HAPPILY EVER AFTER: Frances Hodgson Burnett by Constance Buel Burnett

HAPPILY EVER AFTER: Frances Hodgson Burnett

Email this review


The author is the daughter-in-law of F.H.B. and her portrait is a flattering one. She has been selective about what she has included (no mention of the second marriage, family members are introduced but not followed) but this is the prerogative of the family memoirist. That she was almost insanely meddlesome, prone to emotional overstimulation, melodramtic excess and determined to surround life with bumpers of daydreams are all clearly implied in her son Vivian's biography The Romantic Lady: The Life Story of an Imagination but these characteristics are either softened, explained away or not mentioned here when they might have provided a good introduction to the flaws that do adhere to a certain kind of creative genius. The particular strength of this book is its faithful depiction of a tremendously facile writer at work. Launched in the soapy sea of Victorian ladies magazines, F.H.B. could have pot-boiled her life away. Ambition born of exposure to real poverty, a restless intelligence and an unquestioned talent for compelling storytelling eventually pushed her into the top ranks of commercial success. She worked at it and it was her stubborn integrity that forced the passage of the law that still protects authors from bootleg dramatizations of their novels. The title is an ironic touch, typifying the sort of fiction F.H.B. believed in and wrote. It indicates the gentle but sensible assessment of F.H.B.'s place in literature that is given in this book together with a description of her working methods, sources of inspiration and degree of dedication to the writer's craft. These are of the most immediate interest to younger readers and the biography is very readable. It is a private vision shared.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1965
Publisher: Vanguard