Monday, November 19, 2007

Artists of Lanesville - NANCY HALE

This excerpt is from A Village at Lane's Cove by Barbara H Erkkila recently reprinted and available through Ten Pound Island Book Company. Barbara was the best chronicler of Lanesville and also authored the book Hammers on Stone-The History of Cape Ann Granite available in bookshops around Rockport and Gloucester, and The Cape Ann Museum giftshop.

There’s a feeling of great independence of spirit, a humorous insight into people’s frailties and a down-to-earth understanding of New England living woven into the writings of Nancy Hale, distinguished author who summered at Folly Cove. She had been coming to the family studio, built by her great-aunt, pioneer artist Ellen Day Hale, since she was two years old. The author died of a stroke in September 1988.

Miss Hale was born in Boston May 6, 1908 and attended the Winsor School. She studied art at the school of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, for all her family were artists. But writing had been her forte since she wrote her first novel at the age of twenty-two. An exciting period in her life was the time when she was the first woman reporter on the staff of the New York Times in 1934, assigned to “follow” Eleanor Roosevelt-a real challenge to any member of the press. She had been an assistant editor at Vogue and Vanity Fair, and in 1974 won the Sarah-Josepha Hale Award given by the Friends Library in Newport, New Hampshire. (The name of the award was a coincidence.)

Her book A New England Girlhood has been particularly enjoyed in Lanesville for the description of rocky shores, open fields with wild flowers and the special smell of the sea at night in summer when all windows are open to salty breezes.

In the 1940s Miss Hale married Professor Fredson Bowers of Charlottesville, Virginia, an authority on seventeenth-century English drama.

When Miss Hale suffered her first stroke, she made a valiant recovery, standing tall and maintaining her usual distinctive presence, even though it was an effort to walk and she tired easily. She appears to have been the last of the proper Bostonian writers.

Among Miss Hale’s books are New England Girlhood, The Prodigal Women, The Sign of Jonah, The Young Die Good, Never Any More, The Earliest Dreams, Between the Dark and the Daylight, The Pattern of Perfection, The Empressy Ring, Dear Beast, Black Summer, and Heaven and Hardpan Farm.


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