Andrews, Mary (Raymond) Shipman

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ANDREWS, Mary (Raymond) Shipman

Born 2 April 1860, Mobile, Alabama; died 2 August 1936, Syracuse, New York

Daughter of Jacob Shaw and Ann Louise Gold Johns Shipman; married William Shankland Andrews, 1884; children: Paul Shipman Andrews

Mary Shipman Andrews, a popular fiction writer of the early 20th century, was raised and educated in Lexington, Kentucky, the oldest child of an Episcopalian minister. Her husband was a lawyer who later became a distinguished judge. Andrews lived most of her married life in Syracuse, New York, spending her summers in the family's wilderness camp in Quebec, which provided the setting for much of her fiction. Her only son, Paul Shipman Andrews, became dean of the College of Law of Syracuse University.

Andrews' first published story, "Crowned with Glory and Honor" (1902), appeared in Scribner's Magazine, and it was in the short story genre that she was to achieve distinction. From 1902 until 1929 her many stories appeared, chiefly in Scribner's, but also in other leading journals. Most of these stories were later published in book form, in such collections as The Militants (1907), The Eternal Masculine (1913), and The Eternal Feminine (1916). Some of her best known stories, such as The Perfect Tribute (1906), appeared first in Scribner's and were later published as separate books. She also wrote novels, notably The Marshal (1912), a historical novel set in Napoleonic times; a book of World War I poetry, Crosses of War (1918); and a biography of Florence Nightingale, A Lost Commander (1929). However, it is her short tales which are of interest to the literary historian.

Andrews' bestselling book The Perfect Tribute, illustrates the qualities of her writing that accounted for her popularity with her contemporaries but which have resulted in her obscurity today. This fictional account of Abraham Lincoln's disappointment over the reception of his Gettysburg Address was the first of several Lincoln stories written by Andrews. The tale is embellished with Andrews' own "historical facts" and is a sentimental tale of Lincoln's aid to a dying young Confederate soldier, through whom Lincoln learns of the true greatness of his speech. Bathos, didacticism, and superpatriotism characterize this story, whose hero, Captain Blair, is virtually interchangeable with the young, handsome, perfect heroes of many of Andrews' other works. Yet, the author's instinct for drama, her sincerity, and her vivid description of Lincoln caused contemporary critics to overlook the story's faults. The book went into many printings, eventually selling more than 600,000 copies. It has been often anthologized, and its version of Lincoln has been read by thousands of American schoolchildren.

In addition to her successful Lincoln tales, Andrews wrote a variety of stories which exemplify the types of magazine fiction popular with the American reader of the early 1900s. Whereas the stories varied in content from love stories to adventure yarns to patriotic war tales, they shared the common traits of superficiality, sentimentality, and melodrama—along with the ability to entertain the reader. The best of them were her outdoor stories, many of which appeared in two collections, Bob and the Guides (1906), written for and about young boys, and The Eternal Masculine, for adults. These stories of hunting, fishing, and camping adventures have a vitality which stems from Andrews' own love of the outdoors; in them, melodrama is kept to a minimum.

Although most of Andrews' fiction features male protagonists and takes place in the so-called masculine worlds of the courtroom, the battlefield, and the wilderness, she wrote several stories from a woman's point of view. Most of them are collected in The Eternal Feminine, and vary in quality from the simplistic title story to the moving "A Play to the Gallery."

In her last years, Andrews realized that the audience for her type of writing was declining and tried, unsuccessfully, to develop a more modern approach. In themselves the stories have little appeal for the modern reader; their interest lies primarily in their reflection of popular literary taste of the early 20th century.

Other Works:

Vive L'Empereur (1902). A Kidnapped Colony (1903). A Good Samaritan (1906). The Enchanted Forest (1909). Counsel Assigned (1912). August First (with R. I. Murray, 1915). Three Things (1915). Old Glory (1916). Joy in the Morning (1919). His Soul Goes Marching On (1922). Pontifex Maximus (1925). White Satin Dress (1930).

Bibliography:

Hopkins, J. G. E., The Scribner Treasury (1953).

Reference Works:

The Junior Book of Authors, S. J. Kunitz, and H. Haycraft, eds. (1934). NAW, 1607-1950 (1971). Twentieth Century Authors, S. J. Kunitz, and H. Haycraft, eds. (1942).

Other reference:

Newsweek (17 Oct. 1936). NYT (3 Aug. 1936).

—MARLENE KONDELIK