Authors who wrote for their own children
Christopher Morley (1890-1957) was a prolific American journalist, novelist, essayist, and poet. He is probably best known today for his first two novels, Parnassus on Wheels (1917) and The Haunted Bookshop (1919). The Haunted Bookshop remains a popular representative of the bibliomystery genre—mystery stories with settings in the world of books and libraries.
Morley was a columnist for the New York Evening Post and one of the founders and a longtime contributing editor of the Saturday Review of Literature. A lover of Sherlock Holmes stories, he helped found The Baker Street Irregulars, an organization of Conan Doyle enthusiasts that is still active and publishes The Baker Street Journal. Morley also wrote the introduction to the standard omnibus edition of The Complete Sherlock Holmes.
Among his myriad contributions to 20th century American literature and popular culture, we might not guess that Morley also wrote for young readers. In 1920, he and his wife established a permanent residence they called "Green Escape" in Roslyn Estates on Long Island, New York. Their home forms the setting for his 1927 book, I Know a Secret, which was written for and about his four children and their pets, including the character seen here on the title page, Escargot the snail.
In this way, Morley joins the ranks of authors such as A. A. Milne and Jean de Brunhoff, who wrote books for (and inspired by) their own children. Like Morley, A. A. Milne did not start out as a children’s author; he was primarily a playwright before the huge success of Winnie-the-Pooh overshadowed his previous work. His characters were based on his young son, Christopher Robin Milne, and his son’s collection of stuffed-animal toys. Brunhoff’s writing career, on the other hand, started at home with his young children. The Babar stories began as tales that Brunhoff’s wife, Cécile Sabourad, invented to entertain their two sons. When the boys asked their father, who was a painter, to create illustrations for their mother’s stories, the enormously popular Babar picture books were born.
It is a fun discovery to bring these lesser-known works by Christopher Morley to light. They may not have achieved the same level of commercial success as the Babar or Winnie-the-Pooh books, but these are charming stories that provide insight into the author’s personality and private life.
Morley, Christopher, 1890-1957
Garden City, New York: Doubleday, Doran & Company
Garden City, New York: Doubleday, Page & Company
Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott Company
1922; 1927; 1932
Kent State University
Special Collections and Archives
|LC Classification Number||
PS3525.O71 G6 1932
PS3525.O71 I2 1927
PS3525.O71 W46 1922
Dust jacket front
Dust jacket front
Title page and frontispiece
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Curated by Kathleen Siebert Medicus with guest contributors