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Points of confusion
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 Points of  Confusion: Mistaken identies of an anonymous author.

by K Cummings Pipes, July 2007
last updated October 2014

 Evelyn Whitaker's dates (1857-1903)  taken from the Cambridge Bibliography of English Literature and from  library card catalogs are not birth/death years but publishing career years.  1903 is the year that author's name was revealed.  The 1857 date is probably a cataloging error resulting from a confusion of titles. Evelyn Whitaker was born in 1844 and died in 1929.

Points of confusion arise when books  written by anonymous authors are honestly misattributed to others.  Old library catalogs are a treasure trove of information but they are not always complete nor are they always accurate since they reflect title page information.  Anonymous authors and pirated editions cause problems for library catalogers.  Library catalogs are not always updated when new information about writers' identities becomes available.  Errors are picked up by others and proliferate. 
  •  Galenet, a literature resource center used by libraries including the Houston Public Library,lists several Evelyn Whitaker titles--Miss Toosey's Mission, Laddie, Tip Cat, Our Little Ann, Pen--among the writings of Elizabeth Thomasine Meade (Mrs. Toulmin Smith).  This error may have arisen from a volume of Miss Toosey's Mission published by M. A. Donohue & Co. (Chicago) in 1903 which named Mrs. Meade on the cover.  L.T. Meade is the author of the material which was added to the back of the book, Tanglewood Tales,a children's introduction to assic myths. 

 

The most likely source is an early misidentification by Mr. Allibone

 "The publishers of  Miss Toosey's Mission and its successors have recently written to an inquiring librarian:  'While we can assure you that Mr. Allibone is in error in stating that the author of Miss Toosey's Mission is Mrs. Elizabeth Thomas Meade Smith, we must also state that it is the author's wish that the name be unknown, and we cannot, therefore, give you any information.  Yours truly Little Brown and Co."

 

Library Journal, November 1898. Volume 23, page 644.

 "Several works for children, published anonymously, — " Miss Toosey's Mission," and others by the same writer, — have been erroneously ascribed to Mrs. Smith. The lady by whom those books were written desires that her name be not made public."
A Supplement to Allibone's Critical Dictionary of English Literature...
by John Foster Kirk, 1891.  

digitzed by Google.

 

L.T. Meade  published many other books for girls.  The W. & R. Chambers issue of  Don in this collection includes a publisher's catalog listing many titles by L.T. Meade.  It also contains a separate listing of titles by "the author of Laddie" e.g. Evelyn Whitaker. 

 Points of confusion arise when  publishers issue pirated editions and credit other authors.  Remember International Copyright Law was not enforced in the US until 1891. 

  •  Miss Toosey's Mission, first published prior to 1879, had no copyright protection in the U.S. and was subject to abuse.  To a  lesser extent so was Laddie.  Roberts Brothers and then Little Brown & Company (both of Boston) are the U.S. publishers who held the rights to the titles by Evelyn Whitaker and their attributions may be trusted.  British copyright was secured much earlier so British publishers' attributions and catalog citations should be given more credence than U.S. sources.  British copyright  to Evelyn Whitaker's works were held by A.D. Innes, Walter Smith (Mozely), and W. & R. Chambers  and their attributions may be trusted.  Attributions by U.S. publishers, other than Roberts Brothers and Little, Brown, and Co., are suspect. 

  •  As late as December 1898, A. D. Porter published an issue of People's Magazine Monthly with such a pirated edition.  The publication which is part of this collection has a paperback cover which features an article provocatively entitled Miss Toosey's Lover by Bertha C. Clay.  Inside page headings indicate the title is Miss Toosey's Mission by Charlotte M. Braeme

 Charlotte a.k.a Bertha is not the author of Miss Toosey's Mission.  She did however have an interesting history as an author; she pirated her own books from her British publishers and sold them to American publishers who made free use of her name or rather names.  

 Points of confusion arise when  authors have similar names
  •  Evelyn Maud Whitaker is also a writer of books for children.  She is a bit later than Evleyn Whitaker, author of Laddie, Tip Cat, etc. and her books are for very young children.  Her titles include:
      • Bee, Paul, and Babs
      • Bumper book for children
      • My own book of pictures and stories
      • Peter's adventures
      • etc.

 Points of confusion arise when different books have the same or similar titles.  Especially when the authors are anonymous, the similarity may lead to cases of mistaken identity.

  •  Laddie by Evelyn Whitaker was first published anonymously in 1879.  It is the story of a successful doctor, his wealthy fiance Violet, and his old country mother.  Because it was first published before U.S. publishers were forced to respect British copyright, it is sometimes attributed to others.  The converse is also true:  other books not written by Evelyn Whitaker are sometimes published as "by the author of Laddie..."


  •  Laddie by Gene Stratton Porter (1862-1924), sub-titled A True Blue Story is the classic dog tale and was first published in 1913.

 

  • Laddie & Lassie, a story for little lads and lassies is a nursery book for very young children by Mary Dow Brine nee Northam.  There is a 1902 edition published by W. & R. Chambers, although it may be a reissue.  Since Evelyn Whitaker also wrote a book entitled Lassie there is ample opportunity for mistaken identities.


Evelyn Whitaker Library is a physical archive of print materials concerning a late Victorian author. This website is a digital exhibition of that archive. It is also the place where I publish the results of my research into the life and writings of Evelyn Whitaker.
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K Cummings Pipes. Evelyn Whitaker Library. http://www.evelynwhitakerlibrary.org/
 
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