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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
Mary Mapes Dodge (1831–1905)
Critical and Biographical Introduction
 
TO write a story which in thirty years should pass through more than a hundred editions, which should attain the apotheosis of an edition de luxe, which should be translated into at least four foreign languages, be allotted the Montyon prize of 1500 francs for moral as well as literary excellence, and be crowned by the French Academy—this is a piece of good fortune which falls to the lot of few story-tellers. The book which has deserved so well is ‘Hans Brinker, or The Silver Skates,’ a story of life in Holland. Its author, born in New York, is a daughter of Professor James Jay Mapes, an eminent chemist and inventor, an accomplished writer and brilliant talker.  1
  In a household where music, art, and literature were cultivated, and where the most agreeable society came, talents were not likely to be overlooked. Mrs. Dodge, very early widowed, began writing before she was twenty, publishing short stories, sketches, and poems in various periodicals. ‘Hans Brinker’ appeared in 1864,—her delight in Motley’s histories and their appeal to her own Dutch blood inspiring her to write it. Of this book Mr. Frank R. Stockton says:—
          “There are strong reasons why the fairest orange groves, the loftiest mountain peaks, or the inspiriting waves of the rolling sea, could not tempt average boys and girls from the level stretches of the Dutch canals, until they had skated through the sparkling story, warmed with a healthy glow.
  “This is not only a tale of vivid description, interesting and instructive; it is a romance. There are adventures, startling and surprising, there are mysteries of buried gold, there are the machinations of the wicked, there is the heroism of the good, and the gay humor of happy souls. More than these, there is love—that sentiment which glides into a good story as naturally as into a human life; and whether the story be for old or young, this element gives it an ever-welcome charm. Strange fortune and good fortune come to Hans and to Gretel, and to many other deserving characters in the tale, but there is nothing selfish about these heroes and heroines. As soon as a new generation of young people grows up to be old enough to enjoy this perennial story, all these characters return to the days of their youth, and are ready to act their parts again to the very end, and to feel in their own souls, as everybody else feels, that their story is just as new and interesting as when it was first told.”
  2
  Besides this book, Mrs. Dodge has published several volumes of juvenile verse, such as ‘Rhymes and Jingles,’ and ‘When Life was Young’; a volume of serious verse, ‘Along the Way’; a volume of satirical and humorous sketches, ‘Theophilus and Others’; a second successful story for young people, ‘Donald and Dorothy,’ and a number of other works. Her stories evince an unusual faculty of construction and marked inventiveness,—inherited perhaps from her father,—truthful characterization, literary feeling, a strong sense of humor, and a high ethical standard. Her whimsical character sketch, ‘Miss Maloney on the Chinese Question,’ which has been reprinted thousands of times and repeated by every elocutionist in the land, is in its way as searching a satire as Bret Harte’s ‘Heathen Chinee.’  3
  Since its beginning in 1873, until a short time before her death, which occurred at Tannersville, New York, Aug. 21, 1905, Mrs. Dodge has edited the St. Nicholas Magazine, whose pages bear witness to her enormous industry.  4
 
 
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