Published August 9, 2020
Celebrate National Book Lovers Day with these Gene Stratton-Porter best-sellers
Although an unofficial holiday, bibliophiles across the nation celebrate National Book Lovers Day on Aug. 9 by picking up a beloved novel – or by finding a new favorite.
To help you celebrate National Book Lovers Day, we wanted to highlight some well-known works by Indiana’s most widely read female author – Gene Stratton-Porter. Throughout her life, Gene wrote 12 novels, including best-sellers Freckles, A Girl of the Limberlost and Laddie.
But you may not be as familiar with one of her other novels. The Magic Garden was published years after Gene’s death in 1924.
Read more to remember a beloved book – or just maybe find a new favorite or two.
Freckles, Gene’s second published novel, follows the journey of the title character who is attempting to find his place in the world. Yearning for fulfillment from useful work, Freckles leaves Chicago for the Limberlost Swamp where he finds a job guarding a valuable stand of timber, appreciation for the beauty of the wetlands and love for a kind and gentle girl he nicknames his “Swamp Angel.”
Experience the Limberlost Swamp through Freckles’ viewpoint but also learn why Gene wanted to share the wetlands with the world. Gene’s writing in this book gained the Indiana native many fans and caused readers to fall in love with her storytelling and descriptions of her beloved Limberlost Swamp.
A Girl of the Limberlost
As with many of her novels, Gene wrote of the things and people she experienced in life. This 1909 novel follows Freckles and contains a few of the same characters. Many readers even believe one of the characters – the Bird Woman – is based on Gene herself. This novel also introduces Elnora, who has a similar love of the Limberlost Swamp and its beauty as Freckles. The story follows Elnora’s pursuits to accomplish what she sets out to do and receive the education she craves by gathering specimens from the swamp for the Bird Woman.
One of Gene’s most popular novels, many readers remember A Girl of the Limberlost from their childhood. Listed by J.K. Rowling as one of her top five favorite books, this book still holds the heart of many readers today.
Laddie is the closest thing to an autobiography that Gene ever wrote. She even stated once that it is the story of her childhood, even down to the conversations written in the book.
Laddie tells the story of “Little Sister,” the youngest in a family of 11 children. Through the novel – first published in 1913 – the nature-loving main character tells readers of her family, the joys of growing up in the country and of the brother who loved her most. Although Laddie has a much different ending in real life, it is one of Gene’s most beloved books.
The Magic Garden
The Magic Garden is one of Gene’s lesser-known novels as it was published following her death. It tells the story of John Guido and Amaryllis. John introduces Amaryllis to the magic garden as a young girl. Although John eventually leaves the garden, the novel follows Amaryllis’ life and love for John as she grows up, taking readers through Amaryllis’ joys and sorrows.
The novel – which was completed before her death in 1924 at age 61 – was published in 1927.
Learn more about Gene, her novels and her work as a naturalist during a visit to her home and cabin in Indiana. Discover the wetlands that inspired the Hoosier author, photographer and naturalist, and explore the home where she wrote her first novel at Limberlost State Historic Site. Plus, experience the natural beauty of Gene Stratton-Porter State Historic Site – Gene’s Rome City cabin on the shores of Sylvan Lake, where you can enjoy the 35-bed formal garden that Gene designed and planted herself.