I was in a thrift store the other day when a book caught my eye.
The Pipe Organ in the Parlor; Lilla Stirling; illustrated by Charles Geer, Thomas Nelson & Sons, New York, 1960.
It was a book for juvenile readers in 1960. The title page really got my attention since it had a full-page inscription from the author to her Grand Niece. What was both intriguing, insightful, and revealing was the author’s update. The penultimate statement in the book reads as follows:
“High, high are their hopes, for their chieftain has said; that whatever men dare they can do.”
In the author’s personal inscription dated 1978, she quoted the above statement and added:
“This applies to women as well (today 100%).
This book became more intriguing when I read the author’s biography on the back flap of the dust jacket:
The author was born, raised, and educated in Nova Scotia, before continuing her education in the United States and Europe, before settling in Connecticut as a schoolteacher.
The text is very charming and well illustrated by Charles Geer, who was a well-known childrens’ book illustrator.
The text does not state a location, other than it was on the seacoast. Was it New England or in the Maritimes? This is where I became confused and complexed. Is this book a work of a Canadian author or an American author?
I looked at the text, and it was full of references to Scottish heritage, including specific mentions of clans. And the following photo sure looked Nova Scotian to me:
I researched the author, but there is nothing on her on Wikipedia or other data sites. And there were no other copies of this book on the internet – except for print-on-demand copies of this book starting in 2021, that does indicate a continuing interest of a rare item. So, it was rare but, evidently, invisible item. So, I went onto Abebooks and entered her name to see what other titles might come up. There were a few:
- Jockie: A Story of Prince Edward Island, 1951
- Gretchen of Grand Pré, 1967
- The Stowaway Piper, 1961
- The Jolly Season, 1948
- Anne of St. Annes, 1981
While this book does not mention the location of the story, it is full of Scottish surnames and connections of the story to Scotland.
I was all set to declare Lilla Stirling a Canadian author and writer based upon circumstantial evidence, when Glenda, lifetime and business partner, pointed out the preface statement that I had missed but something that trumped circumstantial evidence:
Welcome to the world of long-forgotten Nova Scotian/Canadian childrens’ author Lilla Stirling!