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Janvier, Margaret Thompson

JANVIER, Margaret Thompson

Born February 1844, New Orleans, Louisiana; died February 1913, Moorestown, New Jersey

Wrote under: Margaret Vandegrift

Daughter of Francis de Haes and Emma Newbold Janvier

Born into a literary family of Huguenot descent, Margaret Thompson Janvier was educated at home and in New Orleans public schools, but she lived most of her life in Moorestown, New Jersey. Consistently using her pseudonym, she wrote children's literature, stories, and verse from 1879 until near her death. Her work appeared in popular magazines such as St. Nicholas, Harper's Young People, Youth's Companion, Wide Awake, Century, Atlantic, and Scribner's.

Janvier's verse appealed to adults as well as to children. The popular title poem of The Dead Doll, and Other Verses (1889) is a "babytalk" lament of a child for her doll. One of her best poems is "To Lie in the Lew" (Scriber's, April 1913).

Her prose work includes sentimental family tales and adventure stories of teenage protagonists, as well as more whimsical tales of fairies and princesses for younger children. The family stories include Clover Beach (1880), about the activities of a family of children at a summer resort, and Rose Raymond's Wards (1885), a story of New England family life. The Queen's Body-Guard (1883) chronicles how the widowed and financially destitute Mrs. Stanley decides, with her seven children, to live on an old farm in Delaware. The invariably good-natured and morally upright family members mature and some marry—happily, of course—even with the "queen," Mrs. Stanley, as a live-in mother-in-law.

Doris and Theodora (1884) is a curious combination of a teenage maturation story and a historical adventure. From the fifteen-year-old Doris' jealousy of her baby sister, Janvier progresses predictably to teenage romance and marriage, but the background setting of Santa Cruz is enlivened with a melodramatic handling of the slave revolt, the subsequent financial failure and fatal illness of Doris' father, and the entrepreneurship of Doris and her young friends in coping with economic mishap.

Stories for younger readers include fantasies such as Umbrellas to Mend (1905), an allegorically oriented romance of princes and princesses, and The Absent-Minded Fairy (1884), which charmingly shows the moral education of Dulcintentia (good intentions) as she meddles in human affairs. In the realistically set Little Helpers (1889), the young children of the lively and affectionate Leslie family learn moral lessons for character development, such as being independent but listening to parents and following God's law. Janvier's books are often sentimental and unrealistic for modern readers; they succeed best with whimsy and fantasy.

Other Works:

The Original Chatterbox Album of Animals (1879). Under the Dog-Star (1881). Holidays at Home: For Boys and Girls (1882). Little Bell, and Other Stories (1884). Santa Claus's Picture Gallery (1886). Ways and Means (1886).


Reference works: AA. DAB. NCAB.


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