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Title: The Mentor: Makers of American Fiction, Vol. 6, Num. 14, Serial No. 162, September 1, 1918
Author: Maurice, Arthur B.
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Mentor: Makers of American Fiction, Vol. 6, Num. 14, Serial No. 162, September 1, 1918" ***

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Transcriber’s note: The Table of Contents was added by the Transcriber
and placed into the Public Domain.


    Makers of Modern American Fiction
      Booth Tarkington
      Robert W. Chambers
      Richard Harding Davis
      Jack London
      Rex Beach
      Stewart Edward White
    Makers of Modern American Fiction
      Norris’ Realism and McCutcheon’s Romanticism
      John Fox and Harold McGrath
      A Group of Popular Story-Tellers
      Dreiser and Dixon
      Harrison and Bacheller
      Fiction Notes in Varied Keys
      Fiction of Adventure
      Each Holds a Place of His Own
      Supplementary Reading
    The Open Letter
      The Couriers of the Postal Service
      The Mentor in the Desert
    Transcriber’s Notes



    SEPTEMBER 1 1918      SERIAL NO. 162





    VOLUME 6
    NUMBER 14



There is a popular notion that anyone can write a story. A good novel
is easy reading, and it seems, on that account, to be easy writing.
Many a reader, in the comfortable enjoyment of good fiction, misses the
genius of it altogether. He is like the skeptical young man who could
see nothing difficult in the art of sculpture. “All you need to do,”
he said, “is to get a block of marble, then take a hammer and chisel,
and knock off the parts you don’t want.” So stated, sculpture does seem
very simple. But, after all, there is some importance in knowing what
parts of the marble to knock off.

       *       *       *       *       *

Many of us feel, at times, an inward stir that prompts us to express
ourselves in the written word. We are quite sure that we could write
a novel or a play. That we don’t do so is simply because we are so
busy--or something else. “I could write plays as well as Shakespeare
if I’d a mind to,” said someone years ago to Charles Lamb. “Yes,”
answered the gentle humorist, “anyone could write plays as well as
Shakespeare--if he had the mind to.”

       *       *       *       *       *

Some take their pen in hand to prove to themselves how easy it all is.
When they have tried out several of the productions that they have
dashed off so readily, they sometimes discover that what was easy
writing for them was hard reading for others, and the wise ones then
come to realize that the good fiction that makes such easy reading is
often the finished and refined product of double and re-doubled labor.

       *       *       *       *       *

For those that are determined to win their way in fiction, the means
for study and observation are ample. There are many books on the art
of writing to inform and guide the aspiring author, and there is a
wealth of fiction literature ever at hand to supply him with examples
of good story writing. In a helpful, informing book on the technique
of fiction, Professor Charles F. Horne makes clear the essential
elements of the novel--which he finds to be six in number: (1) Plot,
(2) Motive or Verisimilitude, truth to life, (3) Character Portrayal,
(4) Emotional Quality--Sentiment, Passion, (5) Background, (6) Style.
“A novel,” Professor Horne writes, “cannot consist simply of a fixed
picture, a description of a man in repose. It must show him acting
and acted upon. In other words, it deals with man in his relation
to his environment. Hence it must have two essentials: the man and
his movements; that is, the characters and the story. The causes and
effects of these two essentials give us two more. The man can only move
as he is swayed internally by his emotions; and the movement can only
be seen externally in its effect on his surroundings, his background.
These four form the positive elements or content of the novel, and they
must be presented under the limitations set by man’s experience of life
or verisimilitude, and by his modes of conveying ideas, his style of

            W. D. M.

       *       *       *       *       *





    SEPTEMBER 1, 1918        VOLUME 6        NUMBER 14

  Entered as second-class matter, March 10, 1913, at the postoffice
  at New York, N. Y., under the act of March 3, 1879. Copyright,
  1918, by The Mentor Association, Inc.


[Illustration: BOOTH TARKINGTON]

_Booth Tarkington_


Towards the close of the last century Booth Tarkington wrote “The
Gentleman from Indiana.” It is _as_ the Gentleman from Indiana that Mr.
Tarkington has been widely known ever since. There was a time, some
fifteen or twenty years ago, when every native Hoosier was supposed to
have the manuscript of a “Best-Selling” novel concealed somewhere about
his person. Some of the authors died, and some of them went into other
occupations, and the state has managed to live the belief down. But Mr.
Tarkington remains the most conspicuous living figure linking Indiana
with letters.

Born in Indianapolis on July 29, 1869, he studied at Phillips-Exeter,
and later at Princeton. In both places he was recognized as one likely
to go far. Princeton he entered as a junior, but “made” the editorial
boards of both college publications, the _Tiger_ and the _Lit_--his
sketches for the former being rather better than his literary
contributions to the latter. He wrote the play for the Triangle
Club, and, at graduation, was voted the most popular and promising
man in the Class of 1893. There followed, however, lean years, when
the prophecies seemed unlikely of fulfillment. That was a period,
when, like the John Harkless of his own story (“The Gentleman from
Indiana”), he was figuratively “sitting on a rail fence in Indiana.”
Always a hard worker, he toiled unremittingly at invention and
rewriting, only to have the manuscripts that he submitted with bright
hopes come back to him with disheartening regularity. That was the
story of the five or six years after 1893. His first tale to be sold
was “Cherry,” a whimsical romance of the country about Princeton and
undergraduate life at the College of New Jersey in pre-Revolutionary
days. Accepted by _Harper’s_, it was not published until long after.
Then, suddenly, success came. Almost simultaneously “The Gentleman from
Indiana” and “Monsieur Beaucaire” appeared, the first a full-length
novel of mid-western life, the second a charming little romance of
eighteenth-century manners at Bath when Beau Nash reigned and a Prince
of the Blood came over from France in the guise of a barber in the
French Minister’s train. The recognition won with those two books
has widened with the years. After the “Gentleman” and “Beaucaire”
came “The Two Van Revels,” the germ of which had been a short tale
of two thousand words written in the author’s undergraduate days. As
a result of a brief fling at political life Mr. Tarkington wrote the
stories collected under the title “In the Arena.” That was followed by
“The Conquest of Canaan,” the story of a discredited boy who leaves
his native town under a shadow, and returns to win its reluctant
admiration. The years spent about that time in Europe suggested “The
Guest of Quesnay,” and two shorter stories with scenes laid in Italy,
“The Beautiful Lady,” and “Mine Own People.” The chief distinction of
“The Flirt,” in which the author returned to the Indiana setting of the
earlier books, was the picture of the heroine’s impish brother, Hedrick
Madison. “The Turmoil,” dealing with the evolution of one of the great
mid-western cities, showed Mr. Tarkington in the full maturity of his
power. After that book he struck a new and rich vein in his sketches
delineating boy life, the stories dealing with Penrod Schofield and
William Sylvanus Baxter having found a response in every corner of the
land. Mr. Tarkington has also to his credit considerable achievement
as a playwright. “The Man From Home,” written in collaboration with
Harry Leon Wilson, was one of the most successful plays of the American
stage of recent years. Other plays from his pen are “Cameo Kirby,”
“Springtime,” “Mister Antonio,” “The Country Cousin,” and “Seventeen.”
Calling Indianapolis his home town, Mr. Tarkington spends much of his
time at Kennebunkport, Maine, and usually passes a month or two every
year in Princeton, New Jersey.



_Robert W. Chambers_


What impresses one most about Mr. Robert W. Chambers is his amazing
versatility. In addition to being a popular novelist, he is an expert
on rare rugs; an artist, and so well qualified a judge of fine art
that he can talk intelligently to the curators and directors of
museums about the old masters on exhibition there; equipped with an
understanding of Chinese and Japanese antiques so that he can detect
forgeries in that art; an authority on mediæval armor; a lover of
outdoors, of horses, dogs, and an ardent collector of butterflies;
and, in addition, a thorough man of the world, who knows Paris and
Petrograd, and many of the out-of-the-way corners of the earth. These
are the qualities that come to mind readily, but the list is far from
complete. The longer one knows Mr. Chambers, the more varied the
knowledge he finds in him.

Out of such rich mental resources Mr. Chambers draws his material for
fiction. He writes two novels a year for a large public that eagerly
devours them. Mr. Chambers’ life is a full and active one.

He was born in Brooklyn, New York, on May 26, 1865, and in his youth
he aspired to be a painter. He studied art in Paris at Julien’s
Studio from 1886 to 1893, then returned to New York, and for a while
contributed illustrations to the current publications. Then one day
a novel, “In the Quarter,” appeared with his name as author. From
that time on his life was given largely to writing fiction, and the
record of the years has been a brilliant one. In 1893 he published the
haunting, uncanny, but fascinating “The King in Yellow,” a collection
of stories of art life. He turned to France first as a background for
romance. At irregular intervals from 1894 to 1903 appeared “The Red
Republic,” “Lorraine,” “Ashes of Empire,” and “Maids of Paradise.” They
all had the France-Prussian War as their setting, and dashing young
Americans as their heroes. Then in 1901 with “Cardigan” and other books
he gave expression in fiction to the spirit of the American Revolution.
It has not been simply as an historical or a semi-historical novelist,
however, that Mr. Chambers has made his widest appeal. In the foibles,
extravagances, superficialities and eccentricities of contemporary
American society, he has found his richest vein. It does not matter
whether the background of a particular tale be New York, or Washington,
or Palm Beach. The underlying social and ethical problems are of real
importance. Marriage, the giving or selling in marriage, the reasons
of heredity that make for or against a certain marriage: these are
fundamentals common to all humanity. In “The Younger Set” and “The
Firing Line” hero and heroine have unwisely married, and the story
hinges largely on problems raised subsequently by divorce. In “The
Fighting Chance” (1906), and “The Danger Mark” (1909) the problem is
that of unfitness to marry. In the former it is the man who inherits
a craving for alcohol, and the woman for sentimental philandering; in
the latter the woman is given to intemperance and the man to excessive
gallantry. In one of his later books, “The Hidden Children” (1915), Mr.
Chambers returns to a favorite setting of the earlier years, upper New
York of the Colonial period.

On a basis of solid fact, it would seem impossible for one man to
do all this work. Where does he ever find time to do it? The answer
lies in the fact that Mr. Chambers keeps regular hours--office hours,
almost--for his writing, all of which is done in long hand. At that he
is not a rapid writer, frequent revision is essential, and a passion
for the verification of details consumes much time. Yet the bulk and
excellence of the accomplished performance remains an established fact;
and in many ways it is little less than marvelous.




_Richard Harding Davis_


In 1890 there appeared in _Scribner’s Magazine_ a short story entitled
“Gallegher.” It gave an account of a smart young office boy employed on
one of the newspapers, who succeeded in “beating the town” by bringing
home a big, sporting story to his paper. It was held at once as one of
the best newspaper tales ever printed. When the name of the author,
Richard Harding Davis, was mentioned, the reading public recognized him
as the son of Rebecca Harding Davis, a fiction writer of established
reputation. Davis’ fifty-two years of life were full of color and manly
achievement. He was a novelist, short story writer, war correspondent,
editor and playwright. He began as newspaper reporter, a pursuit most
natural, for his father, L. Clarke Davis, was a brilliant journalist
and editor.

Richard Harding Davis was born in Philadelphia in 1864, and attended
the Episcopal Academy and afterwards Lehigh and Johns-Hopkins
Universities. In his college days he was weak in mathematics, but
strong in all that made life full, joyous and vital. He entered eagerly
into sports and wrote stories for the Lehigh magazines.

In 1887 he began newspaper work on the Philadelphia _Record_, also
occasionally contributing to the _Press_ and other Philadelphia papers.
His first big assignment was in connection with the Johnstown Flood in
1889. It was in the _Press_ office that Davis discovered the original
Gallegher--the office boy who was immortalized in Davis’ famous story,
just as the mongrel dog was vindicated in Davis’ later story “The Bar
Sinister.” In 1889 he made a trip to London as correspondent to the
Philadelphia _Telegraph_, and while there wrote of the Whitechapel
murders in a way that attracted attention. He got his first job in New
York in this way. In London he came to know Arthur Brisbane, who was
then English correspondent of the New York _Sun_, and afterward editor
of the _Evening Sun_. On his return to America he sought a newspaper
job in New York, and Brisbane took him on the _Evening Sun_. His
first experience was strikingly characteristic. A bunco man accosted
him near the ferry. Davis gave him some marked money, then had him
arrested and walked him boldly into the _Evening Sun_ office, showed
him up for the crook he was--and then wrote him up in the form of a
news story for the paper. Aside from his regular assignments as a
reporter, Davis busied himself with pictures of various types of New
York life. Among these the most famous were the Van Bibber stories, in
which Davis presented types of New York society. In 1891 Davis went
to _Harper’s Weekly_ and remained there for three years as managing
editor. Then he became a free lance. It was not necessary for him
to “hold down a job.” All magazines and book publishers were eager
for his work. His first engagement as war correspondent was on the
battlefields of the Greco-Turkish War. He was a prominent figure among
newspaper correspondents in all the great wars that followed. He made
a genuine sensation by his war letters written from Cuba during the
Spanish-American War of 1898. In that war Davis formed a friendship
with Theodore Roosevelt that remained firm through life.

In 1898, with the publication of “Soldiers of Fortune” in _Scribner’s
Magazine_, the reputation of Davis as a novelist became established,
and, thereafter, the fiction that flowed from his pen found an eager
and growing audience. His extensive travels enabled him to set his
stories in widely varied scenes. “Soldiers of Fortune” told of
revolution and political intrigue in a South American republic. That
also was the vein and atmosphere of “Captain Macklin” and later of “The
White Mice.” In “The Exiles” he invaded Morocco for his background
and characters. Later, in “The King’s Jackal,” he laid his scenes in
Tangier. “Ranson’s Folly” is a story of American army life--afterwards
dramatized, as was “Soldiers of Fortune.” “Princess Aline” is a
romantic story of the “Graustark” kind. Besides fiction, Davis wrote
many books of adventure and travel impression, such as “Rulers of the
Mediterranean,” “Three Gringos in Venezuela,” “The West from a Car
Window,” “A Year from a Reporter’s Note Book,” “The Congo and Coasts of
Africa.” His later books, based on war correspondence, include “With
the French,” “Somewhere in France,” and “With the Allies.”

We have named scarcely half the titles of Davis’ work. He was busy
always with his pen, and, as one of his fellow craftsmen in literature
observed, he “never penned a dull line.” In all his stories he left a
record of his sturdy Americanism and his passionate devotion to a just
cause, wherever he found it.

He died suddenly of heart disease on April 12, 1916. The loss to
literature was great and was keenly felt in a history-making time
like this that demands an eloquent chronicler. Davis will always be
remembered as one of the most buoyant, brave, heroic and industrious
workers in the field of American literature, a man who saw life fully
and clearly, and who reflected it truly, in healthy, ringing, inspiring

[Illustration: JACK LONDON]

_Jack London_


Jack London’s stories were written largely out of his own life. If they
were not actual experiences cast in fiction form, they were narratives
spun out of the fiber of his own experiences. Life was never certain
for London. He was always on the go, and his life was an ever vigorous,
vital _present_, with the future undetermined and unguessed. He was
born in San Francisco on January 12, 1876. When he was eleven years
old he left his ranch in the Livermore Valley and set out to satisfy
his longing for a knowledge of the world and an expression of himself.
He first went to Oakland, where, in the public library, he came under
the romantic influence of such fiction writers as Washington Irving,
Ouida and others. Out of Irving’s “Alhambra” he built castles in
the air for himself, and launched upon a great literary career with
a strong under-current of romance and an irresistible longing for
adventure. He left home and joined the oyster pirates in San Francisco
Bay. Then, tiring of the excitement of piracy, he turned with equal
enthusiasm to the prosecution of it by joining the Fish Patrol, and
was entrusted with the arrest of some who were his former comrades.
Thrilling accounts of this life appeared under the title of “Tales
of a Fish Patrol.” In them is a wild buccaneer spirit, and the savor
of the sea. Those of us that read the “Sea Wolf” can find there a
passionate expression of the author’s own experiences before the mast
while seal hunting in Behring Sea or along the coast of Japan. It is
full of strong appealing character and strange sea lore. The same wild
breath of adventure is to be found in “The Mutiny of the Elsinore,” in
which London describes thrilling experiences in a trip around the Horn.
London was a worker, and labored hard among the rougher elements of
life--with longshoremen and shovellers in San Francisco; in factories
and on the decks of coastwise vessels. He was as good a tramp, too,
as he was a laboring man. He walked the Continent over from ocean to
ocean, gathering the materials for a “vast understanding of the common
man.” Out of these experiences came “The Road,” which is an appealing
record of sympathy with the vagrant poor, and an absorbing narrative of
adventurous journeying.

London tried schooling at different times in his early life, working
between hours to pay for his education. After several months of stern,
hard application, in which he covered about three years’ preparatory
work, he entered the University of California. The strain, however, of
work and study combined was too much for him, and after three months
he had to give up. Turning to things quite different, and with a
desperate hope that he might find fresh inspiration in a new kind of
life, he set off for the widely advertised Klondike to seek for gold.
In the Klondike “nobody talks; everybody thinks; you get your true
perspective; I got mine,” he says. After a year of hard toil in the
north, London returned home and assumed the burden of supporting his
family, his father having died while he was away. He wrote story upon
story, and finally gained acceptance and success. As book after book
came out, the public grew to know and recognize Jack London as one of
the strongest figures in American fiction.

He passed away on November 22, 1916, in the full swing of his
intellectual vigor, and it will be long before his splendid achievement
is forgotten, or the last of his books is consigned to the high shelves
that spell oblivion. No matter how sparing one may be in the use of
the word genius, for him it could be claimed. His name is one of the
few among those of the writing men of our time with which the magic
word is, without hesitation, to be linked. There was genius in his
invention, in his imagery, in his nervous style. To him was given to
know the moods of Arctic wastes and California valleys. The struggles
of his own soul and mind and body he dissected and portrayed in
“Martin Eden” (1909) and “John Barleycorn” (1913). He was practically
the only American writer to invade magnificently the prize-ring as a
field for romantic narrative. Its seamy side, its sordid corruption,
its driftage, as well as its brutal heroism, are reflected in such
tales as “The Game,” “The Abysmal Brute,” “The Shadow and the Flash,”
and “The Mexican.” “The Call of the Wild” (1903) challenges the very
best dog-stories of all time. “The Sea Wolf” (1904) is an epic of salt
brine, and creaking rigging, and man’s inhumanity to man, and the
“blond masters of the world.” There followed “Burning Daylight” (1910),
and “The Valley of the Moon” (1913), and “The Mutiny of the Elsinore”
(1914), which is “The Sea Wolf” “in a lower key,” and “The Strength of
the Strong” (1914), and a dozen more. Whatever the field, there was a
sureness of touch, and a power of graphic description that made the man
always a figure and a force.

[Illustration: REX BEACH]

_Rex Beach_


It was in Alaska--the field of “The Forerunner,” the Kipling poem that
was for so many years lost and entirely forgotten by its author, the
field of Robert W. Service’s “Songs of a Sourdough,” the field of so
many of the tales of Jack London and Stewart Edward White, that Rex
Beach first found literary expression. He did not set out in life to be
a literary man. He was a husky youth, full of vitality and, even in his
teens, a giant in strength. He was born in Atwood, Michigan, September
1, 1877, and he left his native place for the city of Chicago when he
was eighteen years of age. He meant to study law, but, as he said, he
“had no money--therefore had to find a place to eat.” In those days
the athletic associations of several of the large cities maintained
football teams of giant gladiators to entertain the multitude. Young
Beach had seen just one game of football, but when he presented
himself, his physical architecture was so imposing that he was engaged
without hesitation, as tackle, by the athletic association football
manager. The college teams used to play an annual series with these
huge professionals. Later they gave it up, because the “truck-horse
professionals” hired by the athletic associations could not be hurt
by anything short of an ax, while the college players, as Beach said,
were apt to “tear under the wing.” Beach played through the season,
taking part in the games by which his team won the championship of
America. Then, being desirous of eating regularly, he attached himself
to the athletic association’s swimming team and broke an indoor record
at water polo. That was in 1897, when the Klondike excitement broke
out. He stampeded with the rest. It was the spirit of adventure and no
thought of finding material for fiction that took him to the Yukon.

With two partners from Chicago, Beach was dumped off the boat at
Rampart, on the Yukon, one rainy night. The three hadn’t a dollar
amongst them, but they had plenty of goods. Then things began to
happen. “We prepared to become exorbitantly rich,” in the words of
Beach, “but it was a bad winter. There were fifteen hundred rough-necks
in town, very little food and plenty of scurvy. I soon found that my
strength was my legs. I could stampede with anybody. So I stampeded
faithfully whenever I heard of a gold strike, all that winter.” He
became dissatisfied with his two Chicago partners, because they
preferred to sit around the cabin cooking tasty messes to tearing
through blizzards at the tail of a dog team. They wanted to wait for
their million dollars until spring, but Beach wanted his by Christmas
at the latest. And so he set off, and quickly fell under the spell
of the Yukon. The glare of the white Arctic night, the toil of the
long trail, the complicated struggle for existence, the reversion to
primitive passions inevitable in a new civilization in process of
formation, made an imperative call to him, and held him fascinated.
The life about him moved him to write, and before long he was embarked
on a literary career. “Pardners,” his first story, appeared in 1904,
and this was followed by the novel that gave him reputation--“The
Spoilers,” which appeared in 1906. Then came “The Barrier” in 1907,
and “The Silver Horde” in 1909. They are all virile stories of Alaskan
life that have stirred many thousands of readers. Some have gone into
dramatic form, “The Barrier” having attained a new and distinguished
success as a film picture. In “The Ne’er Do Well” and in “The Net”
Beach sought Southern scenes, the former novel having Panama as its
background, and “The Net” New Orleans during the Mafia days. “The
Auction Block,” published in 1914, deals with the favorite activities
of modern Metropolitan life, and the sale of young girls into the
marriage tie.

Mr. Beach was christened “Rex E. Beach,” and he retained the middle
initial for some time, but when correspondents who had read his books
sent letters to him in which they addressed him as “_Rev._ E. Beach,”
he dropped the middle initial. He lives in New York City and has a
summer residence at Landing, Lake Hopatcong, N. J.


_Stewart Edward White_


Readers often link the name of Jack London and Stewart Edward White.
The men were of the same literary stature, though different from each
other in almost every respect. Both found inspiration in the same
theme--the struggle of man with primeval forces. In their technique
we find the difference. There is a sharp contrast between the fire of
Jack London and the held-in strength of Stewart Edward White. White
was once asked if it was not possible to lay hold of the heart and
imagination of the public through a novel which had no human love
interest in it--whether man matched against nature was not, after all,
the eternal drama. White considered for a moment and then said: “In the
main, that is correct. Only I should say that the one great drama is
that of the individual man’s struggles toward perfect adjustment with
his environment. According as he comes into correspondence and harmony
with his environment, by that much does he succeed. That is what an
environment is for. It may be financial, natural, sexual, political,
and so on. The sex element is important, of course--very important.
But it is not the only element by any means; nor is it necessarily
an element that exercises an _instant_ influence on the great drama.
Anyone who so depicts it is violating the truth. Other elements of the
great drama are as important--self-preservation, for example, is a very
simple and even more important instinct than that of the propagation of
the race. Properly presented, these other elements, being essentially
vital, are of as much interest to the great public as the relation of
the sexes.” These words express clearly the trend of Stewart Edward
White’s work.

From the beginning, Mr. White’s career has been one of prompt
recognition and well-ordered prosperity. He was born at Grand Rapids,
Michigan, on March 12, 1873. He attended no school until he was
sixteen years of age, and yet, far from being behind his schoolmates,
he entered the high school in the junior class with boys of his own
age and graduated at eighteen, president of his class. He excelled in
athletics and held the long distance running record of his school. He
graduated a few years later from the University of Michigan, and then
spent two years in the Columbia Law School, New York.

With private tutors, and then amidst the best university surroundings,
Stewart Edward White’s education was obtained under advantageous
auspices. He read and traveled a great deal, and had time to indulge
his love of outdoor life. His first production was a story entitled “A
Man and His Dog,” and under the advice of Professor Brander Matthews,
of Columbia, he offered it for publication. It was bought by _Short
Stories_ for $15. This was Mr. White’s first income from literary
work. Then, after a trip to the Hudson Bay country, he wrote a story
entitled “The Claim Jumpers,” which was published in 1901 and met
with an encouraging reception. “The Westerners,” which was finished
later, was bought for serial publication for about $500. This was a
distinct advance in his literary affairs, and when “The Blazed Trail”
was published in 1902, Mr. White came truly into his own. “The Blazed
Trail” was written in a lumber camp in the depth of a western winter,
and it was composed during the early hours from four A. M. till eight,
before he put on his snow-shoes for a day’s lumbering. “The Conjurer’s
House” came out in 1903, and in that same year “The Forest,” which Mr.
White regards as one of the most instructive books he has written. It
is the story of a canoe trip. The immediate success of “The Forest”
led to the writing of “The Mountains,” which told the adventures of
a camping trip in the Sierras. Then “The Mystery,” “Camp and Trail,”
“The River Man,” “The Rules of the Game,” “The Call of the North,”
“The Rediscovered Country,” “The Adventures of Bobby Orde,” “The Gray
Dawn,” “The Leopard Woman,” and other books followed. In all his books
he told the vigorous story of life in its primitive forms. “Gold” is
a picture of the madness of ’49. “The Dawn” is a story of California,
“The Leopard Woman” a romance of the African wilds. In his later books,
Africa became to Mr. White a very real and commanding subject--and one
that still holds him in its lure.

Mr. White produces his books fast and in highly finished form. He is
essentially a realist. Human achievement, with all its vital interest
and meaning, laid hold early on his imagination and gave to his stories
their all-pervading sense of truth to life. As a critic has said,
“One puts down a book by him with a feeling of having read through
experiences, dramatic and full of romance, yet never breaking the
bounds of probability--and that is fine art.” Mr. White’s home is in
Santa Barbara, California, and his field of active experience includes
a substantial part of the whole surface of the earth.

Mr. White entered the U. S. Service shortly after war was declared.
The picture on the opposite side of this sheet shows him in uniform as
Major of U. S. Field Artillery.



  Entered as second-class matter March 10, 1913, at the postoffice at
  New York, N. Y., under the act of March 3, 1879. Copyright, 1918,
  by The Mentor Association, Inc.




    _Former Editor of The Bookman, author of “New York of the Novelists”_



  EDITORIAL NOTE.--In this number of The Mentor the men that are
  making modern American fiction are considered. The women fiction
  writers will be considered in a later number.

Now and again we are privileged to touch hands with some literary
figure of the older generation, who was of the earth when Poe and his
Virginia lived in the Fordham cottage; when Fenimore Cooper, returned
from his long stay in Europe, was disputing with his neighbors on
the shores of Lake Oneida, when Irving was looking down upon the
noble Hudson from the slopes of his Sunnyside estate; and Holmes was
babbling wise philosophy over his coffee cup at the Boston breakfast
table. But there are not many of these links with the past left, and
the number is diminishing rapidly. Far beyond the Biblical three-score
and ten, Mr. William Dean Howells, as the dean of our literature, is
a figure upholding its richest traditions; turning three-score and
ten is Mr. James Lane Allen, whose name recalls the rare style and
the throbbing life of the books dealing with the Blue Grass region of
Kentucky. They are almost the last of the surviving great literary
figures of yesterday. These men and their work have been covered in
Mentor Number 25, “American Novelists.” The writing men of today, the
men with whom this article has to do, are for the most part those that
have not traveled beyond late youth or early middle age. Their hats
were flung into the ring in the present century; or, at the earliest,
in the nineties of the last century. Finding the field of the novelist
a broader one than it was in their fathers’ time, they have blithely
ventured, in their search for themes and material, to the four corners
of the real or the imaginary earth. The following pages present a
general review of the work of our well known fiction writers of the
day. The works of Owen Wister, Winston Churchill, Thomas Nelson Page
and George W. Cable are also considered fully in Mentor Number 25, so
we lead off this article with a simple mention of these distinguished
story-writers. In Wister’s work there is a primal bigness and strength
and, in certain passages, great tenderness and romantic charm. Two of
his best known books, “The Virginian” and “Lady Baltimore,” reveal
these qualities.

[Illustration: JAMES LANE ALLEN]

[Illustration: From photograph, copyright by Paul Thompson, N. Y.


[Illustration: Press Illustrating Service


Bust, by Finn Haakon Frolich, unveiled in Honolulu, after London had
made his cruise in the _Snark_]

Mr. Winston Churchill began with the somewhat trivial “The Celebrity”
(1898), regarded when it appeared as a satirical hit at the personality
of Richard Harding Davis. Books that followed were, “Richard Carvel,”
“The Crisis,” “The Crossing,” “A Far Country,” “Coniston,” “Mr. Crewe’s
Career,” “The Inside of the Cup,” “The Dwelling-Place of Light.” It is
to a splendid persistence, an inexhaustible patience, a rigid adherence
to his own ideals both in style and substance, that Winston Churchill
owes the high position among American contemporary writers of fiction
that he holds and has held for nearly two decades. Thomas Nelson Page
and George W. Cable attained fame long ago as interpreters, in fiction,
of Southern life, Mr. Page by his tender and beautiful “Marse Chan,”
“Meh Lady” and other stories, Mr. Cable by his romances of “Old Creole
Days” and “John March, Southerner.”

[Illustration: Bradley studios, N. Y.


_Norris’ Realism and McCutcheon’s Romanticism_

More than fifteen years have passed since Frank Norris died, yet no
one has yet come to take quite his place as an apostle of American
realism. Before he fell under the spell of Émile Zola, with “McTeague,”
and began his Trilogy of the Wheat, he had been the most ardent of
romanticists. His earliest ventures in literature were tales of
love and chivalry, written when he was a boy in his teens in Paris.
“McTeague” was begun in the undergraduate days at the University of
California. It began to assume shape in his year of student work at
Harvard; but was elaborated and polished for four years before the
public was allowed to see it. In the meantime “Moran of the Lady Letty”
had been dashed off in an interval of relaxation, and became Norris’
first published book. Then came to Norris what he considered “the big
idea,” that summed up at once American life and American prosperity. He
would write the Trilogy of the Wheat. In the first book, “The Octopus,”
he told of the fields and elevators of the Far West. “The Pit” showed
the wheat as the symbol of mad speculation. With “The Wolf,” to picture
the lives of the consumers in the Eastern States and in Europe, the
Trilogy was to end. But before the tale was written Frank Norris died,
at thirty-two years of age.


A few years ago, Mr. George Barr McCutcheon was asked the question,
“Where is Graustark?” Whimsically he attempted to jot down on paper
directions for journeying to the imaginary mountain kingdom, starting
from a railway station in Indiana. Someone rather ill-naturedly
suggested that Mr. McCutcheon had originally discovered this country in
Anthony Hope’s “The Prisoner of Zenda.” But then someone else pointed
out that Anthony Hope in turn had found his inspiration in Stevenson’s
“Prince Otto,” and that R. L. S. himself had certainly owed something
to the Gerolstein of M. Eugène Sue’s “The Mysteries of Paris.” So
neither the exact whereabouts of Graustark nor its ultimate source is
of great importance. What really counts is that hundreds of thousands
of readers have found delight in following the adventures of Mr.
McCutcheon’s stately heroines and somewhat irreverent heroes.


From a late picture taken at his summer home in Maine]

Every one of his romantic tales has met with generous
welcome--“Graustark,” “Beverly of Graustark,” “Truxton King” and “The
Prince of Graustark.”

But Graustark, if the first string to Mr. McCutcheon’s bow, is far from
being the only one. Quite as wide in its popular appeal as any of the
Graustark tales was “Brewster’s Millions,” with its curious starting
problem. “Nedra” dealt with a desert island. “The Rose in the Ring”
was the story of a circus. Other books not to be overlooked are “Jane
Cable,” “The Daughter of Anderson Crow,” “The Man from Brodney’s,” and
in shorter form, “The Day of the Dog,” “The Purple Parasol,” “Cowardice
Court” and “The Alternative.”

[Illustration: OWEN JOHNSON]

_John Fox and Harold McGrath_

Someone recently spoke of John Fox, Jr., as a writer who never misses
fire. Certainly he has staked a definite claim to the Cumberland
Range and the primitive people who dwell in its valleys and along
its mountainsides. As early as 1894, “A Mountain Europa” appeared.
It was followed by “A Cumberland Vendetta,” “Hell-for-Sartain,” “The
Kentuckians,” “Crittendon,” and “Blue Grass and Rhododendrons.” But it
was not until 1903, with “The Little Shepherd of Kingdom Come,” that
Mr. Fox came fully into his own. Incidentally, his fellow-craftsman,
Mr. George Barr McCutcheon, considers the title the best title in all
American fiction. The high standard established in “The Little Shepherd
of Kingdom Come” has been maintained in “The Trail of the Lonesome
Pine” and “The Heart of the Hills.” Into that imaginary Central Europe
which lies somewhere east of Dresden, west of Warsaw, and north of the
Balkans, Harold McGrath went for such early books as “Arms and the
Woman” and “The Puppet Crown.” Those tales were in the first rank among
the thousands of stories that about that time were being written about
the fanciful kingdoms and principalities, and the natural gift for
story spinning that the author showed then has been in evidence in his
subsequent tales in other fields. From among the twenty odd books that
now bear his name, it is not easy to make a selection. Perhaps those
most conspicuous on the score of popularity have been “The Man on the
Box,” “Half a Rogue,” “The Goose Girl,” “The Carpet of Bagdad,” and
“The Voice in the Fog.”

[Illustration: BRAND WHITLOCK]

[Illustration: THOMAS DIXON]

_A Group of Popular Story-Tellers_

While still an undergraduate, Mr. Jesse Lynch Williams wrote several of
the tales that went to make up his first published volume, “Princeton
Stories.” In his second volume, “The Stolen Story and Other Stories,”
Mr. Williams struck an entirely new note. Of the tale from which the
book drew its title, Richard Harding Davis, himself the author of
“Gallegher,” once said that it was “the very best of American yarns of
newspaper life.” Two others of the collection of striking ingenuity
were “The Great Secretary of State Interview” and “The Cub Reporter and
the King of Spain.” Among Jesse Lynch Williams’ later books are “The
Day-Dreamer,” “My Lost Duchess,” and “The Married Life of the Frederick

[Illustration: THEODORE DREISER]

It was along the road of anonymity that Basil King finally found the
way to pronounced success. In “Griselda,” “Let Not Man Put Asunder,”
“In the Garden of Charity,” “The Steps of Honor,” and “The Giant’s
Strength” he had won recognition as an accomplished story-teller. But
still his audience was a comparatively limited one. Then, in 1910,
appeared “The Inner Shrine,” a story of Franco-American life. It
was read from one end of the land to the other, and greatly piqued
curiosity as to the authorship, which, for many months, was carefully
concealed. A dozen different names were suggested and accepted before
it became an open secret that the story was the work of Basil King.
The success of “The Inner Shrine” was perhaps largely responsible for
the success of the subsequent “The Wild Olive” and “The Street Called

[Illustration: From photograph, copyright by Paul Thompson, N. Y.


In by-gone years it was Brand Whitlock, the Mayor of Toledo; in recent
times it has been Brand Whitlock, the American Minister to Belgium,
that has obscured Brand Whitlock, novelist. Yet despite the height he
has attained in the fields of politics and of diplomacy, he is, and is
likely always to remain, at heart a man of letters. Some day it may be
given to him to “write the book as he sees it, for the God of things as
they are.” Meanwhile he claims recognition here on the basis of such
works of fiction as “The Thirteenth District,” “The Happy Average,”
“The Turn of the Balance,” and “The Gold Brick,” a collection of short
stories that appeared in 1910.

[Illustration: Campbell studios, N. Y.


Samuel Hopkins Adams’ first essay in the field of sustained fiction
was “The Mystery,” written in 1905, in collaboration with Stewart
Edward White. The following year appeared “The Flying Death,” a tale
of Montauk Point. Subsequent novels by Mr. Adams have been “Average
Jones,” “The Secret of Lonesome Cave,” “Little Miss Grouch,” and “The
Clarion,” the last named being a story involving newspaper life and the
sinister influence of the tainted money of patent medicine advertisers
on the liberty of the press.

[Illustration: From photograph, copyright by Pach Brothers, N. Y.


Despite a career of literary activity that goes back twenty years,
it is almost entirely to the books of the past four or five years
that Rupert Hughes owes his present position as a popular novelist.
In this later work, in such books as “What Will People Say?” “Empty
Pockets” and “We Can’t Have Everything,” he has found his theme
in modern Gotham: New York in the grip of the latest follies, the
insensate, all-day and all-night pursuit of pleasure, the dance, the
eating and drinking, and the squandering. Mr. Hughes’ novels reveal a
range of knowledge of even the remote corners of the great city that
has been painstakingly acquired, and that is used with the sense of
selection of the accomplished story-teller. Only a few months beyond
undergraduate life Owen Johnson published “Arrows of the Almighty”
and “In the Name of Liberty.” They were read by a limited audience,
mildly applauded, and then forgotten. Later, showing the Balzacian
influence, came “Max Fargus,” dealing with the seamy side of New York
law offices. In the point of material success, it could hardly be
considered an improvement on the earlier books. Then, one day, in a
whimsical mood, the author turned back to memories of his schoolboy
years in Lawrenceville. The road that led to success and recognition
had been found. From one end of the land to the other, growing boys,
and boys that had grown up, and boys with gray beards laughed over
every fresh exploit of “The Prodigious Hickey,” and “Dink Stover,”
and “Doc McNooder,” and “The Tennessee Shad,” and “The Triumphant
Egghead,” and “Brian de Boru Finnegan.” Motor parties traveling between
New York and Philadelphia acquired the habit of breaking the journey
at Lawrenceville for the purpose of visiting “The Jigger Shop,” where
Hungry Smeed established the Great Pancake record. Then Mr. Johnson
took one of his heroes from the school to the university, and “Stover
of Yale” was the most talked-of book of a month. Turning to a broader
field, the author found, in the turbulent life of twentieth-century New
York, the background for “The Sixty-first Second,” “The Salamander,”
“Making Money,” “The Woman Gives,” and “Virtuous Wives.”


    Courtesy Charles Scribner’s Sons


It is no disparagement of Edwin Lefevre as a workman to say that one
short story, written at a single sitting before breakfast, is of more
permanent importance than all the rest of his production combined. For
that story is “The Woman and Her Bonds,” which, without any hesitation,
is to be ranked among the really big short tales of American fiction.
It is the first of the collection known as “Wall Street Stories,” a
book which brought to Mr. Lefevre quick recognition. Wall Street is
the author’s particular field, and many of his characters are easily
recognized by those in intimate touch with the money mart of the
Western world. Besides “Wall Street Stories,” Mr. Lefevre has written
“Samson Rock of Wall Street,” “The Golden Flood,” and “To the Last

_Dreiser and Dixon_


    From photograph by Florence M. Hendershot, Chicago


A vigorous, if undeniably crude, figure in contemporary American
fiction, is Theodore Dreiser. Lacking style and literary distinction,
frequently bordering on the ridiculous, he nevertheless, by a rigid
devotion to a certain kind of realism that omits no details, has built
up a following that chooses to regard him as something of a great man.
His first book, written a dozen years or more ago, was “Sister Carrie.”
It introduced a soiled, unsentimental, rather sordid, but pathetic
and very human heroine. After a career in Chicago, Sister Carrie made
her way to New York, and eventually climbed to comfortable heights of
worldly success. “Jennie Gerhardt” (1911) was in much the same vein
and manner. “The Financier” (1912) gave a picture of American business
life as it was or as Mr. Dreiser conceived it to be during the Civil
War and the Reconstruction Period. Whatever its merits or demerits may
be, “The Genius,” his latest novel, owes its chief prominence to its
much debated morality.

[Illustration: Press Illustrating Service


After a life of activity in many fields, Thomas Dixon entered the
writing lists with “The Leopard’s Spots” (1902), in which, powerfully
if somewhat unevenly, he depicted conditions in certain states of
the South under the carpet-bag and negro domination of the late
sixties. Following up the same phase of history, he introduced, in
“The Clansman,” the Kluklux Klan, and showed the work accomplished by
that mysterious organization in bringing about the redemption of the
afflicted district. Among Mr. Dixon’s later books are “The Traitor,”
“The One Woman,” and “The Sins of the Father.”

[Illustration: CAPT. RUPERT HUGHES]

_Harrison and Bacheller_

Henry Sydnor Harrison’s first novel, “Captivating Mary Carstairs,” was
published anonymously, but in 1911 “Queed” appeared under the author’s
own name, and at once took a place in the front rank of the year’s
successful novels. There was a reminiscence of Dickens in the tale.
Queed, “the little doctor,” as he is known to his associates in the
story, is redeemed from over-acute egotism through the agency of two
young women. At two years’ intervals following “Queed,” came “V. V.’s
Eyes” and “Angela’s Business.”

[Illustration: ERNEST POOLE]

Back in the nineties of the last century there was a corner of New
York City known as Monkey Hill. It was in the shadow of the Brooklyn
Bridge, and crowning it, standing far back from the street, was a kind
of chalet that served as a club for certain writing men. Among these
men was Irving Bacheller, and to pleasant evenings in the club may
be traced “Eben Holden” (1900), the most popular of Mr. Bacheller’s
many popular books. As early as 1893, he had written “The Master of
Silence;” “The Still House of Darrow” appeared in 1894. But it was
“Eben Holden” that made the author’s name for a time a household
word. That book was followed by “D’ri and I,” “Darrel of the Blessed
Isles,” and “Vergilius,” a tale of ancient Rome. In his later books,
such as “Keeping Up With Lizzie” and “Charge It,” Mr. Bacheller plays
whimsically with the problems of modern extravagance. His latest novel
is “The Light in the Clearing.”

[Illustration: ZANE GREY]

_Fiction Notes in Varied Keys_

If one novel can make a novelist, Ernest Poole earned the right to be
considered one of the makers of modern American fiction when he wrote
“The Harbor” (1915). Although the end of the story was somewhat marred
by over-insistence on sociological problems, in the first part of the
book the author struck a reminiscent note as charming as that struck
by Du Maurier in “Peter Ibbetson.” No one had paid much attention
to Mr. Poole’s earlier novel, “A Man’s Friends,” but in the general
recognition of “The Harbor,” as a work of far more than ephemeral
significance, there was hardly a dissenting voice. Not so widely
popular, but marked by the same high quality of workmanship, is Mr.
Poole’s later book, “His Family.”

Of the same generation at Princeton as Ernest Poole was Stephen French
Whitman, and as mention of Mr. Poole’s name inevitably suggests “The
Harbor,” so the name of Mr. Whitman calls up at once memories of
“Predestined.” Unlike “The Harbor,” “Predestined” was not, speaking
materially, a success. It was too grim, its ending was too pitiless.
But very few who read the story of the degeneration of Felix Piers were
able soon to forget it. In such later stories as “The Isle of Life” and
“Children of Hope,” Mr. Whitman has forsaken New York for Italy and

[Illustration: JOSEPH C. LINCOLN]

It is now almost twenty years since Henry Kitchell Webster and Samuel
Merwin began their writing careers in collaboration. Together they
wrote “The Short Line War” (1899), “Calumet K” and “Comrade John.” All
these were well-told tales, and the later years, when each man has been
working alone, have shown that neither one carried an undue share of
the burden. Mr. Webster’s books include “The Whispering Man,” “A King
in Khaki,” “The Ghost Girl,” “The Butterfly” and “The Real Adventure.”
Mr. Merwin’s work has been unusual in the variety of its themes.
Washington and the Constitution of the United States were ingredients
of “The Citadel.” The adventures of an American girl in China were
narrated in “The Charmed Life of Miss Austen.” Musical theories, the
segregated district of Yokohama, and incidents in Chinese hotels went
to the making of “Anthony the Absolute.” “The Honey Bee” is the story
of a woman whose life has been in an American department store, who
makes a trip to Paris, and there falls in love with one Blink Moran, of
the prize-ring.


Summit Avenue, Hackensack, N. J.]

_Fiction of Adventure_

There is no questioning the force that Hamlin Garland has been in the
literature of our time. He has told his story of his own life and
literary activities in “A Son of the Middle Border” (1917), a volume
that was at once accepted as one of the foremost of American literary
autobiographies. In no way detracting from the quality of Mr. Garland’s
later work is the ventured opinion that he has never surpassed some
of his earlier stories. His writing career began about 1890, when the
first of the tales of “Main-Traveled Roads” struck a fresh note in
fiction. Between 1895 and 1898 he wrote “Rose of Dutcher’s Cooley,”
and, in 1902, “The Captain of the Gray Horse Troop.” These, with
“Main-Traveled Roads” are still probably his most popular books. In
1900 “The Eagle’s Heart” appeared, and later “Hesper,” “The Tyranny of
the Dark,” “The Long Trail,” “The Shadow World” and “Cavanagh, Forest


[Illustration: HARRY LEON WILSON]

Writing men of our generation have begun under the magic spell of
Stevenson. To Lloyd Osbourne it was given to serve his apprenticeship
to R. L. S., as Maupassant served his apprenticeship to Flaubert, and,
while yet an apprentice, to be accepted as a collaborator. Together
the stepfather and the stepson worked out “The Wrong Box” (1889), “The
Wrecker” (1892), and “The Ebb Tide” (1894). Then Stevenson passed on
into Shadow Land, and some years later Osbourne began alone with “The
Queen Versus Billy” and “Love the Fiddler.” In the first decade of the
present century the motor-car was still something of a novelty, and as
such almost a virgin field for fiction. It was of its then baffling
problems and incomprehensible moods that Lloyd Osbourne told in “The
Motor-maniacs,” “Three Speeds Forward,” and “Baby Bullet.” Later books
are “Wild Justice,” “The Adventurer,” and “A Person of Some Importance.”

[Illustration: WILL PAYNE]

[Illustration: From photograph, copyright by Paul Thompson, N.Y.


A certain letter of the alphabet for a time seemed to exert a
cabalistic influence on Louis Joseph Vance. “The Brass Bowl” appeared
in 1907. The book of the next year was “The Black Bag.” In 1909 it
was “The Bronze Bell.” There ended the use of the double B, but in
1912, Mr. Vance wrote “The Bandbox.” In the meantime had appeared
“The Pool of Flame,” “The Fortune Hunter,” “No Man’s Land,” and
“Cynthia-of-the-Minute.” Among the books that have followed “The
Bandbox” are “The Day of Days,” “Joan Thursday,” showing Mr. Vance at
his best, “The Lone Wolf,” and very recently, “The False Faces,” in
which the Lone Wolf returns to play a great part in the World War.

[Illustration: EDWIN LEFEVRE]

_Each Holds a Place of His Own_

The Law has ever had countless stories to tell. There is hardly a tale
by Arthur Train that does not, in some way, lead back to one of the
offices that cluster about the Criminal Courts Building facing Centre
Street, on the lower end of Manhattan Island. In that neighborhood
swung the shingle of the law firm of Gottlieb & Quibble, as related
in “The Confessions of Artemas Quibble.” Mr. Train’s first book,
“McAllister and His Double” (1905), began in a Fifth Avenue club, but
before a dozen pages had been finished, fate had carried McAllister
to the Tombs Prison. The thrice-told tales of Pontin’s Restaurant in
Franklin Street, where the lawyers gather at the noon hour, went to
make “The Prisoner at the Bar,” “True Stories of Crime” and “Courts,
Criminals and the Camorra.” Like Mr. Train, William Hamilton Osborne
has also achieved a place in Literature as well as Law.

[Illustration: ARTHUR TRAIN]

There are readers who regard the very facility of Gouverneur Morris as
a curse, believing that if writing to him had been harder work, his
present achievement would be considerably greater. His first book, “A
Bunch of Grapes,” dates back to his undergraduate days at Yale. Four
years later, in 1901, “Tom Beauling” appeared, to be followed the next
year by “Aladdin O’Brien.” “Yellow Men and White” showed what he could
do in the vein of “Treasure Island.” Of more enduring quality was “The
Voice in the Rice.” It is not surprising that many of our novelists
have begun with tales of undergraduate life. “Princeton Stories” was
the first book of Jesse Lynch Williams. “Harvard Episodes” of Charles
M. Flandrau. Will Irwin’s first fling at the game of writing was
“Stanford Stories” (1910). That book was done in collaboration. Also
in collaboration, this time with Gelett Burgess, the creator of “The
Purple Cow,” the editor of _The Lark_, and a humorist of rare whim,
were written Mr. Irwin’s next two books. It was a short sketch of the
old San Francisco before the earthquake, called “The City That Was,”
that first made Will Irwin’s name widely known. Of more substantial
proportions were “The House of Mystery,” “The Readjustment” and
“Beating Back.”

[Illustration: ROBERT HERRICK]

Of a certain genuine importance has been the work of Robert Herrick.
The author, like his heroes, has been finding the threads of life’s
web in a rather sorry tangle, and groping for a solution of the
world’s real meaning. It was of problems big and vital in our American
civilization that Mr. Herrick wrote in “The Memoirs of an American
Citizen,” “The Common Lot,” “The Web of Life,” “The Real World,”
“The Gospel of Freedom,” and “Together.” In “The Master of the Inn”
he has achieved an exceptional short story. Also deserving of high
attention is Meredith Nicholson, who began in 1903 with “The Main
Chance,” and achieved unusual popular success somewhat later with “The
House of a Thousand Candles” and “The Port of Missing Men.” Among
Mr. Nicholson’s more recent books are “The Lords of High Decision,”
“Hoosier Chronicle,” “Otherwise Phyllis” and “The Siege of the Seven
Suitors.” For tales breathing the spirit of the West and intricate
mystery stories, Zane Grey and Burton Egbert Stevenson are known
respectively. Mr. Grey’s best known books are “The Heritage of the
Desert,” “The Light of Western Stars,” “The Lone Star Ranger,” “The
Heart of the Desert” and “The U. P. Trail.” Wherever a well-told yarn
of intricate mystery is appreciated, such books as Mr. Stevenson’s “The
Marathon Mystery,” “The Destroyer” and “The Boule Cabinet” have found
generous welcome. Will Payne is the author of “Jerry the Dreamer,” the
striking “Story of Eva,” “Mr. Salt” and “The Losing Game”; Edward W.
Townsend in writing of Chimmie Fadden did not forfeit the place as a
novelist to which he is entitled by reason of such books as “A Daughter
of the Tenements,” “Days Like These” and “Lees and Leaven”; and Harry
Leon Wilson, who years ago made a definite impression with “The Seeker”
and “The Spenders,” and who of late has been moving a continent to
laughter by the dexterity with which he confronted the very British
Ruggles with the complicated problems of social life in the town of Red
Gap--somewhere in America.


[Illustration: Moffett studios, Chicago



Besides all these there are Joseph C. Lincoln and Cyrus Townsend Brady,
the first one in high favor for his breezy stories of Cape Cod life
and character, redolent of the salt sea air, the latter for his many
entertaining tales of plain and desert; and Sewell Ford, who created
the slangy but very human “Shorty McCabe” and “Torchy”; and those two
pungent writers of Western episodes, Peter Kyne and Charles E. Van
Loan. Emerson Hough has given us rousing tales of the Middle and Far
West, of the Kentucky mountains and Alaska. Holman Day’s excellent
stories breathe of the Maine woods, and Roy Norton has rendered tribute
to the sea. Harris Dickson, a son of Mississippi, has woven into story
form some throbbing incidents of Southern history, and has depicted
numerous sunny corners of every-day existence below the Mason and Dixon
line. James Branch Cabell is a spinner of charming romances; some of
the best have a medieval French flavor. Harold Bell Wright is well
known as the author of “Barbara Worth” and several other books whose
sales have climbed into the hundreds of thousands. Richard Washburn
Child is a young American who wields a vigorous pen in the portrayal
of national character, and James Oppenheim, not to be confused with
the Englishman, E. Phillips Oppenheim, represents vital phases of
present-day city life. Joseph Hergesheimer has won a place among
writers by reason of his picturesque style and original invention. A
comprehensive list of American-born novelists must also include the
names of Leroy Scott, Henry B. Fuller, Frank H. Spearman, Earl Derr
Biggers and Arthur Reeve, all of whom have within late years produced
popular successes.

The roll of the makers of modern American fiction is a long one, yet
none can gainsay that the average of achievement is high.


    _By Burton Rascoe_, Literary Editor, Chicago _Tribune_.

    _By F. T. Cooper._


As you finish the foregoing review of fiction writers, you may ask,
“Why do you make no mention of one of the best known and most widely
read of all our modern story-tellers--O. Henry?” We have reserved a
special place for him on this page. O. Henry occupied a position of
unique distinction among fiction makers, and it is only fitting that he
should have a place of his own in this number of The Mentor. As there
is in literature only one Edgar Poe and one Maupassant, so there is
only one O. Henry--and the gamut of life’s keynotes that his fingers
swept was wider than that of Poe and Maupassant combined. Tragedy,
Comedy, Mystery, Adventure, Romance and Humor--he knew them all, and it
was with no uncertain, amateur touch, but with the strong, sure stroke
of a master that he played in those varied keys. His Tragedy is grim,
his Comedy light and skilful, his Mystery baffling, his Adventure
absorbing, his Romance charming, and his Humor irresistible.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Illustration: O. HENRY

(William Sydney Porter--from the latest photograph made of him)]

William Sydney Porter--for that was O. Henry’s real name--was born
at Greensboro, North Carolina, in 1867. His father was a doctor of
ability, and something of an inventive genius. His mother wrote poetry,
and her father was, at one time, a newspaper editor. There was nothing
unusual about this family outfit--it was quite ordinary, in fact, and
in no way explained the genius of O. Henry. Nor did his school days,
nor his term of employment as a clerk in a drug store. His boyhood
was like that of thousands. But, as we read of him: “In those days
Sunday was a day of rest, and Porter and a friend would spend the long
afternoons out on some sunny hillside sheltered from the wind by the
thick brown broom sedge, lying on their backs gazing up into the blue
sky dreaming, planning, talking or turning to their books and reading.
He was an ardent lover of God’s great out-of-doors, a dreamer, a
thinker and a constant reader.”

       *       *       *       *       *

At eighteen years of age he went to Texas and, as he put it, “ran
wild on the prairies.” If he had any ambitions to write at that time,
he did not show them. He lived in an atmosphere of adventure, and he
loved to tell stories, but apparently just for the pleasure of it. He
was a good singer, a clever mimic, and something of a sketch artist.
But his pen had not yet begun to flow. From the Texas ranch he went to
Austin, where he engaged in newspaper work. After that came a period
of wandering--and then the New York life. He lived in two big rooms on
quiet Irving Place, three doors from Washington Irving’s old home--and
he found it lonesome. So he became a wanderer in New York, and he saw
and noted many things in the life of that city that no other writer
had taken account of. New York is better known to the world since O.
Henry lived there. His stories were written under pressure and with
great rapidity. He contracted to furnish the New York _World_ one story
a week for a year, and his product was so good that the contract was
renewed. During the same period he was contributing to magazines. His
total of stories amounts to two hundred and fifty-one, and they were
written during eight years. Then, in 1910, he died, leaving the world
enriched by a heritage of short stories that stand high among the
classic productions of their kind.

[Illustration: W. S. Woffat


The Couriers of the Postal Service

_Dear Mentor_: I have recently become a member of the Association, and
possessor of the five bound volumes of The Mentor. The following may be
of interest to you:

On the New York Post Office, on a coping surmounting the portico, there

My attention was attracted to this last August, when passing through
New York. I could not find out whence it came, until in January of
this year, while at Headquarters of the 62nd French Division, at
a small place named Rouez, about four miles from La Fere, on the
Oise, my orderly found a volume in a rubbish heap, and as it had the
appearance of having been a handsome library volume, he brought it to
me, and asked if it were any good. He held it before me, open, as it
was wet and muddy. On the open page I read of the line of couriers
established by Xerxes. The book, although evidently long exposed to the
weather, was in a good condition. As I read the words, referring to
(that neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor night shall prevent the
completion of their course with all possible speed), I realized that in
this “History of Herodotus,” and in the couriers of Xerxes, some four
hundred years before Christ, I had found the source of the inspiration
for our postal service.

EDWARD H. PLUMMER, Brigadier General U. S. Army, Fort Sill, Okla.

  _Editorial Note._--These lines are credited to Herodotus on the
  front of the Post Office building. The name of the Greek historian
  appears in small letters just after the quotation.

The Mentor in the Desert

It may be of interest to you to know that I came across a mutilated
copy of The Mentor in a small outpost station in the Kalahari Desert,
Southern Africa. How it ever got there, I can’t tell, for the nearest
railway station is several hundred miles away. The pages were a solace
to me on a very tedious journey in a wagon drawn by oxen. On account
of the mutilation I am unable to give you the full title of the issue
of The Mentor, but I recollect that with it were four photogravures of
famous composers. I further clearly remember that Beethoven was among
the four. He was a favorite composer of mine, and, just at that time,
I was trying to grasp the philosophy of his Ninth Symphony. Further,
I can remember that I was greatly interested in the publication, so
strangely come upon in this desert place, and I made a mental note that
should I ever come across its home address, and conditions were more
convenient, I would endeavor to become more clearly acquainted with The

            BERTRAM ADAMS, New York City



It gives us much pleasure to advise our friends that the sixth volume
of The Mentor Library is now ready for delivery. It contains numbers
one hundred and twenty-one to one hundred and forty-four inclusive,
and is, in every particular, uniform with the volumes now owned by our

One of the great advantages of The Mentor Library is that it continues
to grow from year to year--giving an endless supply of instructive and
wonderfully illustrated material that it would be impossible to obtain
elsewhere. As a new volume is added each year, this constitutes one of
the most valuable educational sets that you could possibly own, and at
a small cost.

The beautiful numbers of the unique Mentor Library will never be out
of date, as every Mentor is built on an important subject of enduring
interest. The concise form in which scores of subjects are covered
makes it of the greatest practical value to the business man, to the
active woman who appreciates the importance of knowledge, and to
children, who will find it of untold value in their school work. You
surely will want Volume Number Six, which will complete your Mentor
Library to date; that you may receive it you need only send the coupon
or a post card _without_ money.

The Volume will be forwarded to you all charges paid. You can remit
$1.50 upon receipt of bill, and $1.00 a month for only six months; or
a discount of 5% is allowed if payment in full is made within ten days
from date of bill.

We urge you to act at once.

    Very truly yours,

THE MENTOR ASSOCIATION, 114-116 E. 16th St., New York

       *       *       *       *       *

    The Mentor Association,
    114-116 East 16th St.,
    New York.


  I am anxious to have the new volume of The Mentor Library. Please
  send it to me all charges paid, and I will send you $1.50 upon
  receipt of bill and $1.00 per month for six months--$7.50 in all.

    Very truly yours;

  Name _______________________________________________________________

                 Street ______________________________________________

  Town _____________________________________ State ___________________

  A discount of 5% is allowed if payment in full is made within 10 days
  from date of bill.


Transcriber’s Notes

Punctuation, hyphenation, and spelling were made consistent when a
predominant preference was found in this book; otherwise they were not

Simple typographical errors and unbalanced quotation marks were

The statement beginning “PREPARED BY THE EDITORIAL STAFF” appears at
the bottom of each of the six biographies near the beginning of the
magazine, but only the last occurrence has been retained in this eBook.

The “Winston Churchill” discussed in this magazine was an American
writer, not the British statesman.

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Mentor: Makers of American Fiction, Vol. 6, Num. 14, Serial No. 162, September 1, 1918" ***

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