Eleanor Hodgeman Porter, an author most renowned for her
best-selling novel "Pollyanna," was born December 19, 1862 in
Littleton, New Hampshire. Her family had strong roots in New
England; she was a direct descendent of Governor William
Bradford, who came over on the Mayflower. She was educated in
public schools during her childhood until illness caused her to
turn to private tutors. She then attended the New England
Conservatory of Music in Boston, Massachusetts. She made a
successful career for herself singing in concerts and church
choirs, which she continued after marrying businessman John
Lyman Porter on May 3, 1892. The Porters lived in a wide
variety of places during the next decade including Chattanooga,
Tennessee, New York City, and Springfield, Vermont. By the time
they had settled down in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in around
1901, Porter had turned from music to writing.
She began by writing short stories which were printed in
popular women's magazines. In 1907, at the age of 45, Porter
published her first novel, "Cross Currents." Then followed
"The Turn of the Tide" (1908), "The Story of Marco" (1911),
"Miss Billy" (1911), her first best-seller, and the sequel
"Miss Billy's Decision" (1912).
Porter is best remembered for her best-seller, "Pollyanna,"
1913) the story of a young girl whose "glad game" miraculously
warms the cold-hearted and makes the world right again.
"Pollyanna" was enormously popular, selling over a million copies,
and is still in print today in countless reprinted editions.
"Pollyanna"'s success was soon followed with the bestseller sequel,
"Pollyanna Grows Up," (1915) where Pollyanna and the "glad game"
move to Boston. Pollyanna had amazing popularity, leading to
"glad" clubs around the nation, motion pictures, plays and even
the acceptance to the word "pollyanna" into the English language.
Porter's other novels included "The Sunbridge Girls at
Six-Star Ranch" (1913), "Miss Billy Married" (1914), "Just David"
(a best-seller in 1916), "Six-Star Ranch" (1916), "The Road to
Understanding" (a best-seller in1917), "Oh, Money! Money" (a
best-seller in 1918), "Dawn" (a best-seller in 1919),
"Mary-Marie" (a best-seller in 1920), and "Sister Sue" (1921).
Many of Porter's over 200 short stories were collected in "The
Tie that Binds: Tales of Love and Marriage" (1919), "The Tangled
Thread: Just Tales" (1919), and posthumously "Money, Love and
Kate" (1923), "Across the Years: Tales of Age" (1924), "Hustler
Joe and other stories" (1924), "Little Pardner and other stories"
(1926), "Just Mother and other stories" (1927), and "The
Fortunate Mary" (1928). After her death, a series of Pollyanna
books was written by Harriet L. Smith and Elizabeth Borton.
In 1946, Porter appeared as #14 on Publisher's Weekly's list
of "The One Hundred Leading Authors of Bestsellers for the Period
from 1895 to 1944 Inclusive." Rankings were determined by the
number of books on the bestseller lists and the individual
success of each book.
Porter died in her Cambridge home on May 21, 1920 at the
age of 57.