Nicholson, Meredith: The House of a Thousand Candles
(researched by Melissa Meeks)

Assignment 1: Bibliographical Description
1 First edition publication information (publisher, place, date, etc.)
Meredith Nicholson. The House of a Thousand Candles. Indianapolis: The Bobbs-Merrill Company, 1905. Copyright: The Bobbs-Merrill Company
2 First edition published in cloth, paper, or both? If both, simultaneous or staggered?
First American edition published in trade cloth binding.
3 JPEG image of cover art from first edition, if available
4 Pagination
215 leaves, [16]pp. 1-30[2]31-100[2]101-124[2]125-164[2]165-230[2]231-312[2]313-382[20]
5 Edited or Introduced? If so, by whom?
No editor or introduction. Book is dedicated to Margaret, Nicholsonís sister. Also includes publisher advertisements under the section heading ìA List of Important Fiction: The Bobbs-Merrill Companyî found at the end of the book. The following books are advertised in the following order: Zelda Dameron by Meredith Nicholson The Main Chance by Meredith Nicholson Hearts and Masks by Harold MacGrath The Social Secretary by David Graham Phillips The Man of the Hour by Octave Thanet The Deluge by David Graham Phillips The Best Policy by Elliott Flower The Plum Tree by David Graham Phillips Heartís Haven by Katherine Evans Blake The Man on the Box by Harld MacGrath Pipetown Sandy by John Philip Sousa The Millionaire Baby by Anna Katharine Green Hearts Courageous by Hallie Erminie Rives The Castaway by Hallie Erminie Rives The Yoke by Elizabeth Miller The Grafters by Francis Lynde
6 Illustrated? If so, by whom?
There are 7 sepia illustrations inserted in the book on glossy paper stock, which were all done by Howard Chandler Christy. These sepia plates face the title page and are found facing p. 30, 100, 124, 164, 230, and 312. All plates are complete with legends referring the reader to an exact line from the text and a page number of the scene that is being depicted in the illustrations. Besides the legends, on all of the 7 illustrations is the name Howard Chandler Christy 1905. Legend of Sepia illustration facing title page: There is something jaunty in a tam-oí-shanter, particularly a red one | Page 79 Legend of Sepia Illustration facing p.30: She turned carelessly toward me, and our eyes met for an instant. | Page 29 Legend of Sepia illustration facing p.100: Like a flash he swung the hammer, and at the same moment I fired. | Page 100 Legend of Sepia illustration facing p. 124: She marched before me, her hands in her pockets. Page 123 Legend of sepia illustration facing p. 164: ìI shall scorn to remember you!î---and she folded her arms under | the cloak tragically. Page 164 Legend of sepia illustration facing p. 230: At the top of the stair, her height accented by her gown of white, | stood Marian Devereux. Page 230 Legend of sepia illustration facing p. 312: ìI beg your pardon!î she said, and laughed. Page 311 Vignette illustrations in black ink are found on p.1 just above the title of the novel where chapter 1 begins and on p. 382 just below the last paragraph of the novel. The vignette found preceding chapter 1 is a picture of a closed gate connected to a stonewall in the foreground and in the background, there is a large house with trees surrounding it. Amidst the vignette, near the bottom right hand corner is a name deciphered to be Franklin Bouth. There is a possibility that this aforementioned person is a second illustrator. Although, he is not accredited on the title page nor is his name found on the second vignette at the end of the book. The second vignette is almost identical to the first vignette except that it is slightly smaller with the gate connected to the stonewall now drawn open with no house in the background.
7 JPEG image of sample illustration, if available
8 General physical appearance of book (Is the physical presentation of the text attractive? Is the typography readable? Is the book well printed?)
Extremely readable due to large margins, type easily decipherable, lines between text evenly spaced out to allow ease of reading. However, the lines do vary at some points in cases where the author wants to point out items of interest to the reader. Illustrations are centered on the plate with the legend located at the bottom of each illustration in a smaller type size than the actual text type size, but still in the same font. The size of the illustration on the page varies depending on the subject matter. For example, if only one person is depicted the margins are much larger than if two people are pictured. Overall, the margins are fairly large. No type description noted on verso of title page or colophon. Type was found to be serif. No differences in typographic presentation in chapter headings, title pages, and legends for plates except for varying sizes. Chapters are given in roman numerals with the title in smaller, capital letters underneath in serif font. There are instances in the book where different fonts are used besides serif. The dedication is printed in a gothic style font. When there is mention of a letter or some item of interest that involves text, then the size of the serif font will decrease or the font type will change to a gothic style font. Additional Comments: The overall appearance of the book is good. The binding is smooth and care-worn at the edges. The stamping on the spine and front cover are still vibrant in color with some degradation of color stamping in some areas. Pages are roughly cut on the edges and slightly dirtied with age, wear, and use. 98R. Book size: 194mm. by 127mm.; Size of text: 130mm. by 85mm.
9 JPEG image of sample chapter page, if available
10 Paper (Assess the original quality of the paper used for the book. Is the paper in the copy or copies you examined holding up physically over time?)
Wove paper with an even, granulated texture. The paper is rough cut on the edges and slightly yellowed due to its acidic content. The illustrations are made from glossy stock. In terms of the paper on which the text is placed, it is well-preserved with no foxing, no staining, nor tearing noted. However, it is slightly worn and more yellowed on the edges of the paper, which is probably indicative of much use. In terms of the glossy stock for the illustrations, there is staining noted that runs along the right hand edge of the paper on all the plates.
11 Description of binding(s)
Trade cloth binding in bluish color with dotted-line grain. No dust jacket. The cover is stamped in reddish orange for lettering, non-gilt yellowish brown for candelabra, and non-gilt white for candles. The endpapers are extended as a flyleaf in both the front and back of the book. They are the same color as the rest of the paper, but only heavier. Description of the front cover: The title is listed in a reddish orange color and below it is an illustration of an elaborate candelabra with 9 candles. The two end candles rise up to enclose the left and right sides of the title. Below the yellowish brown candelabra is the name of the author in the same reddish orange color, which is enclosed in a yellowish-brown box. The capital letter R is found on the inside of the left and right sides of the candelabra. Description of the spine: The title is listed with the authorís last name in a reddish orange color. Below this is a three-candle candelabra with a long stand. Underneath the candelabra is the publisher's name in the same reddish-orange color. Transcription of front cover: The HOUSE | of a | THOUSAND | CANDLES | [9 candle elaborate candelabra] | [By] MEREDITH NICHOLSON Transcription of the spine: The | HOUSE | of a | THOUSAND | CANDLES | [By] NICHOLSON | [3 candle candelabra with stand] | BOBBS | MERRILL
12 Transcription of title page
THE HOUSE OF A | THOUSAND CANDLES | By | MEREDITH NICHOLSON | Author of THE MAIN CHANCE | ZELDA DAMERON, ETC. | WITH ILLUSTRATIONS BY | HOWARD CHANDLER CHRISTY | ìSo on the morn there fell new tidings and other adventuresî | MALORY | INDIANAPOLIS | THE BOBBS-MERRILL COMPANY | PUBLISHERS Title page verso transcription: Copyright 1905 | THE BOBBS-MERRILL COMPANY | [rule 25 mm.] | NOVEMBER
13 JPEG image of title page, if available
14 Manuscript Holdings
Not known.
15 Other (typograpical information from title page, etc.)
There is a stamp on the verso of the title page reading: PRESS OF | BRAUNWORTH & CO. | BOOKBINDERS AND PRINTERS | BROOKLYN, N.Y. On the endpaper located at the end of the book in the bottom left hand corner of the paper, there is a sticker which reads in blue lettering the following: UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA | LIBRARY | RARE BOOK ROOM. Stenciled below that in pencil is the following *PS3527 | .I35H67 | 1905 | Mrs. J. Gordon Lindsay The book can be found in the Special Collections section of the Alderman Library at the University of Virginia. It can be accessed using the call number PS3527.I35H67 1905
Assignment 2: Publication and Performance History
1 Did the original publisher issue the book in more than one edition? If so, briefly describe distinguishing features of each (illustrations, cover art, typography, etc.); if not, enter N/A
N/A
2 JPEG image of cover art from one subsequent edition, if available
3 JPEG image of sample illustration from one subsequent edition, if available
4 How many printings or impressions of the first edition?
Not known.
5 Editions from other publishers? If so, list their dates and publishers; if not, enter N/A
A.Wessels Company: 1905 - New York, 382 p., illus. 1907 - New York, 5 p.l., 382 p., front. 19 cm. 1908 - New York, 382 p. Grosset & Dunlap: 1905 - New York, 3 p. l., v p., 2 l., 382 p. front., plates. 20 cm, illustrated with scenes from the photo-play produced and copyrighted by the Selig Polyscope company 1915 - New York, 3 p.l., v.p., 2 l., 382 p. front., 1 illus., plates, 19.5 cm, illustrated with scenes from photo-play produces and copyrighted by the Selig Polyscope company Readers League of America: 1905 - New York, 382 p., illus McLeod & Allen: 1907 - Toronto, 382 p. Amalgamated Press: 1908 - London, illustrated by H.M. Brock Thomas Nelson Publishers & Sons: 1911 - London, 283 p. Gay & Hancock: 1928 - London Buccaneer Books, Inc: 1975 Indiana University Press: 1986 - Bloomington, Library of Indiana Classics, 1st Midland book ed., 382 p., [6] leaves of plates : ill. ; 22 cm, Classic Books Publishing: 2001 - The Best Sellers of 1906 Series
6 Last date in print?
As of October 2002, The House of a Thousand Candles is still in print. The most recent publication is dated April 2001 when the book was published by Classic Books Publishing as part of the Best Sellers of 1906 Series.
7 Total copies sold? (source and date of information?)
According to the Indiana Historical Society's website on Meredith Nicholson copyrighted 2000, The House of a Thousand Candles was Nicholson's most popular book and sold more than 250,000 copies in the United States. [http://www.indianahistory.org/heritage/nichol.html]
8 Sales figures by year? (source and date of information?)
Not known.
9 Advertising copy (transcribe significant excerpts, briefly identify where ads were placed)
Several advertisements were found in Publisher's Weekly starting in November 1905, the date of publication, and continuing until the end of 1906. The advertisements range in size from small sections on a page reserved for The Bobbs-Merrill Company advertisements to full-page spreads with elaborate illustrations. One such advertisement appeared on the front cover of the January 20, 1906 issue of Publisher's Weekly on page 66. At the top of the page, it reads: The Best Novel Since Stevenson with the title of the book in large, bold lettering. Under the title, the following three quotes are listed: "For entertaining qualities no book of the season can compete with it." -Baltimore Sun "'The House of a Thousand Candles' is alluring and the story more than fulfils the promise of the title." - N.Y. Globe "A rushing tale of adventure in the woods of Indiana, with a most entrancing atmosphere of mystery." -Boston Transcript Below the quotes, the following bold words appear: NOTHING HOLDS A CANDLE TO IT. The rest of the page is taken up by an elaborate illustration of a nine-candle candelabrum. Beneath the picture, the author's name is listed, Meredith Nicholson. The bottom of the page reads: Bound in Cloth, 12mo, $1.50 | THE BOBBS-MERRILL COMPANY, Publishers, INDIANAPOLIS
10 JPEG image of sample advertisement, if available
11 Other promotion
The Bobbs-Merrill Company introduced three marketing tactics to the world of publishing, which allowed The House of a Thousand Candles to benefit greatly in terms of sales. According to Kurian's Directory of American Book Publishing, the Bobbs-Merrill Company was "one of the earliest publishers to take full page advertisements in newspapers to announce forthcoming books," which created phenomenal success for book sales. They did just this for The House of a Thousand Candles where a full-page ad appeared in the November 4, 1905 edition of Publisher's Weekly on page 1144 announcing its upcoming release on November 15 of that same year. The Bobbs-Merrill Company also revolutionized promotion by adding elaborate illustrations to their advertisements. According to Tebbel's History of Book Publishing in the United States, the addition of handsome candelabras and other ornate drawings to the advertisements for The House of a Thousand Candles made for "one of the most striking advertisements of the early century," which in turn caused a boom in sales. Lastly, the Bobbs-Merrill Company went one step further to ensure more sales for this book by explicitly declaring that The House of a Thousand Candles would sell largely in the upcoming fall and subsequently incited the public to buy the book. In an advertisement for The House of a Thousand Candles on page 308 in the August 11, 1906 edition of Publisher's Weekly, the publishers state, "We shall continue to advertise these titles extensively. So we trust that the trade will order liberally and keep a good stock on hand for the steady demand." These practices initiated by the publishing company themselves greatly promoted the book and led to its high sales.
12 Performances in other media? If so, list media, date, title, production information; if not, enter N/A
Theater: The play version of The House of a Thousand Candles was performed at Daly's Theatre in New York from January 6, 1908 to circa January 17, 1908 for a total of 14 performances. James K. Hackett produced the play. The opening night cast included Frank E. Aiken, Edna Conroy, Lewis Fielder, Mary Elizabeth Forbes, George M. Graham, Stephen Grattan, William Hazeltine, E. M. Holland, Mabel Roebuck, Fred A. Sullivan, and J. H. Todd. The performance was of George Middleton's The House of a Thousand Candles: A Play in Four Acts, which was published in New York in 1908 and founded on Meredith Nicholson's novel, The House of a Thousand Candles. Film: THE HOUSE OF A THOUSAND CANDLES (1915/Selig Polyscope Co.) 5reels. Black and white. Silent. US. Credits: Director: T.N. Heffron; Screenwriter: Gilson Willets. From a novel by Meredith Nicholson. Cast: Harry Mestayer, Grace Darmond, George Backus. THE HOUSE OF A THOUSAND CANDLES (1936/Republic) 54mins. Black and white. US. Credits: Producer: Nat Levine; Director: Arthur Lubin; Screenwriters: H.W. Hanemann & Endre Bohem; Adaptation: Ralph Bettinson and Charles Booth. From a novel by Meredith Nicholson. Cast: Phillips Holmes, Mae Clarke, Irving Pichel, Rosita Moreno. The 1936 version produced by Republic Productions, Inc. was based on a scenario written by Dorothy Reid, Ralph Bettinson and Charles Booth and adapted from Meredith Nicholson's The House of a Thousand Candles. This book was published in North Hollywood, California in 1935.
13 Translations? If translated, give standard bibliographic information for each translation. If none, enter N/A
N/A
14 Serialization? If serialized, give standard bibliographic information for serial publication. If none, enter N/A
N/A
15 Sequels/Prequels? Give standard bibliographic information for each. If none, enter N/A
N/A
Assignment 3: Biographical Sketch of the Author
1 Paste your biographical sketch here (maximum 500 words)
Meredith Nicholson was born on December 9, 1866, the first of four children in Crawfordsville, Indiana. His father, Edward Willis Nicholson, was a farmer and a Union officer in the Civil War. His mother, Emily Meredith Nicholson, was a Civil War nurse. When Meredith was six, the family moved to Indianapolis. At fifteen, his formal education ended with high school and he began a long journey in self-education. He worked various jobs in a printing establishment and in a court as a reporter. During the mid-1880s, when Nicholson was 18, he began to sell poems and short fiction stories to newspapers. Meredith also read extensively, taught himself foreign languages and studied admiralty law. It is said that he chose this type of law because it appeared to have possibilities of romance. He soon deserted law for journalism and became a writer for the Indianapolis Sentinel and then the Indianapolis News from 1885 to 1887, where he eventually became literary editor. His first book, a book of poetry entitled Short Flights, was published in 1891. With the publication of his second book of verse, Poems, in 1906, Nicholson realized that poetry was not his field and he stopped writing verse. On June 16, 1896, Nicholson married Eugenie Kountze, an educated, wealthy young woman from Nebraska. They went on to have four children, one of which died in infancy. The couple moved to Denver, Colorado for three years where Meredith worked as an auditor and treasurer for a coal mining company. While away from Indiana, he wrote a well-known study of Indiana's history, The Hoosiers. In 1901, he returned to Indianapolis with his family determined to forge a career as a writer under the guidance of the Bobbs-Merrill Publishing Company centered in Indianapolis. His first novel, The Main Chance, was published in 1903 and became a bestseller. The following year he published Zelda Dameron, another realistic novel. With these two novels, Nicholson began a trend where he published a novel almost every year until 1929 with the publication of his last book, Old Familiar Faces. Inspired by contemporary novelists like Graustark and a sprawling old house in the countryside situated near a lake in Indiana, Meredith decided to write a romantic adventure tale in an American locale. This tale developed into his third novel, The House of a Thousand Candles, which undoubtedly was his greatest success when it was published in 1905. The novel instantly became a best seller making not only Meredith Nicholson famous but also his fiction. The House of a Thousand Candles enjoyed much popularity in the form of a drama that played in three foreign countries and also in the form of two widely viewed motion pictures. After this great success, Nicholson continued to write romantic adventure fiction for fifteen more years with his last novel of this type entitled Blacksheep! Blacksheep!. Meredith Nicholson thoroughly enjoyed writing as well as reading this type of genre for he is quoted as saying, "While I have never reddened my hands in blood or sought buried treasure or indulged in kidnapping, I find the contemplation of such experiences highly edifying" (World Authors). Besides novels, Nicholson wrote a number of essays on a variety of topics from social and political topics to the literary and autobiographical. The same year his last book was published Meredith Nicholson was elected to the Indianapolis city council. His literary career officially ended when his first wife died in 1931. Nicholson later remarried in 1933 to Dorothy Wolfe Lannon, but they were divorced ten years later. For his many years of service to the Democratic party, Nicholson was rewarded with three diplomatic posts under President Franklin Roosevelt: as ambassador to Paraguay, Venezuela and Nicaragua, which spanned from 1933 to 1941. Over his lifetime, Meredith Nicholson received honorary degrees of master's and doctorate's from Wabash College, Butler University, and Indiana University. Meredith Nicholson later died from diabetes on December 21, 1947 at the age of 81 in Indianapolis. This author and former diplomat is buried in Crownhill Cemetery in Indianapolis. "The Indiana State Library in Indianapolis holds letters by Nicholson in its manuscript collection and many newspaper clippings about him in its Indiana Biography Series" (American National Biography) Fruitful Sources: *Dictionary of American Biography, Supplement 4 1946-1950, 629-630 *American National Biography, Volume 16, 407-409 *Biography Index, Volume 1: Jan 1946 to July 1949, 699 *Publisher's Weekly, Volume 153: Jan-Mar 1948, 170 [specifically Jan 10 1948 issue] *Time, Volume 50: Oct-Dec 1947, 61 [specifically Dec 29, 1947] *New York Times, Dec 22 1947, 21, *Newsweek, Jan 5-June 28 1948, v.31, specifically Jan 5, 1948 edition, 55 *Biography and Genealogy Master Index, via Virgo [search for Meredith Nicholson] *Dictionary of North American Authors Deceased Before 1950, 328 *The American Literary Yearbook, 160 *World Authors, 1919
Assignment 4: Reception History
1 Paste contemporary reception history in here (maximum 500 words)
Before its publication in mid-November 1905, the Bobbs-Merrill Publishing Company, in the November 4, 1905 edition of Publisher's Weekly, touted The House of a Thousand Candles as a "novel of romance and adventure, of love and valor, of mystery and hidden treasure" that will "set your pulse a-beating and hold you fast by its entrancing charm" (1144). With this resounding claim, The House of a Thousand Candles hit the market and soon became a bestseller complete with glowing reviews that not only echoed the aforementioned statement of the book's publishers, but also supported them as well. Reviews of the book utterly praised this imaginative story and ultimately contributed to Meredith Nicholson's rise to literary stardom for The House of a Thousand Candles was soon called his greatest success. In particular, its flattering reviews helped to make the book a bestseller. The review offered by the December 16, 1905 edition of The New York Times Book Review adamantly proclaimed with the first sentence that "here is a story bristling with adventure" (905). The Bobbs-Merrill Publishing Company even went so far to include excerpts from these outstanding reviews in their advertisements for the book itself. A primary example of this occurred in the June 30, 1906 edition of the Publisher's Weekly where the following quotes were mentioned: "More than fulfils the promise of its alluring title." ?New York Globe, "Should be rechristened ?The Book of a Thousand Delights'." -Philadelphia Item, "A most entrancing atmosphere from start to finish." ?Boston Transcript, "Piquant, original, charming." ?St. Louis Republic, "Dowered with the joy of life." ?Chicago Journal, and "The best romance since Stevenson." ?Omaha World-Herald (1742). With praises such as these, it is no wonder that The House of a Thousand Candles was not only widely read but also essentially became the most outstanding work of Meredith Nicholson's literary career. Fruitful Sources: *The New York Times Book Review 1905, 16 December, 905 *Book Review Digest 1905, 257 *Publisher's Weekly, July-Dec 1905, v.68, [specifically November 4, 1905 edition, p. 1144 and December 2, 1905 edition, p. 1619] *Publisher's Weekly, Jan-June 1906, v.69, [specifically January 6, 1906 edition, p. 34; March 17, 1906, p. 916-917; and June 30, 1906 edition, p. 1742]
2 Paste subsequent reception history in here (maximum 500 words)
Before its publication in mid-November 1905, the Bobbs-Merrill Publishing Company, in the November 4, 1905 edition of Publisher's Weekly, touted The House of a Thousand Candles as a "novel of romance and adventure, of love and valor, of mystery and hidden treasure" that will "set your pulse a-beating and hold you fast by its entrancing charm" (1144). With this resounding claim, The House of a Thousand Candles hit the market and soon became a bestseller complete with glowing reviews that not only echoed the aforementioned statement of the book's publishers, but also supported them as well. Reviews of the book utterly praised this imaginative story and ultimately contributed to Meredith Nicholson's rise to literary stardom for The House of a Thousand Candles was soon called his greatest success. In particular, its flattering reviews helped to make the book a bestseller. The review offered by the December 16, 1905 edition of The New York Times Book Review adamantly proclaimed with the first sentence that "here is a story bristling with adventure" (905). The Bobbs-Merrill Publishing Company even went so far to include excerpts from these outstanding reviews in their advertisements for the book itself. A primary example of this occurred in the June 30, 1906 edition of the Publisher's Weekly where the following quotes were mentioned: "More than fulfils the promise of its alluring title." ?New York Globe, "Should be rechristened ?The Book of a Thousand Delights'." -Philadelphia Item, "A most entrancing atmosphere from start to finish." ?Boston Transcript, "Piquant, original, charming." ?St. Louis Republic, "Dowered with the joy of life." ?Chicago Journal, and "The best romance since Stevenson." ?Omaha World-Herald (1742). With praises such as these, it is no wonder that The House of a Thousand Candles was not only widely read but also essentially became the most outstanding work of Meredith Nicholson's literary career. Fruitful Sources: *The New York Times Book Review 1905, 16 December, 905 *Book Review Digest 1905, 257 *Publisher's Weekly, July-Dec 1905, v.68, [specifically November 4, 1905 edition, p. 1144 and December 2, 1905 edition, p. 1619] *Publisher's Weekly, Jan-June 1906, v.69, [specifically January 6, 1906 edition, p. 34; March 17, 1906, p. 916-917; and June 30, 1906 edition, p. 1742]
Assignment 5: Critical Analysis
1 Paste your critical analysis in here (maximum 2500 words)
Critical Essay: The House of a Thousand Candles by Meredith Nicholson Introduction Meredith Nicholson's The House of a Thousand Candles was first published in November 1905 and soon skyrocketed onto the bestseller list. The book sold so well into the following year that it made the overall bestseller list for 1906 (Hackett, 70). Although Meredith Nicholson had had a previous novel on a bestseller list for a few months, this book was his first widely selling book. In fact, The House of a Thousand Candles turned out to be his greatest literary success and made Nicholson extremely famous (American National Biography, 408). The book was so famous in fact that a drama adapted from the novel played in three foreign countries and two motion pictures were made from it (American National Biography, 408). In order for the book of this relatively unknown author to enjoy such great success, a variety of factors were implemented that ultimately appealed to a large majority of readers and critics. The thrilling plot line riddled with witty humor combined with the innovative new genre of part adventure-mystery and part romance most assuredly contributed to the book's achievement at becoming a national bestseller. In addition, the intense advertising campaign carried out by the book's publisher, the Bobbs-Merrill Company, and the relative stability of the early 1900s attracted a large readership that was well in want of a story so charmingly intriguing as this bestseller. All in all, the sheer literary genius of Nicholson combined with his partnership with an aggressive publishing company ultimately made The House of a Thousand Candles into a highly acclaimed national bestseller. Summary In the December 2,1905 edition of the Publisher's Weekly, the Bobbs-Merrill Company advertised The House of a Thousand Candles as "a novel of romance and adventure, of love and valor, of mystery and hidden treasure." It also claimed that the book would "set your pulse a-beating and hold you fast by its entrancing charms." In short, the publishers claimed this book was "one of the strongest, cleanest, freshest novels in many a day." These claims presented by the publishers appear to hold true as evident in a simple summary of the novel itself. An old gentleman, reputed to be rather eccentric and extremely rich, dies in Vermont. All that remains besides a faithful servant is an unfinished Indiana estate with the nickname the House of a Thousand Candles because the deceased gentlemen preferred candles to electricity with which to light the immense house. His supposed fortune has mysteriously disappeared and is rumored to be hidden in the house somewhere amidst the various subterranean passages and strange crypts and tunnels. His grandson, John Glenarm, who rather prefers the life of adventure in foreign lands, does not share the gentlemen's obvious interest in architecture, much to his regret. Nonetheless, the grandfather words his will so that his grandson has to remain for a year in the House of a Thousand Candles essentially cut off from the outside world and in doing so hopefully turn the grandson's interests upon the house itself and its architecture. It is also stated in the will that if young John Glenarm should not follow along with the explicit wishes of the will then the property would be given to a Marian Devereaux, the niece of the nun that runs St. Agatha's School, a private girls school located right next to the famed estate. The will also forbids any marriage or promise of marriage between Miss Devereaux and John Glenarm or the property will be forfeited from both parties to land in the hands of St. Agatha's School. The executor of the estate, a lawyer named Pickering, proves to be the villain in the novel that tries to use a band of motley men to find the hidden treasure before young John Glenarm does. Pickering adds more complication to the life of this young man by falling in love with Marian who John inadvertently ends up falling in love with as well through interactions brought about by Marian's adventures on the Glenarm estate as a supposed schoolgirl named Olivia. Besides witty humor and some romance, the story is filled with brawls, shootings, and escapades into the secret tunnels with John's two friends. In the end, the grandfather comes back from the dead and appears at the climax of the attack on the Glenarm estate with the help of Marian. The villain is found out, the location of the fortune revealed, and the good guys triumph. John settles in the estate with his grandfather and the love story completes itself with the marriage of John to Marian. This story truly combines a large variety of elements that undoubtedly applied to an immense readership. Genre The House of a Thousand Candles was "one of the first hits in the mystery-adventure field which was not a costume romance" (Hackett, 70). Besides being a "story bristling with adventure," The House of a Thousand Candles was a tale inspired by the novels of Graustark and Hope around this time period in the 20th century (NY Times Book Review, 905). On this subject, Meredith Nicholson once wrote, "At this time there was a deluge of tales in imitation of Anthony Hope's ?Prisoner of Zenda.' It occurred to me to show if possible that a romantic tale could be written, without an ?imaginary kingdom,' with the scene in our own Indiana" (American National Biography, 408). In writing this bestseller, Nicholson said that these books "inspired him to see what could be done with a picaresque adventure tale in an American setting" (World Authors, 1919). This type of innovative book that united a multitude of genres not only resulted from the author's public persona but also from the ease and stability of the early 20th century. In terms of the author himself, Meredith Nicholson was described in quite a positive light, which undoubtedly had some affect on the type of novels he wrote and their subsequent success especially in terms of The House of a Thousand Candles. Nicholson was remarked as having a personal magnetism and charm that were very great. "With a humor and a light touch, he preached the healthy pursuit of happiness and a faith in the goodness of ?folks'" (Dictionary of American Biography, 630). It is clear from even the aforementioned summary of this bestseller that Nicholson's endearing character shines through not only the plot line but also through the novel's characters as well. His novels, on the whole, were noted as having stories where evil characters were disposed and happiness was showered on the deserving. Furthermore, Nicholson's usual novel was one that "allowed young love to triumph over difficulties and featured good living and the essential worth of people" (American National Biography, 408). The House of a Thousand Candles is undoubtedly a story where these elements conglomerate together and, as a result, become an extremely popular novel that appealed to a large readership through the early 20th century. Besides the influence of Meredith Nicholson's charming character and faith in the good of man, this bestseller was also a product of the time period in which it was written. The early 1900s was a time that valued such men as Nicholson and it is no wonder that he was driven to write a novel that enforced these ideals. The House of a Thousand Candles has been called "a classic of its kind: sheer unadulterated turn-of-the-century romanticism" (Sutherland, 134). In short, this novel was the "product of a relaxed era, expansive and assured, which found some measure of change from its tranquil pace in the orderly and controlled papers of literary romance" (Sutherland, 134). Ultimately, this national bestseller was facilitated by not only the values and stability indicative of the early 20th century but also the type of genre popular at that time. Popularity As mentioned in earlier assignments, the Bobbs-Merrill Publishing Company went to great lengths to advertise The House of a Thousand Candles well before the expected release date with enticing plot excerpts and praise. It can even be conjectured that the November release date of the novel was made in order to correspond to the large sales, which were indicative of the upcoming holiday season in December. With the proper advertising and the perfectly timed release during the holiday boom-time, the novel was sure to make it to the bestseller list and, in fact, it did. The novel's popularity especially during this time was no big surprise for it was "a carefully told tale, easy to read, charming an evening before the fire" (Gordon, 67). Through the rapid success of this bestseller, Nicholson was commended for having so "aptly touched the public taste is no mean accomplishment" (Gordon, 67). As mentioned earlier in this essay, the public taste during the early 20th century was well suited for the sound ideals evident in not only Nicholson's public persona but also in The House of a Thousand Candles itself. To ensure the novel's popularity, the Bobbs-Merrill Company drove an aggressive ad campaign where most, if not all, advertisements contained glowing praise by a myriad of newspapers and reviewers, which is clearly obvious in the editions of Publisher's Weekly for late 1905 through 1906. It is interesting to note, however, that this aggressive advertising campaign strategy did not last. Editions of Publisher's Weekly for the years following 1906 show no mention of The House of a Thousand Candles. It appears that this novel's popularity dramatically waned after 1906. But in the December 22, 1947 New York Times obituary for Meredith Nicholson, it stated that 'The House of a Thousand Candles' was for more than thirty years one of his [Nicholson's] outstanding works" (21). Evidently, although this novel was not assertively advertised, it did enjoy long lasting popularity in terms of readership for the obituary also mentioned that the book was still popular in libraries. The multi-faceted genre of this bestseller as well as the performances in other media especially the 1936 version of the movie ensured its popularity through the early 1900s to the middle of the 20th century. It is interesting to note that the story line of the 1936 motion picture does not resemble Nicholson's original plot at all. One can only conjecture that the book was simply made popular by the movie purely on the basis of a shared name. Even though, The House of a Thousand Candles is not as widely read as it was in the earlier part of the 20th century, praises for this book are still noted in the biographies that exist on the author, Meredith Nicholson. This fresh and exciting story is still considered the work that truly made Nicholson's career. Conclusion Meredith Nicholson's The House of a Thousand Candles novel enjoyed immense success during the early part of the 20th century. The innovative multi-faceted genre and the sound ideals enforced in the novel as seen in the public persona of Nicholson himself helped to ensure the novel's popularity. With the help of an aggressive advertising campaign by the Bobbs-Merrill Company and the thrilling plot line within the novel itself, it is no wonder that The House of a Thousand Candles became a national bestseller in such a tremendously short period of time. Fruitful Sources: *House of a Thousand Candles by Meredith Nicholson *Facts on File Bibliography of American Fiction: 1866-1918, 293-294 Indiana Authors and their Books by Banta *The Men Who Make Our Novels by George Gordon, 64-68 Indiana and Indianans Vol. III by Jacob Piatt Dunn, 1526-1528 *The Kentucky Historical Society Register, April 1967, "The Kentucky Girl in Two Literary Classics" by Raymond Carter Sutherland, 134-143 *American History and Life, via Virgo [search for House of a Thousand Candles] *The New York Times Book Review 1905, 16 December, 905 *World Authors 1900-1950, 1919 *New York Times, Dec 22 1947, 21, (Microfilm 1947 Dec 21-30) *Dictionary of American Biography, Supplement 4 1946-1950, 629-630 *American National Biography, Volume 16, 407-409 *Publisher's Weekly, July-Dec 1905, v.68, (Microfilm S-13, reel 28) [specifically December 2, 1905 edition, p.1619] *Publisher's Weekly, Jan-June 1906, v.69, (Microfilm S-13, reel 29) [specifically January 20, 1906 edition, p.66 and March 17, 1906, p.917] *Hackett, 80 Years of Best Sellers, 1895-1975
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