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Carroll, Gladys Hasty

CARROLL, Gladys Hasty

Born 26 June 1904, Rochester, New Hampshire

Daughter of Warren and Frances Hasty; married Herbert Carroll, 1925

Growing up in South Berwick, Maine, Gladys Hasty was educated at Bates College, where she graduated in 1925. That same year she married Herbert Carroll, who became a professor of psychology at the University of New Hampshire. Carroll has been awarded honorary degrees from Bates College, the University of New Hampshire, and the University of Maine.

Carroll's most famous book is As the Earth Turns (1933), a story of the Shaw family. A selection of the Book-of-the-Month Club, it was second on the fiction bestseller list, and was translated into many languages. The heroine of As the Earth Turns, Jen Shaw, is an "earth mother", slow, calm, and capable. Together with her father, Mark, Jen holds the Shaw family together. Mark lives for his farm work, and Jen apparently lives for her housework: "if there's anything I like, it's cleaning something awful dirty!" The action of the story focuses on various family crises and the relationship between the Shaws and the Janowskis, a Polish family newly moved into the area. As the Earth Turns was filmed by Warner in 1934. Directed by Alfred Green, the production starred Jean Muir and Donald Woods as Jen and Stan, with David Landau playing Mark Shaw. The New York Times reviewed it favorably.

After the 1930s, Carroll's novels are of little interest. Most of them are preachy, often centering on conservative women residing in Maine. One of her later novels, Man on the Mountain (1969), is a science fiction social satire, showing how America is destroying itself. A constant theme is cultural tolerance, whether it be of Poles, Irish Catholics, or French Canadians.

Of more interest are her autobiographical works, beginning with Dunnybrook (1943), a social history of South Berwick from its founding to World War II. Only Fifty Years Ago (1962) is the story of her childhood; To Remember Forever (1963) is a journal of a year at Bates College. The Years Away from Home (1972) tells of her early married life through 1933. These autobiographical works, like her later novels, are repetitious and laced throughout with World War II poster-style patriotism, but they can serve as documents of local and cultural history.

Carroll used her novels to express her own conservative Republican, rural, New England values, but much of her work cannot be rated as literature. She is a writer who had one major theme: the spell of the land, and she wrote it out in her first three novels. As the Earth Turns is a great popular novel, however, and it fully deserves its acclaim.

Other Works:

Cockatoo (1929). Land Spell (1930, reissued as A Few Foolish Ones, 1935). Neighbor to the Sky (1937). Head of the Line (1942). While the Angels Sing (1947). West of the Hill (1949). Christmas Without Johnny (1950). One White Star (1954). Sing Out the Glory (1957). Come With Me Home (1960). The Road Grows Strange (1965). The Light Here Kindled (1967). Next of Kin (1974). Unless You Die Young (1977).

Bibliography:

Hall, V. S., "Down East Today" (thesis, 1938). Nation (21 June 1933). NYT (7 May 1933). SRL (6 May 1933).

—BEVERLY SEATON

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