Right in my Own Backyard - My Favorite Indiana Author - by Brandt Carter
posted: Jun. 09, 2022
My Favorite Indiana Author
I can't tell you the first time I picked up a Gene Stratton Porter book, but I know I was an adult. That first book was Freckles, a romance about a young orphan who guards the timber of the Limberlost (a marsh near Ft. Wayne, IN) and a young girl he calls the "Swamp Angel." This novel was made into a movie in 1935 and 1960. Freckles began my love affair with this strong, before-her-time Indiana author who wrote novels to support serious nature writing, photography, and environmental activism. Porter wrote books, magazine articles, and made movies from about 1901-36.
Gene Stratton Porter was born with a love of nature. The youngest in a family of 12 children, she tended the birds of her father's farm and proved herself an avid student of wildlife in the process. After her marriage to Charles Porter, a local businessman, she became a passionate photographer, lugging her big box camera into the marshes and swamps around Geneva, IN. The countryside was her inspiration. She wrote about the myriad flowers, fauna, and birds that touched her life. She championed conservation and lobbied against oil and lumber companies exploiting the marshes.
During her lifetime, Porter's books sold more than 10 million copies and were translated into numerous languages. Her debut novel was The Song of the Cardinal (1903).
This love story about two cardinals is one of my favorite gifts for anniversaries or weddings. She owned a motion picture studio in California and successfully managed the construction of her homes in northern Indiana and California (Bel Air and Catalina Island).
Her romance novels are easy to find today, and reader copies are very affordable. Her nature books are more difficult to come by and cost a good deal more. Any of the following will be a good acquisitions: The Song of the Cardinal, 1903; What I Have Done with Birds, 1907; Birds of the Bible, 1909; Music of the Wild, 1910; Moths of the Limberlost, 1912; Birds of the Limberlost, 1914; Homing with the Birds: The History of a Lifetime of Personal Experience with the Birds, 1919; Tales You Won't Believe, 1925. Don't forget that you also can look to a library for her books (reprints) to experience a wonderful Hoosier read.