Celia GarthI’ve been singing Gwen Bristow’s praises a lot lately; she’s a wonderful historical fiction writer who seems to have slipped from popular recognition. Keep an eye out for her books, published from 1926 to 1980, at garage sales, thrift stores, and used book stores.

Background:

Gwen Bristow, a child of the south, got her start as a journalist. Born in Marion, South Carolina, in 1903, she studied journalism at Columbia University in New York and took a job in New Orleans at the Times-Picayune after graduation. Bristow is best known for her historical fiction, and her first work in the genre was the Plantation TrilogyDeep Summer, Handsome Road, and This Side of Glory. The trilogy traces two Louisiana families from pre-Revolutionary War to World War I. Bristow has been profiled in Atlantic Monthly, New York Times Book Review, and Times Literary Supplement. Only two of Bristow’s books are currently in print — Jubilee Trail and Celia Garth.

Prices:

Because her early novels were written in the 1930s to 1950s and are rare, a “Good” copy will fetch hundreds of dollars. Currently on Alibris, Good to Very Good copies of Deep Summer (1937), Bristow’s first novel are listed from $250 to $300 (all are signed). Near Fine to Fine copies of Jubilee Trail (1950), a novel set in California during the Gold rush, are listed at $100. There are no Good or better copies of the first American edition of Celia Garth (1959), Bristow’s Revolutionary War novel (though strangely, there are two of the first British edition).

Bibliography*:

  1. The Alien, and Other Poems. Boston: R.G. Badger, 1926.
  2. The Invisible Host, with Bruce Manning. New York: Mystery League, 1930.
  3. The Gutenberg Murders, with Bruce Manning. New York: Mystery League ,1931.
  4. The Mardi Gras Murders, with Bruce Manning. New York: Mystery League, 1932.
  5. Two and Two Make Twenty-two, with Bruce Manning. New York: Mystery League, 1932.
  6. Deep Summer [Plantation Trilogy]. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell Co., 1937.
  7. The Handsome Road [Plantation Trilogy]. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell Co., 1938.
  8. This Side of Glory [Plantation Trilogy]. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell Co., 1940.
  9. Tomorrow Is Forever. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell Co., 1943.
  10. Jubilee Trail. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell Co., 1950.
  11. Celia Garth. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell Co., 1959.
  12. Calico Palace. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell Co., 1970.

*Note: The bibliography may not be complete, but includes all major works.

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