3 yellow roses

Phronsie Peppper

The youngest of the "Five Little Peppers"
by Margaret Sidney
author of:
The Five Little Peppers and How They Grew, D. Lothrop, 1881
Illustrated by Arthur Becher
Published by Grosset & Dunlap, New York.
Copyright, 1807, by Lthrop Publishing Company

That's the information in this old copy I have in hand. Doing some research online I made some exciting discoveries about the author of the Five Little Peppers and How They Grew, a book that I received for Christmas shortly after I learned to read at about age seven, and I read it over many times to my younger siblings.

Until this Phronsie Pepper book came into my hands just before Christmas 2005 I had no idea that the author had written a series about this delightful family. I really knew nothing of it at all until I put her name into Google.

It turns out this woman was famous for writing a whole series about that poor Pepper family back in Queen Victoria's day. She was part of the very begining of books written expressly for children, and in series no less! I had no idea!

First, I should say about this particular book, that I enjoyed it a lot. In this book, Phronsie, the cute baby in the Five Peppers book is grown up, but not married yet. Her romance is the centre of this story. However, there are little nieces and nephews in the book, so it is still very much a family book.

I guess I have grown up some over the last fifty years, and got used to our modern media, because I sure did notice the sweetness of the victorian touch, yet I found it strangely a relief from the bluntness and harshness of much of today's literature.

Was I ever glad to see some godly parenting and teaching of moral standards woven right into the story as if it belonged there. No apologies.

In this book Phronsie Pepper ends up going aboard with Mr. King their long-time benefactor, who has become their beloved grandfather. He is trying to make up for the fact that he drove away the young man that wanted to propose to Phronsie, because he thinks he will be deprived of his pet. She ends up nursing that young man back to health, and of course, does marry him.

The further I read, the more I began to prize this book. The hard cover is a plain brown, and the pages are also browned with age, but it makes wonderful reading, and I shall treasure it until just the right neice or great-niece is ripe for it.

In case you have not "discovered" this author before, let me share with you what I've found today.

Margaret Sidney was the pen name of Harriett Mulford Stone Lothrop. There is a delightful write up on her life and writings on the ReadSeries.com site by Norma Bright Carson, who interviewed Mrs. Lothrop herself. Carson describes how Lothrop entertained herself with the Pepper children in her daydreams for years before she entered a short story in a magazine, and then another, and then the requests began to pour in for a whole book. Then more books!

The Lothrops lived in the same house where Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Louisa May Alcott (at different times) had lived, and she did much to preserve the place, as well as other homes of well- known authors of that day. Her husband was a publisher, and they were very much a part of the publishing scene in New England.

I learned of the other titles, and I see that most of them have been published online at the Project Gutenberg. The Series by Margaret Sidney;

* Five Little Peppers and How They Grew (1880) Online at Project Gutenberg

* Five Little Peppers Midway (1890) Online at Project Gutenberg

* Five Little Peppers Grown Up (1892) Online at Project Gutenberg

* Phronsie Pepper, the Youngest of the Five Little Peppers (1897)

* Stories Polly Pepper Told (1899)

* Adventures of Joel Pepper (1900) Online at Project Gutenberg

* Five Little Peppers Abroad (1902) Online at Project Gutenberg

* Five Little Peppers at School (1903)

* Five Little Peppers and their Friends (1904) Online at Project Gutenberg

* Ben Pepper (1905)

* Five Little Peppers in the Little Brown House (1907)

* Our Davie Pepper (1916)

I haven't checked each book individually, but if it appears on the Gutenberg.org site, it is most likely in the public domain and you are free to put that book on your web site or create an e-book of it to give away. Or, I suppose you can sell it if you produce in a unique or special way.

ReadSeries.com/ collects OLD childrens's series and has background info and lists. Five Little Peppers book is on Acacia.pair.com! I found most of the chapters there at any rate. Part of the Joel Pepper book is at online-literature.com.

Obviously, I haven't come to the bottom of this. Now I must read the rest if I possibly can!

Perhaps you are such a thoroughly modern Milly, that you do not care for old Victorian era children's series, but if you have never tried them, I think you ought to do the fair and tolerant thing, and read at least one or two of these books about the Pepper family. Give yourself permission to enjoy the moment by moment scenes or ordinary life in a family where the siblings love each other most of the time, and truly care for one another no matter what befalls them.

You are bound to come away refreshed and wishing for such kind relationships in your own life.

So far I haven't discovered too exotic prices for these old books if you find one, except that on Amazon you can get a used one for over $30, and some in worse shape for less. However, you should feel free to download and read the free editions off of the Guttenberg.org site, and of course print them out if you prefer them on paper.

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Ruth Marlene Friesen

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