EvelynWhitakerLibrary.org

K Cummings Pipes

Home
Anonymous Author Evelyn Whitaker
Biography: Evelyn Whitaker
The Buttercups
Two Letters
by the author of Honor Bright
Points of confusion
Collection Catalog
Topical Index
Digitized Titles by Evelyn Whitaker
Illustrators
Miss Toosey's Mission
Laddie & Lassie
Tip Cat
Letters to Our Working Party
Our Little Ann
Lil
Zoe
Pen
Pris
Rose and Lavender
Baby John
Don
Baby Bob
For the Fourth Time of Asking
Pomona
My Honey
Belle
Rob [Rob and Kit]
Tom's Boy
Faithful
Lassie & Laddie
Gay, a Story
K Cummings Pipes
Christ Church, San Pancras, Albany Street
The Woman Novelist as Theologian
Whitaker Citings
Links
Unlisted pages
The collection and this website are labors of love by a life-long reader of Victorian literature.  By profession, I am a librarian and my approach to this project is bibliographic.  My purpose is to dust off the books written by my favorite author and share them with a new generation of readers.
December 2007 - with my Sheltie, Mandy,
kandmandyimg_0612.jpg
Like most proper Victorian ladies, including Evelyn Whitaker, I have a "fancy" for dogs.
 
Through the years I have read many Victorian novels by the famous and the not so famous.  I find myself uncommonly and deeply touched by the words of the anonymous author of Miss Toosey's Mission, Laddie, Tip Cat, Gay, Zoe, Faithful, My Honey, Lassie, etc. etc.
My other literary interests include Gerard Manley Hopkins, church hymns written by Victorian women,  the literary & structural criticism of biblical Psalms, and a passion for reading practically anything in print.  My reading lists and other resources that do not pertain directly to EveynWhitakerLibrary.org my be explored on my Web Blog.

Vist my blog: The Life I Read

The Life I Read is also available at blogspot.com Clicking this link will open a new browser window.

 
 
A book in the hand: 
the story of the collection... 
  by K Cummings Pipes  copyright 2007
         Antiquing with my mother and sister on Boxing Day 2003, I noticed a book.  Its green cloth cover, embossed and gilded with Easter lilies, attracted my eye.  I picked up the little book for a closer look.  As sometimes happens with an antique object, usually a book, it felt at home in my hand.  I opened the volume at random and read:

 

          Reader, think of some lovely picture of rustic life, with tender lights and pleasant shadows, with hard lines softened, and sharp angles touched into gentle curves, with a background of picturesque, satisfying appropriateness, with the magic touches that bring out the beauty and refinement and elegance of  the scene, which are really there, and that subtly tone down all the roughness and awkwardness and coarseness, which are also equally there.   [Laddie, opening sentence, chapter 3]

 

          I was completely smitten.  I read the sentence again, aloud this time, to my mother who was equally charmed.   The writing was well-crafted with a poetic beauty that is seldom seen.  I turned to the title page to see who had written these lovely words. 

The citation:

 

 [no author]:  Miss Toosey's Mission and Laddie

 Chicago:  Montgomery Ward & Co. Publishers, [n.d.].

  5 p. + 82 p.,      illus. 

  inscribed by previous owner:   "Pauline from Auntie."

 

          I judged the book to be late Victorian—the cover had a William Morris look to it—perhaps one of those ubiquitous gift books for children.  Or, it might be one of those little novels with religious themes, that were given as Sunday School prizes, often attendance awards.   I had seen many such volumes during my years as a librarian and while indulging a habit of browsing through dusty, musty old books in corner shops and antique stores.  Somehow, this one touched me as few others have.  Was it the art of the binding?  The elegant purity of the prose?  The sweetness of the sentiments?  Perhaps, it was merely the pleasure I took in the company of my mother and my sister.

          The fact that such writing was published anonymously piqued my interest.  Who had written those words and eschewed acclaim by publishing anonymously?  I bought the book ($8.50), as much for its mystery as its content.

          So began my collection although I hadn't then decided quite what I was collecting:  books with ornate Victorian bindings, books by a particular anonymous author, or information.  Since that day I have found myself collecting all three.  I simply fell in love with "the author of  Miss Toosey's Mission, Laddie, Tip Cat, etc. etc." * and I remain intrigued by the mystery of the writer's life.

          I began my search with the catalogs of the Library of Congress and of the British Library, followed by an OCLC search.  I quickly identified the anonymous author as Evelyn Whitaker (1857-1903)  and noted a number of additional titles, with publication dates between 1879 and 1915.  The later dates, following 1903, appeared to be mostly reissues of Miss Toosey's Mission and Laddie and were often part of series:

 The Sunshine Library[, The Editha Series, The Golden Books,  Young Folks Library, Every Boy's Library [H.M. Caldwell];  Love and Friendship, Things Worthwhile.

 

      I acquired and read more "Miss Toosey books" and continued searching for information about the author, Evelyn Whitaker. 

      I quickly realized that over the years I had held in my hand several copies of books by Evelyn Whitaker, usually attracted  by the bindings.  I regret not having bought the copy of  what was surely Miss Toosey's Mission with a lovely cover color lithograph of an old woman in  a rocker with a handsome young man kneeling at her feet.  It was undoubtedly a companion to the edition of Laddie published by Ward & Lock which I found for the collection.  I also regret passing on a copy of Rose and Lavender; it had a binding incongruously printed with violets or pansies.   

     Having bought that first volume of Laddie, I spent two years browsing  through ye olde shoppes and cruising eBay & on-line book sellers.  I acquired a copy of Belle, the final title to be added to the collection in January 2006.  Of course, no collection is ever complete and there is always one more book from a different publisher or with a pretty cover or by a related author.

          As I worked on this project and began to read the Evelyn Whitaker novels, I realized that I had rediscovered an old friend.  I first read books by Evelyn Whitaker in my childhood.   Having just finished 3rd grade [1958], I was given access to many old books from my grandparents' bookshelves and discovered Gay: a story.   I had just begun piano lessons and strongly identified with Mrs. Frampton.  There was also a diphtheria epidemic among the transient farm labor population in the area so the story seemed to me quite timely.

     Some years later, probably just after 6th grade, my grandparents asked me to clean out an old trunk filled with papers.  There I found crumbling copies of old periodicals dating from the turn of the century and earlier.  A few held together long enough for me to read them.  Among them was For the Fourth Time of Asking

        I also remember at least an excerpt from My Honey—the end of the 7th and the 8th chapters about the stray dog which Hetty adopts.  It may have been in those crumbling periodicals from the old trunk but I rather think it was in an anthology of dog stories.  In the 4th grade I was a great reader of books about dogs; Albert Payson Terhune was the first author whose name I learned.

          I have become increasingly intrigued with Evelyn Whitaker, a writer whose appeal was not lost on a little West Texas farm girl nor on the woman she grew up to be and definitely not on the large numbers of those who read her works when they were first published.  

          I believe that these novels are a neglected resource which can be of use to students and teachers of literature, history, sociology and other disciplines.

          Evelyn Whitaker observes, describes, and comments upon advances in transportation, education, literacy, public health, nursing, and the increasing opportunities available to children of the lower and middle classes—all in very readable prose that is touched with humor and poetic beauty.  

          For the scholar, Evelyn Whitaker's novels are a rich mine of information.   For the lover of well-written prose, they are as they were more than a century ago "a study in English for its conciseness, simplicity, and elegance."   As they did more than a century ago, each book will entertain  the casual reader with "a charming story, well told," "a simple and wholesomely delightful tale, one which" may be "indeed a love story, but is at the same time a picture of life that is far more."

 

Quotes in the final paragraph are from publishers' blurbs.

Evelyn Whitaker Library is a physical archive of print materials concerning a late Victorian author. This website is a digital exhibition of that archive. It is also the place where I publish the results of my research into the life and writings of Evelyn Whitaker.
I strive to comply with copyright law.  I believe all the quotations and illustrations on this website are either in the public domain or comply with standards of fair use.  My original materials, including my synopses, my notes on Victorian life, and articles bearing my byline,  are copyrighted. 
Permission is hereby granted for non-profit use which should include a citation to this website.
K Cummings Pipes. Evelyn Whitaker Library. http://www.evelynwhitakerlibrary.org/
 
If you are a scholar and need a hard copy citation to this information please contact me.
If you make use of this material, I'd appreciate a note as a courtesy. Thank you.