Sunday, December 25, 2016

HILDA VAN STOCKUM | Her Books (Updated Feb. 2, 2017)

Hilda van Stockum (1908-2006).
Dec. 25, 2016–Today is the 100th Anniversary of the memorial service for Inez Milholland Boissevain, who died on November 25, 1916 in Los Angeles. Inez's death played a significant considerable part in the passage in 1920 of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, recognizing the right of women to vote. Inez married my mother's uncle, Eugen Boissevain in 1913. 

An article I wrote about the centennial of the memorial ceremony for Inez and a dozen other blogposts in the last two months have generated a surge of interest in the books of my mother, Hilda van Stockum. See chart below and her photo (as an art student) at left.

Her 25 books for children and young adults were originally published by Harper & Brothers, Viking and Farrar Straus during the period 1934-1975, a span of 41 years. Her last book, which she thought was her best one, was The Borrowed House.

Of these books, 15 are currently available in English from three publishers in the United States. Her books are available in other languages from several foreign publishers (the Japanese edition of A Day on Skates and the Dutch edition of The Borrowed House are two examples).

Monthly page views,, end of Dec., 2016.
Graph of Blogger page views

Three U.S. publishers currently sell 15 HvS books in the English langage:

The Purple House Press reissued The Borrowed House in 2016. This extraordinary book takes us back to Hitler's occupation of Holland and presents the situation in Amsterdam from the perspective of a 12-year-old German girl in Hitler Youth who took as gospel Hitler's theories of racial superiority. These theories did not fit the reality she came to see in occupied Amsterdam.

Bethlehem Books sells eight HvS books. It took a lead in 1995 in reissuing some of her books that were out of print, notably The Winged Watchman (originally published by Farrar Straus). Other books currently sold by Bethlehem Books are A Day on Skates, the Irish Trilogy (The Cottage at Bantry BayFrancie on the Run and Pegeen), and the Mitchells Trilogy (The Mitchells or V for VictoryCanadian Summer and Friendly Gables).

Boissevain Books LLC sells six HvS books. It has in recent years reissued five HvS books that were out of print, including Little Old Bear, Patsy and the Pup, Kersti and St. Nicholas, Penengro, and King Oberon's Forest. It also sells Pamela Walks the Dog, originally published by Bethlehem Books. (Boissevain Books also issued a new edition of Olga Marlin's To Africa with a Dream, and Brigid Marlin's A Meaning for Danny and The Box House, and most recently published Kate Bodsworth's Princess Josephine and the Rainbow Dragon. Bois Books also sells a large-sized durable poster of Inez Milholland Boissevain, HvS's aunt.) In the pipeline for reissue are several more HvS books, including The Angel's Alphabet, Andries and Gerrit and the Organ. 
If you are interested in Holland, World War 2, Hitler's Occupation, the Resistance, or any of the other themes that Hilda van Stockum took up, her books continue to enlighten and enthrall. 

Click on the publisher's name above to have any of these books delivered to your door.

BLOG VIEWS | 40K – Top Posts

Hilda van Stockum (1908-2006)
This blog is about  the life, family, art and writing of Hilda van Stockum. 

It has just passed 40,000 page views.

Thank you for reading. Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and Best Wishes for 2017.

Below are the ten most-viewed posts during the last month.

PATSY AND THE PUP | "My Favorite Book," says Hachi...
Mar 31, 2016, 4 comments
HILDA VAN STOCKUM | Nov. 1–10th Anniversary of Her...
Oct 30, 2016
BRAM VAN STOCKUM | Expedition 1902-03
May 8, 2016
WW2 BOOKS | HvS Classic Jumps to #6 from #11 on Go...
Dec 23, 2015
HILDA VAN STOCKUM | Links to Relatives
Jun 7, 2016, 1 comment
KIN | Boissevain Reunion, April 16-17, 2016, Amste...
Oct 8, 2015
ART | HvS Collections, Exhibits, Sales (Updated No...
Oct 25, 2015
HvS | Eleven Poems
Oct 2, 2016, 1 comment
HvS | RHA Exhibitions, 1990-2000
Sep 16, 2016
BOISSEVAIN | Gens 0-6 (Updated July 1, 2016)
Mar 30, 2016

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

HvS IN VERMONT | Painting, Trapp Family Lodge, 1950

Hilda van Stockum doing a plein air demo of her painting at
or near the Trapp Family Lodge in Stowe, Vt. In the background
is surely Mt. Mansfield, Vermont's highest peak.
The photo at left appears to be from a visit of HvS to the Trapp Family Lodge in Stowe, Vt. in about 1950.

The Marlins spent a few weeks at a Music Camp at the Lodge in about 1947, right after the death of Georg [von]* Trapp.

We all learned to play instruments – especially the recorder – and to sing in parts. Most of the music was religious because the Trapps' brilliant but forgotten (i.e., not in the script of the Sound of Music) musicologist was Fr. Franz Wasner.

The Trapp Family Lodge  experience kindled a desire by our Dad to expose us to more culture and led to the multi-week vacation trips that we took around Europe in our Volkswagen bus in 1954-55.

A photo of HvS from around 1950.
Maria [von] Trapp ran the camp with a firm and businesslike hand. She invited Mom to return to provide one of the activities for Lodge visitors – plein air painting. So Mom painted for her supper and was invited back several times, according to her daughter Lis.


*The "von" is in square brackets because it helps identify Maria Trapp as the wife of "Baron" von Trapp, who became famous through the movie The Sound of Music. When the Trapps became U.S. citizens, they forswore titles, and the "von" in the German language connotes nobility. (In Dutch, it does not.)

Corvette Captain Georg Johannes Ritter [Knight] von Trapp (1880–1947), incorrectly referred to in The Sound of Music as Baron [Freiherr] von Trapp, earned his fame as WW1 Austro-Hungarian Navy officer.  Submarines SM U-5 and SM U-14 under his command sank 13 Allied ships totaling about 45,669 gross register tons. Following Austria-Hungary's defeat and  collapse, Trapp returned to his family but in 1922 lost his first wife to scarlet fever. Most of his children were by his first wife.

Five years later, Georg von Trapp married his children's governess, former novice Maria Augusta Kutschera, who trained the children to sing and perform to earn money after most family wealth was wiped out by a bank failure. After the Anschluss, von Trapp refused to serve in the Nazi Navy. Instead, he fled to Italy and then to the United States, where he bought a farm in Vermont and lived there until his death in 1947. The Lodge is now run by a grandson of Georg and Maria von Trapp.

Monday, December 5, 2016

IRELAND | Is Francie Based on Francis O'Neil? Yes and No

When Ireland Was Poor.
Francie on the Run is the second of my late mother Hilda van Stockum's "Irish Trilogy", which starts with The Cottage at Bantry Bay and ends with Pegeen. The books were originally published by Viking Press when the children's book editor was the truly great May Massee.

My Mom told me that Massee urged her to stick with the old rural Ireland that she knew, where children like her (she lived in Ireland as well as Holland when she was growing up) ran barefoot. Some of Mom's Irish friends wanted her to show that Dublin and other urban areas were catching up, becoming more like New York City. All the more reason, said Massee, to capture the way it once was.

The three Irish books had a huge following during the late 1930s into the 1950s. In the 1960s the fashion in children's literature started to shift to diversity issues and the portrayal of long-ago family life was crowded out in the schools by newer books. Viking let the books go out of print. Bethlehem Books in North Dakota loved the Irish Trilogy and they reissued the books and have kept them in print. Catholic homeschoolers love the book and doubtless many of them have Irish roots.

The year after my mother died, in September 2007, I was delighted to received this message from Francis Joseph O'Neil:
I knew Hilda van Stockum from Georgetown, Washington DC. I ran away and went to the zoo at age three. The zoo was about six miles from my home on M Street. A policeman at the zoo asked me where my parents were and when I couldn’t tell him he took me to the police station. I remember them setting me up on the desk way up high in the policeman’s chair and it had two lights, one on each side. The lights had a long slender post with a globe of white glass mounted on top and I remember then bringing me ice cream. They eventually found my father [William John O’Neil] and took me home. The story of my runaway made its way into the Washington papers and soon after your mother contacted my parents. That’s how I came to know her. From what I can remember she became a good friend of my mother [Virginia Dare O’Neil]. We lived at 3029 M Street and I believed your mother lived up the hill from me about R street [it was 3728 Northampton Street]. I remember my brother and I [the other two boys in the family are Robert Evert O'Neil and Regis Terrence O'Neil] went to your mother’s house to sit for her illustrations. Years later, I heard from my parents that I might have been the inspiration for Francie. I am very sorry to hear of your mother’s death and wish I could have found her before she passed away. 
Francis O'Neil (Opp, AL)" [Opp is on the southern end of Alabama, near the Florida border. It is called Opp because it is a “City of Opportunity”.]
I have been doing some followup research on the origin of the Irish books. The Cottage at Bantry Bay I had heard was based at least partly on the Murray family. Some members of the Murray family  came to stay with us. On Francis O'Neil's claim, I can report:
  • Yes indeed, the drawings and character of Francie in Francie on the Run do seem to be based on Francis O'Neil.
  • However, the character of Francie in the earlier book, The Cottage at Bantry Bay, is not. 
  • The O'Sullivan family is based on the Murray family, which really did include twins–Francie and Liam–and an older boy called Michael and a girl called Brigid (Bridey). 
  • The character of Francie in Francie on the Run is much more independent and from information collected from my sibs Olga, Brigid, Sheila and Lis, it appears that the character of the older Francie and the drawings of him in the book are based on Francie O’Neil.
HvS got to know the Murray family (possibly as many as nine Murray children) when May Murray worked for Olga van Stockum, HvS’s mother, in Ireland in the late 1920s. May was reportedly a bit in love with Jan, HvS’s younger brother. HvS’s world-class editor, May Massee, insisted that the family be pruned down to four for The Cottage at Bantry Bay. Francie Murray came to visit the Marlin family in Blackrock, Dublin when the Marlins moved there in 1952. Bridey stayed with the Marlins later on Harbour Road in Dalkey.

Much later, in Canada, May and Agnes Murray came to work for HvS when her mother, our granny, was ill (and eventually died) in 1949.

It would be good to find the original story in the Washington Post or wherever it was. I did a Google search and nothing came up that looked plausible given Francis O'Neil's age. But Regis Terrence O'Neil came up and it appears to be Francie's brother, born in 1934 in Ohio, same age as my eldest sister Olga:

Regis Terrence O'Neil (Brother of Francis, "Francie" in Francie on the Run) Born March 3, 1934 in Ohio Mother born in West Virginia Father: William John O'Neil, born in Pittsburgh, Pa. Source: Ohio Birth Index, 1908-2011, record count #13,254,340, Ohio Dept. of Health. File date: March 8, 1934. Certificate Number: 1934019747