Sunday, August 14, 2011

Blanche Bloor Schleppey

Blanche Bloor Schleppey (b. near Edinburgh, Indiana, 8 August 1861; d. Indianapolis, Indiana, 13 February 1927)

A Hoosier writer of short stories and newspaper features, Blanche D. Bloor was born near Edinburgh, Indiana, on 8 August 1861, and educated at the Oldenburg Academy, a Catholic high school. She married John Hart Schleppey (1861-1946) in 1887, and moved to Crawfordsville, where she lived across the street from Lew Wallace, the Civil War general and author of Ben Hur (1880).  Moving to Indianapolis in 1893, Schleppey began to write illustrated feature articles for the Indianapolis Sentinel and other newspapers.  She was also active in women’s clubs in the city.   

Her only book was the now very rare short story collection, The Soul of a Mummy and Other Stories (1908).  Privately printed and self-published, it contains eleven stories, most of which, despite the book’s title, are only marginally weird. (The title story concerns a bachelor sent to Cairo to procure a mummy for a private collection.  A young woman escapes her father by hiding in the mummy case.  The bachelor helps her and they marry.)  Schleppey was ill with a tumor and confined to her home for the last ten years of her life.  She died in a hospital in Indianapolis in February 1927 at the age of sixty-five. She is buried at the Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis. 

Her final publication, a “Sonnet to My Doctor”, appeared in Indiana Poetry (1925), compiled by Eletha Mae Taylor.  Her only child, son Bloor Schleppey (1888-1975), was a newspaper reporter for the Keith Syndicate, and later became nationally-known as a strike-breaker for newspaper publishers. In 1973 he self-published a small book, Plow Deep and Straight, a selection from his weekly newspaper column, “The Furrow”, which had appeared in The Zionsville Times of Zionsville, Indiana, from 1935-1971.  The columns are deeply conservative politically, a label of which Bloor Schleppey was quite proud.

Despite the dates of the columns being given on the cover as beginning in 1921, the columns range from 1935-1971

NB: An earlier version of this entry appeared in my column "Notes on Lost and Forgotten Writers" in All Hallows, no. 42 (October 2006). 

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