Grace Livingston Hill

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Grace Livingston Hill, from a 1915 publication.

Grace Livingston Hill (April 16, 1865 – 1947) was an early 20th-century novelist and wrote both under her real name and the pseudonym Marcia Macdonald. She wrote over 100 novels and numerous short stories. Her characters were most often young female Christian women or those who become so within the confines of the story.

Family[edit]

Grace Livingston Hill was born in Wellsville, New York to Marcia Macdonald Livingston and her husband, Presbyterian minister, Rev. Charles Montgomery Livingston. Both were writers, as was her aunt, Isabella Macdonald Alden, who wrote under the pseudonym "Pansy."

Writing career[edit]

Hill's writing career began as a child in the 1870s, writing short stories for her aunt's weekly children's publication, "The Pansy." Her first story printed in book form was "The Esselstynes," which was published in 1877 as part of the "Mother's Boys and Girls Library" by D. Lothrop & Company.

"A Chautauqua Idyl," her first book as a young adult, was written in 1887 to earn enough money for a family trip from her Florida home to the summer Chautauqua gathering at Chautauqua, New York. This illustrated allegory of a Chautauqua gathering held by the flowers, tree, and animals was published in time to be offered for sale that summer and brought enough earnings to take the family there. Several books written in collaboration with her family followed in the early 1890s, as well as her only children's book, "A Little Servant."

Lack of funds was a frequent motivator, particularly after the death of her first husband left her with two small children and no income other than that from her writing. After the death of Hill's father less than a year later, her mother came to live with her. This prompted Hill to write more frequently. During and after her failed ten-year marriage to second husband Flavius Josephus Lutz, a church organist 15 years her junior, she continued to write to support her children and mother. She stopped using the Lutz surname after they parted ways in May 1914.

Although many of her earlier novels were specifically intended to proselytize, Hill's publishers frequently removed overt references to religious themes. After her publishers realized the popularity of her books, references to religious topics were allowed to remain, although she later modified her writing style to appeal to a more secular audience. The last Grace Livingston Hill book, Mary Arden, was finished by her daughter, Ruth Hill Munce, writing under the name of Ruth Livingston Hill, and published in 1948.

Themes[edit]

Good and Evil[edit]

Hill's messages are simple in nature: good versus evil. As Hill believed the Bible was very clear about what was good and evil in life, she reflected that design in her own works. She wrote about a variety of different subjects, almost always with a romance worked into the message and often essential to the return to grace on the part of one or several characters.

Redemption[edit]

If her clear-cut descriptions of evil in man and woman were Hill’s primary subjects in her novels, a secondary subject would always be God’s ability to restore. Hill aimed for a happy, or at least satisfactory, ending to any situation, often focusing on characters' new or renewed faith as impetus for resolution.

References[edit]

External links[edit]