Bailey, (Irene) Temple

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BAILEY, (Irene) Temple

Born circa 1869, Petersburg, Virginia; died 6 July 1953, Washington, D.C.

Daughter of Milo Varnum and Emma Sprague Bailey

Many of Temple Bailey's short stories and essays appeared in magazines, and her novels came out at regular intervals for several decades. All of her writing was amazingly popular. Several years before her death it was estimated that 3,000,000 copies of her books had been sold. She was also one of the highestpaid writers in the world; for one serial she received $60,000 from McCall's magazine, and from Cosmopolitan$325,000 for three serials and several short stories.

Reasons for her popularity can be surmised from the comments of critics and reviewers: she gave her readers the relaxation and pleasure of entering a delightful world where everything comes out right for the good and the true. Bailey upholds all the conventional standards of morality, and dramatizes, over and over again, her thesis that the rewards of virtue are many, lavish, and sure. "She writes of life as she would like to have it, rather than life as it is," says one critic, and another characterizes one of her novels as "high-flown romance with a bland disregard for realities."

It is tempting to speculate as to the cause of her absorption in a bright Never-Never Land. We might find it in the fact that she herself was, from her birth, protected from the grimmer aspects of life. She may on the other hand have been shrewd enough to recognize that the average schoolgirl and housewife hunger for glamour, romance, gaiety, and a satisfying solution to every problem. Setting herself to provide these, she found a goal for a long and lucrative career. A successful business woman, she retained her solid background of Presbyterianism and Republicanism.

Reviews of her novels combine weak praise and outright disparagement, with certain words recurring many times: "wholesome," "sweet," "sentimental," and, perhaps most devastating of all, "harmless" and "innocuous." On the plus side, Bailey is credited with skill in characterization and in devising of plots. Most of her fiction is concerned with young love, but at times she wrote of children, or of lonely people. Her style is clear and smooth, and she was fond of describing nature, elegantly furnished rooms, and beautiful clothes. She is to be respected for her careful craftsmanship.

Other Works:

Judy (1907). Glory of Youth (1913). Contrary Mary (1915). Mistress Anne (1917). Adventures in Girlhood (1917). The Tin Soldier (1919). The Trumpeter Swan (1920). The Gay Cockade (1921). The Dim Lantern (1923). Peacock Feathers (1924). The Holly Hedge (1925). The Blue Window (1926). Wallflowers (1927). Silver Slippers (1928). Burning Beauty (1929). Wild Wind (1930). So This is Christmas (1931). Little Girl Lost (1932). Enchanted Ground (1933). The Radiant Tree (1934). Fair As the Moon (1935). I've Been to London (1937). Tomorrow's Promise (1938). The Blue Cloak (1941). The Pink Camellia (1942). Red Fruit (1945).


Reference Works:

Notable Boston Authors, Flagg, M., ed. (1960).

Other reference:

Newsweek (20 July 1953). NYT (8 July 1953). PW (24 June 1933). Time (20 July 1953). WLB (Sept. 1953).