Thursday, September 13, 2012

BRIGID MARLIN | New Book–"A Meaning for Danny"

Cover of "A Meaning for Danny".
Hilda van Stockum's gift for writing keeps on giving. Her daughter Brigid has now joined her older sister Olga in writing her memoirs. Olga's book is about her 60 years' work educating girls in Africa (you can order "To Africa with a Dream" from Amazon).

Brigid's book is focused on the first-born of her three sons, Danny. It is called "A Meaning for Danny" and it is about the difficulties of identifying mental illness in a child and determining what can be done.

The book is well written and entertaining. Brigid can't help writing down the moments of humor as well as the moments of depression in her long struggle to understand the nature and implications's of Danny's illness. The comic relief is crucial for keeping the reader going. Otherwise the series of unexpected discouraging events would have been too much for the parents. Each discouraging event forcing the parents to lower their expectations for Danny.

Ultimately, the unsolvable problem that Danny had was a combination of epilepsy and autism (what might be called today Asperger's Disease). Each could be treated by drugs, but what worked for one exacerbated the other. The desperation that this realization caused in the boy's parents intensified as more information was revealed. Yet this too passed, and the book ends on a philosophical note that should provide some comfort to many parents of children with mental illness.

I can't imagine the book not being helpful for anyone with a child in the family suffering from mental illness. I have sent a copy to the Executive Directors of the National Alliance on Mental Illness in Arlington, VA and the state chapter in Albany, NY. They both have a lending library that utilizes the U.S. mail. The book can be purchased for less than $12 from Amazon.

This blog is sponsored by Boissevain Books, which publishes books by Hilda van Stockum and her daughter Brigid Marlin. To buy a book, go to

MARLINS | Reunion of 4 in Berkhamsted

John, Lis, Sheila, Brigid Marlin, a.k.a. Timmy, Catherine, Angela, Patsy Mitchell.
Photo by Alice Tepper Marlin. Painting by Brigid Marlin.
I am visiting my three sisters in the UK - Lis, Sheila and Brigid. We have just had dinner at Brigid's house in Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire, UK. The painting behind us is by Brigid and signifies the attempt by a young girl to repair a wounded church symbolized by the dove.

We have 11 children among us, grandchildren of Hilda van Stockum and Spike Marlin. Lis and Sheila have multiple grandchildren and they are writing a book together on caring for grandchildren. I was surprised to learn that people who care for grandchildren have a lower life expectancy than those who do not. When I cogitated on why this might be so, it made sense, mostly because of whose children are likely to be in the care of grandparents, and the challenges that small children pose for older carers.

Alice and I are on our way to Oxford for the Alumni Weekend.
House at 8 Castle Hill, Berkhamsted, formerly owned by
Hilda van Stockum after Spike's death in 1994.

At the bottom of Castle Hill, near the top which is Brigid's house, before dinner, I snapped a photo of the former home of Hilda van Stockum at 8 Castle Hill. Between the time of E R ("Spike") Marlin's death in 1994 and HvS's own death 2006, the house suffered a bit on the maintenance. The renovations seem to be timely. Spike extended the dining room in the front and built a  studio in the back. It's not clear what is being done with the studio.

During the days when Spike was alive he would buy frames at auctions and would then have canvases made to fit them. He bought gorgeous frames at knock-down prices because who could use the frames but artists, and how many of them went to auctions?

From left: Sheila, Brigid, Lis, Alice (behind Liz). Photo
by John Tepper Marlin.
Brigid and Alice prepared a delicious meal with a whole fish and lots of veggies. The dining room is filled with art and sculptures by Brigid and her artistic colleagues. Brigid is deeply involved in promoting the hundreds of artists who are members of the Society of Art of Imagination.

Sheila's High Elms Manor has become a great success as an events venue since it was chosen as the subject of a "Country House Rescue" show.

Lis has retired from full-time work as a medical dean but continues to consult, mentor and write, as well as help care for her grandchildren. She is working on a project to integrate the various components of services provided by medical teams. The teams try to ensure that there is a common plan for the patient's route to wellness. It seemed to overlap with the management systems element of the SA8000 workplace standard.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Hilda van Stockum - June Was Busting Out

Sometimes we can infer one thing from another.

We know that Hilda van Stockum's Winged Watchman has sold more than 42,000 copies since it was allowed to go out of print by its original publisher, Farrar Straus. This book by my late mother continues to sell 2,500 new copies a year through Bethlehem Books. In addition, there is an active used-copy market that operates through Amazon and various on-line bookstores.

Now, put that together with the fact that the site reports the number of hits every month. The daily average is ordinarily about 300 per month. In May 2012, that number doubled. In June the daily average bust out to 1,900 average hits per day and in July it went to 2,500.

Ladies and gentlemen - I conclude that "The Winged Watchman" is on a lot of summer reading lists, and the lists are including links to the author's websites. So in July every year several things are happening:
1. Parents and their chilldren are checking on the author to decide which books to read.
2. The girls and boys are writing their book reports and they are web-surfing to prepare author notes.
3. Who knows, maybe some parents are web-surfing to check on the credibility of the author.

Also, I conclude that if 2,500 people per day in July are checking in on the author, the ratio of new books sold to books read has to be a small number like 1:20 or 1:10. The combination of 42,000 used books in circulation and local library availability means that readers don't actually have to buy a new book.

God bless young readers, and older readers, and buyers, every one!

John ("Timmy" Mitchell)