Bailey, Carolyn Sherwin (1875–1961)

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Bailey, Carolyn Sherwin (1875–1961)

Author and editor of children's books. Born October 25, 1875, in Hoosick Falls, New York; died on December 24, 1961, in Concord, Massachusetts; one of two daughters of Charles Henry (a scientist and traveler) and Emma Frances (Blanchard) Bailey (a teacher and writer); educated at home until age 12; attended Lansingburgh Academy, near Albany, New York; graduated from Teachers College, Columbia University, 1896; attended Montessori School (Rome), and the New York School of Social Work; married Eben Clayton Hill, in 1936.

Selected works:

Daily Programs of Gift and Occupation Work (1904); For the Children's Hour (1906); The Jungle Primer (1906); Firelight Stories (1907); For the Story Teller (1913); Every Child's Folk Songs and Games (1914); Montessori Children(1915); Letting in the Gang (1916); The Way of the Gate (1917); Once Upon a Time Animal Stories (1918); The Outdoor Story Book (1918); Broad Stripes and Bright Stars (1919); Folk Tales and Fables (1919); Legends from Many Lands (1919); The Enchanted Bugle and Other Stories (1920); The Torch of Courage (1921); Flint, The Story of a Trail (1922); When Grandfather Was a Boy (1923); Boys and Girls of Pioneer Days (1924); In the Animal World (1924); Stories from an Indian Cave (1924); The Wonderful Tree and Golden Day Stories (1925); Boys and Girls of Discovery Days (1926); The Wonderful Window (1926); Garden, Orchard and Meadow Stories (1929); The Wonderful Days (1929); Children of the Handcrafts (1935); Tops and Whistles, Stories of Early American Toys and Children (1937); From Moccasins to Wings (1938); L'il Hannibal (1938); Pioneer Art in America (1944); The Little Rabbit Who Wanted Red Wings (1945); Miss Hickory (1946); Merry Christmas Book (1948); Old Man Rabbit's Dinner Party (1949); Enchanted Village (1950); A Candle for Your Cake (1952); Finnegan II (1953); The Little Red Schoolhouse (1957); Flickertail (1962).

Carolyn Sherwin Bailey was taught at home by her mother, a teacher and writer of children's books, until the age of 12. Following in her mother's footsteps, Bailey's first success as a storyteller came at age five, when a narrative she dictated to her mother won the $25 second prize in a magazine contest. Bailey later enrolled at Lansingburgh Academy, and, after graduating from Teachers College, Columbia University, she attended the Montessori School in Rome and the New York School of Social Work. She worked as a public-school teacher, as a kindergarten principal in Springfield, Massachusetts, and did resident social work at Warren Goddard House in New York. Some of her early collections of short stories and poems grew out of her work at Warren Goddard House. One collection, For the Children's Hour, written in 1906, would remain in print for over 40 years. Editorial accomplishments included the children's department of Delineator, of which she served as editor, many collections for use in educational settings, and American Childhood which she edited for a number of years.

In 1936, Bailey married Dr. Eben Clayton Hill, a research specialist in radiology at Johns Hopkins. The couple bought a 150-year-old house in Temple, New Hampshire, complete with 135 acres of timberland and an apple orchard, which they undertook to restore. Bailey discovered the house's cache of books, old furniture, and toys, which inspired a series of books about pioneer arts and crafts. The resulting four volumes, Children of the Handcrafts (1935), Tops and Whistles, Stories of Early American Toys and Children (1937), Homespun Playdays (1940), and Pioneer Art in America (1944), are thought by some critics to be her finest achievements. Cited for their meticulous research into "genealogical records, personal letters and diaries, rare village and county records, and a study of old maps," the books were praised for bringing American arts and crafts vividly into focus for young readers.

A less characteristic work, Miss Hickory, received the 1947 Newbery award from the American Library Association and remains a favorite among children. Bailey's title character, inspired by a doll made for her by her grandmother, is an old New England spinster with a twig body, a hickory nut head, and a sharp tongue. The Atlantic called the work "a skillful blending of fact, fantasy, and woody detail told in prose as clear and delicate as an etching." A dramatization of Miss Hickory was adapted by Ray Fowler and Barrett Clark as a Viking recorded book in 1972.

Calling storytelling "a real force for mental and moral good," Bailey believed that to be effective, a children's story must be developmentally appropriate. Reviewers marveled at her continuing "freshness," and her ability to improve in imaginative depth and technique with each succeeding work. She continued writing until her death on December 24, 1961.


Commire, Anne. Something about the Author. Vol. 14. Detroit, MI: Gale Research.

Mainiero, Lina, ed. American Women Writers. NY: Frederick Ungar, 1979.

Rothe, Anna. Current Biography. NY: H.W. Wilson, 1948.

Barbara Morgan , Melrose, Massachusetts

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Bailey, Carolyn Sherwin (1875–1961)

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