Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Bernadine Bailey

Bernadine Bailey (b. Mattoon, Illinois, 12 November 1901; d. Illinois, 21 October 1995)

Bernadine Bailey (née Freeman) spent most of her life in the Chicago area, save for the time she was away at school (Wellesley College, B.A.; University of Chicago, M.A.; and Sorbonne, University of Paris, certificate), and a period she spent in Indianapolis after her marriage to hospital scientist John Hays Bailey. By the mid-1930s she was back in Chicago, where she worked for various publishers and as a free-lance writer.  For a time she was directing staff editor for Childcraft, a long popular educational series for children published first by W.F. Quarrie Co. and afterwards by Field Enterprises (later bought out by World Book). From the 1930s through the 1970s he published a huge number of nonfiction books for children (some by-lined Bernadine Freeman Bailey), one of the earliest being The Follett Picture-Story Book of Indians (1936). 

It was probably during her time in Indianapolis around 1930 that she became friends with Evangeline Ensley (1907-1996), who wrote as "Evangeline Walton". When Ensley was visiting Chicago in the summer of 1935, it was Bernadine Bailey who took her to meet Llewellyn Jones (1884-1961), then the literary editor at Willett, Clark and Company.  Jones was initially wary of the young woman and her manuscript (afterwards saying that he feared she was a schoolteacher, and he'd just read another schoolteacher's manuscript and hadn't liked it), but when he and others in the firm came to read the manuscript of The Virgin and the Swine (more familiarly known to modern readers as The Island of the Mighty as it was retitled when it was republished in 1970), they were impressed and brought out the first edition in November 1936.  Llewellyn Jones took a great interest in Miss Ensley, and planned to publish her novel Witch's House* in the fall of 1937, and was impressed with some of her short stories, a volume of which he thought would enhance her reputation as a writer. Alas, none of these plans came to pass, for relations with Willett, Clark soured very abruptly around May 1937, after Ensley made a visit to Chicago and stopped at her publishers, presumably to inquire why she had never been paid.  It was the first of her many disappointments with publishers. Llewellyn Jones also left Willett, Clark later that year. In 1946 Bernadine Bailey assisted Ensley in recovering the copyright of The Virgin and the Swine from Willett, Clark, two years before the remaining assets of the firm were sold off to Harpers.

Bernadine Bailey and Evangeline Ensley remained good friends.  The scans accompanying this entry are taken from items sent to Ensley by Bailey (courtesy of Louise Hammond).

*Published as Witch House by August Derleth's Arkham House in 1945.

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