Carolyn Sherwin Bailey was born in Hoosick Falls New York on October 25, 1875. She grew up in an intellectual and encouraging home; her mother Emma Frances Bailey, was a mathematics teacher and a writer and her father, Charles Henry Bailey, was a metallurgist who worked in South America, Canada and the American South. Both of Bailey’s parents told stories and read with her, which encouraged her own creative talents. In her 1947 Newbery Acceptance Speech, Bailey remarked that her beginnings came from a “Victorian childhood” that taught her lessons like “a lady never expresses her feelings” after a child’s tantrum but that also presented her with creativity from her grandmother’s “pioneer childhood”. At age five, from a story dictated to her mother, Bailey won a twenty-five dollar prize in a “Write Your Own Stories” contest. By age nineteen she was writing fiction and poems for The Youth’s Companion and St. Nicholas. However, Bailey was not satisfied with just writing; like her mother, Carolyn was interested in teaching and social work and went to the Teachers College Columbia, as well as the Montessori School in Rome and then eventually the New York School of Social Work. It was from her time at these three institutions that Bailey began focusing on child psychology and the teaching of kindergarten. Bailey began teaching kindergartens in New York and then moved to writing and editing for magazines. She was the editor of American Childhood from 1924 to 1935. Bailey also adapted many adult works for children and edited other works as well as writing on her own. In 1936, Bailey married Eben Clayton Hill, a noted radiologist from Johns Hopkins University. The couple then moved back to Hill’s family home in Temple, New Hampshire, on an apple farm where Bailey would spend her summers for the last years of her life (she would winter in New York City). Bailey’s writing also began to change; she went from writing educational texts and stories to prose and fiction. Bailey was very interested in writing the “untold stories of boys and girls who helped make [America] a great nation”. Her series on colonial life and games and crafts from America’s past were bestsellers during her life. Her rural childhood and then married life in New Hampshire provided Bailey with inspiration for many of her stories, including her best known Newbery winner, Miss Hickory. In 1945, on a trip to Florida for a writing assignment, Bailey was separated from her typewriter and struck with a severe case of hay fever. As she had to write something, Bailey got a hold of some paper and tried to write but she was so homesick she could not come up with an idea. Thinking about her New Hampshire home, however, reminded her of the dolls her grandmother had made for her as a child and Miss Hickory was born. Bailey continued to write after her husband’s death; her last book published was Little Red Schoolhouse (1957). Carolyn Sherwin Bailey died in Temple on December 23, 1961.
The illustrator of Miss Hickory is Ruth Chrisman Gannett, illustrator of My Father’s Dragon, Hi-Po, the Hippo and more. She was an artist from Southern California and was born in 1896. She was not interested in telling stories with words. Instead, she realized that stories could be told using images and pursued an artistic career. Like Bailey, Gannett, who studied at the University of California at Berkeley, taught after receiving her degree. She lived in New York during the 1920s but found the area too overwhelming. In 1931, Gannett married her second husband Lewis Gannett, and she found herself drawing pictures to connect with her step children (including Ruth Stiles Gannett, author of My Father’s Dragon). She illustrated books for adults and children over her career and received a Caldecott Honor for My Mother is the Most Beautiful Woman in the World in 1946. Bailey commented that “Miss Hickory wouldn’t have been a book without [Ruth Chrisman Gannett]” in 1947. Gannett died in Connecticut on December 8, 1979.
For More Information About Carolyn Sherwin Bailey:
Bailey, Carolyn Sherwin. "Miss Hickory: Her Genealogy." The Horn Book Magazine Vol 23, no. 4 (July/August 1947): 238- 242.
"Bailey, Carolyn Sherwin." Junior Book of Authors, 2nd Edition. 1951. Junior Authors Electronic.Web. 4 October 2011.
"Carolyn Sherwin Bailey." Contemporary Authors Online Detroit: Gale, 2003.
Davis, Dorothy R. The Carolyn Sherwin Bailey Historical Collection of Children's Books: A Catalogue.
Hamden, CT: Columbia Printing Company. 1967.
Lindquist, Jennie D. "Books and an Apple Orchard." The Horn Book Magazine Vol. 23, no. 4 (July/August 1947): 243-249.
For More Information About Ruth Chrisman Gannett:
"Gannett, Ruth Chrisman." More Junior Authors. 1963. Biography Reference Bank. Web. 4 October 2011.
Meg Cichantk LIS 719-99