Alice French

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Alice French
Born (1850-03-19)March 19, 1850
Andover, Massachusetts
Died January 9, 1934(1934-01-09)
Pen name Octave Thanet
Occupation Writer
Nationality US
Notable works Expiation
Relatives Marcus Morton (grandfather)


Alice French (March 19, 1850 – January 9, 1934), better known as Octave Thanet, was an American novelist and short fiction writer.


She was born at Andover, Massachusetts, a daughter of George Henry and Frances Wood French. Her mother was the daughter of Massachusetts Governor Marcus Morton.[1] Alice graduated from Abbot Academy in Andover in 1868.[2]

Later Life[edit]

By 1890, she had been settled in her comfortable life-long lesbian partnership with Jane Allen Crawford for close to a decade, dividing their year between their home in Davenport, Iowa, and their plantation in Arkansas. The two women shared their lives, except for Jane's four-year marriage (the ending of which is mysterious) and Jane's European tour. Their home in Iowa (Alice French House (Davenport, Iowa) has been on the National Register of Historic Places, since 1983. For fifteen years, the home they shared in Arkansas known as Thanford, was also on the National Register of Historic Places.


She began her literary career about 1878 with studies of a social and economic bent, but soon turned to short stories, especially after her move to Davenport, Iowa. Iowa and Arkansas gave her opportunities for exploiting regions hitherto little attempted in fiction. Her stories “The Bishop's Vagabond,” “The Hay of the Cyclone,” and “Whitsun Harp, Regulator” were popular. These, with other articles, initially appeared in the Atlantic Monthly and Scribner's Magazine. Later they appeared in her books.[2] Her novel Expiation (1890), won high praise.

Partial bibliography[edit]

  • The Bishop's Vagabond (1884)
  • Knitters in the Sun (1887)
  • We All (1889)
  • Stories of a Western Town (1892)
  • Otto the Knight (1893)
  • A Book of True Lovers (1897)
  • Missionary Sheriff (1897)
  • The Heart of Toil (1898)
  • An Adventure in Photography (1899)
  • The Best Letters of Mary Wortley Montagu (1901) (editor)
  • The Man of the Hour (1905)
  • Stories That End Well (1911)
  • A Step on the Stair (1913)

See also[edit]

Two of Alice French's houses have been listed on the National Register of Historic Places:


  1. ^ A History of the Town of Freetown, Massachusetts with an Account of the Old Home Festival, July 30th, 1902. Assonet Village Improvement Society (1902).
  2. ^ a b Wikisource-logo.svg Wilson, James Grant; Fiske, John, eds. (1900). "French, Alice". Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography. New York: D. Appleton. 

Further reading[edit]


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