This whole BD is going way too fast for me & it's obviously just not possible to take a few days off from GO without losing the thread entirely. And all the papers have been really interesting & different. However... I finally got the chance to read Christine's piece and had a few comments/questions.

I thought it was particularly interesting to see the change in tone in popular American girls' stories in just a few short years and to note that Martha Finley was still writing the Elsie books when Jean Webster's (who, incidentally, died of puerpueral fever in1916) first book, When Patty Went to College, appeared in 1903. I know that's not really what Christine was writing about, but from the transition from moral tales/religious books to books for Modern Girls in less than 40 years obviously reflects a considerable change in girls' place in society.

Christine said: >> Illness can bring people together, change the 'status quo', can even make the sick person more interesting to the reader, in that he/she has 'suffered' and we feel sorry for him/her. It may even make the heroine look 'pale and interesting' to her lover as she reclines on her sick bed. <<

1. Pale & Interesting

Where does the expression 'pale and interesting' come from? Probably some Great Classic I should have read, right? A Famous Poem? A quick google gives some amusing examples of the phrase but not its origin.

Can any GOers claim to be P&I? I've always kind of envied those who akshully *look* as ill as they feel, you know, the people you take one look at & immediately order a taxi to send them home. One of my friends always turned a delicate pale green when she felt the slightest bit unwell & was sent to lie down - I am sure she was never suffering any more than anybody else. I always look fit to swim the Channel, even when I have pneumonia.

2. Sunday School Books

I was wondering - were the highly didactic moralistic 'Sunday School' books an American Phenomenon? Or were British Children also subjected to these awful stories? Judging from Joey & Co's reaction to the Elsie books, they must have been somewhat outside the usual story books read by schoolgirls in the 20s/30s, but was that just a factor of time - that is, were similar stories appearing in the UK at the same time as, say, the Elsie books?

When this BD was first suggested, I had vague thoughts of doing a piece on LT Meade (1854-1914), whose books are very readily available in North America - so much so that I thought she *was* American until I bothered to check - and many of her books do present the same sort of theme of redemption through illness/injury. Daddy's Girl is a real gem, about an Angel Child (IIRC they do call her The Angel) who makes The Robin look like a little tough. Through her injury the entire household is reformed. I will say no more for fear of spoiling the touching ending, but I can assure you the Red Sarafan doesn't begin to cut it. But were other British authors writing in this vein?


Girlsown mailing list
For self-administration and access to archives see
For FAQs see

Reply via email to