In Glenna, a high school girl sharing an apartment with her sister learns to manage on her own after an accident hospitalizes her sibling.

ElizAnn Kiddie Farmers In 1923, Lawrence created yet another series, Elizabeth Ann, again for younger girls, this time about a child learning to adapt to different household patterns when she is sent from relative to relative while her parents are abroad; two years later, in 1925, Lawrence launched the Linda Lane series for older girls, about an assertive orphan adopted by a seamstress (a concept she revisited, less optimistically, in a later adult work, Amiable Meddlers [1961]). Two years later, she developed Two Little Fellows, another series for tots.

During this period, one of her publishers, Cupples & Leon, also began issuing some of her short stories in book form, one story per book, as the Kiddie Wonder series. In 1928, nine more of her short stories appeared as the Toyland series, which focused on the adventures of a group of toys and animals, with several crossovers among volumes. That same year, Lawrence also wrote another non-series title, Peggy and Polly's Pictures, and added volumes to four of her existing series, all the while continuing both her Syndicate fiction and her duties at the Newark Sunday Call.

Gingerbread Man Perry and Polly One reason Lawrence was able to accomplish such a prodigious amount of writing was her work ethic, revealed through her strict daily regimen. Interviewers rarely failed to mention her work habits, which varied little over the years. In 1932, one reporter wrote: "she arises every weekday morning at 5:45 o'clock, walks two and a half miles to the office regardless of the weather, works there until 5 P. M. and walks home. From 7 P.M. to 10 P.M. her typewriter at home clicks industriously, turning out page after page of manuscript."[7] Fourteen years later, another interviewer described almost exactly the same schedule -- this despite her marriage and move to New York: "she gets up five mornings a week at 5 in her Greenwich Village apartment to reach her office . . . at 7. Home by 5:30, she writes from 7 to 10." [8]

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[8]"Books and the Arts." Newark Sunday Call, 8 September 1946.

Copyright 1999 - Deidre Johnson