Author of The Rivers of America and Series Americana shares her story
Carol Fitzgerald, author of The Rivers of America: A Descriptive Bibliography and Series Americana: Post Depression-Era Regional Literature, 1938-1980, A Descriptive Bibliography, writes about the joy she experienced in researching and writing these titles.
Who knew? Who could possibly have foreseen that the casual purchase at the Miami Book Fair in 1986 of The St. Johns: A Parade of Diversities by A.J. Hanna and Branch Cabell, a fifteen-dollar volume in the Rivers of America series, would be the seminal moment – and the beginning for what would become two major collections of Series Americana. This purchase would result in my writing two, two-volume bibliographies, both published by Oak Knoll Press in association with the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress. It’s a story that changed my life and helped to preserve a body of mid-twentieth century Series Americana defining a period of American literature through its folkways, history, geography, and its publishers, editors, writers, and illustrators, that might otherwise have been fragmented and lost as a literary treasure.
Writing a book and having it published can be a satisfying experience, especially when working with a respected publisher like Oak Knoll Press in partnership with the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress. But it was my research for the writing of first, The Rivers of America: A Descriptive Bibliography and, later, Series Americana: Post-Depression Era Regional Literature that I will remember and treasure. In addition to bibliographical information, I included in each book biographies of the authors, illustrators, editors, and cartographers, creating a story of each book covered in the two bibliographies. The joy of discovering obscure facts about the books or the authors and illustrators helped me write human stories of the men and women who wrote, illustrated, and edited the books covered in my work.
The individual books described were the foundation, but it was the people – the talent – their excellence in their craft – that made the books a powerful part of the American literary scene in a time dominated by the Great Depression and three wars. My research led to correspondence with authors, illustrators, and sometimes their children and colleagues, and resulted in some extraordinary friendships that continue today. Of course, a good book is a good book, but behind even a good book there is a publisher, an author, an editor, and sometimes an illustrator or cartographer. Each plays an integral part in the success of the book, and, for me, a series of books. I wanted to tell the story of each in order to tell the story of the whole.
These thoughts pertain to more than twenty years of research and writing and the pleasures of seeing the publication of the two books that resulted. Oak Knoll Press and the Library of Congress had major roles in all this, and I extend my sincere thanks to all who worked with me in creating these two books.
Click here for more information on The Rivers of America: A Descriptive Bibliography and click here for more information on Series Americana: Post Depression-Era Regional Literature, 1938-1980, A Descriptive Bibliography.