Elinor Macartney Lane

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Elinor Macartney Lane
Picture of Elinor Macartney Lane.jpg
Born 1864
Died March 15, 1909
Lynchburg, Virginia
Occupation Writer
Spouse(s) Francis Ransom Lane (d. 1937)[1]

Elinor Macartney Lane (1864 – March 15, 1909) was an American novelist who was popular in the first decade of the 1900s. After publishing a number of short stories, she wrote three novels: Mills of God (1901),[2] Nancy Stair (1904),[3] and Katrine (1909).[4][5]


Born in Maryland, she later moved to Washington, where she attended high school and normal school, from which she graduated in 1882. She then taught in the public schools, specializing in mathematics. She married educator Francis Ransom Lane in 1891. She started writing at age 16, when she also started an occasionally published magazine called The Trifler. Her first novel Mills of God was published in 1901.[6]

Although it did not reach The Bookman 's Top 10 bestselling books list for the whole year of 1904, Nancy Stair was a best-selling book and received well by critics.[7][8] It was adapted for the stage in 1905 by Paul M. Potter, who was best known for his hit play Trilby, an adaptation of the very popular 1894 novel. It played on Broadway at the Criterion Theatre for a month in 1905, though it was not a success.[9]

Lane's last novel, Katrine, was released almost coincident with her death in March 1909. It was the second-best selling novel in the United States for 1909.

Illness and death[edit]

After returning home from a trip to Europe, Lane died in Lynchburg, Virginia on March 15, 1909, while travelling to Asheville, North Carolina to recuperate from illness. Her home was at that time in Port Deposit, Maryland, where her husband was director of the Tome School.[10][11] According to a report in the Book News Monthly after her death, she had been ill for some years and her death was not wholly unexpected. She reportedly had to write in an "absolutely dark room, with her head tightly bandaged, her writing managed only by a careful guiding of her pencil over the paper."[12][13][14]


  • Mills of God (1901)
  • Nancy Stair (1904)
  • All for the Love of a Lady (novelette) (1906) (87 pgs.) (first published in Appleton's Magazine)[15]
  • Katrine (1909)
  • The Apple-Tree Cottage (novelette) (1910) (52 pgs.)


  1. ^ (29 March 1937). Dr. Francis R. Lane; Former Principal of Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute, The New York Times (Associated Press story)
  2. ^ (17 August 1901). A Woman's First Novel, The New York Times
  3. ^ (4 June 1904). The Romance of a Scotch Lassie (book review), The New York Times
  4. ^ (17 March 1909). Mrs. Elinor Lane Dead; Well-Known Novelist Stricken at Lynchburg, Va., The New York Times
  5. ^ Tracy, Marguerite (15 May 1909). The Art of Mrs. Elinor Lane, The New York Times
  6. ^ Alderman, Edwin Anderson et al. (eds.) Library of Southern Literature: Vol. VII, Johnston-Lucas, pp. 3003-20 (1909) (biography and exemplars of her writings)
  7. ^ Best Selling Books, The Bookman (January 1905) (Listing Nancy Stair as the ninth-best selling book for sales in November 1904)
  8. ^ (16 July 1905). In Workshop and Study, The Sunday Oregonian
  9. ^ Criterion Theatre, The Theatre, pp. 82-84 (Vol. V, No. 50, April 1905)
  10. ^ Advertisement Jacob Tome Boarding School for Boys, New Outlook (September 1906) (other references also confirm that Francis Lane was director of the school; this is an advertisement listing him as director)
  11. ^ (26 January 1908). Washington People Who Are Leading Characters of Well-Known Book, The Washington Post (half page article about Lane, her home in Port Deposit, and characters in Nancy Stair)
  12. ^ (15 May 1909). Literary Chat and Comment, Lewiston Journal
  13. ^ (17 March 1909). Elinor Macartney Lane, Prominent Novelist, Dies, New York Herald
  14. ^ (1 April 1909). Obituary, Bookseller, Newsdealer, and Stationer
  15. ^ Appleton's Book Gossip, Appleton's Magazine, pp. 705-06 (May 1906)

External links[edit]