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French, Alice (1850–1934)

French, Alice (1850–1934)

American author. Name variations: Octave Thanet, Frances Essex. Born Alice French, Mar 19, 1850, in Andover, Massachusetts; died Jan 9, 1934, in Davenport, Iowa; dau. of George Henry French and Frances Wood (Morton) French; lived with Jane Crawford for approximately 50 years.

Writing under pseudonym Octave Thanet, often opposed organized labor and women's suffrage for being against traditional American values; under pseudonym Frances Essex, published 1st short story in newspaper, Davenport Gazette (Feb 19, 1871); as Octave Thanet, published 1st notable short story, "Communists and Capitalists," based on railroad strike of 1877, in Lippincott's Magazine (Oct 1878); influenced by Social Darwinism, earned reputation as economic theorist with essays on labor and philanthropy; published collections of short stories, Knitters in the Sun (1887) and Otto the Knight (1891); authored 1st novel, Expiation (1890), based on the 1894 Pullman strike, followed by The Man of the Hour (1905), and the interventionist novelette And the Captain Answered (1917); compiled an edition of Lady Mary Wortley Montagu's letters (1890); received honorary degree from Iowa State University (1911); during WWI, was commander in Motor Car Service and organized Red Cross aid for Europe; served numerous times as president of Iowa Society of Colonial Dames.

See also George L. McMichael, Journey to Obscurity: The Life of Octave Thanet (1965).

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