James Lane Allen

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James Lane Allen.

James Lane Allen (December 21, 1849 – February 18, 1925) was an American novelist and short story writer whose work, including the novel A Kentucky Cardinal, often depicted the culture and dialects of his native Kentucky. His work is characteristic of the late-19th century local color era, when writers sought to capture the vernacular in their fiction. Allen has been described as "Kentucky's first important novelist."


Allen was born near Lexington, Kentucky, and his youth there during the Ante-bellum, Civil War, and Reconstruction periods heavily influenced his writing. He graduated from Transylvania University in 1872, delivering the Salutatorian address in Latin. In 1893 Allen moved to New York City, where he lived until his death. He was a contributor to Harper's Magazine, The Atlantic Monthly, and other popular magazines of the time. His novels include The Choir Invisible, which was a very popular best seller in 1897.[1][2]

Allen is buried in Lexington Cemetery. At the northern edge of Gratz Park in Lexington is the "Fountain of Youth", built in memory of Allen using proceeds willed to the city by him.[3]

James Lane Allen School, an elementary school off Alexandria Drive in Lexington, Kentucky is named in his honor.


Works published by Allen include:

  • Flute and Violin (1891) (compilation of previously published stories)
  • The Blue-Grass Region of Kentucky (1892) (second compilation)
  • John Gray (1893)
  • A Kentucky Cardinal (1894)
  • Aftermath (1895) (sequel to A Kentucky Cardinal)
  • Summer in Arcady (1896)
  • The Choir Invisible (1897)
  • Two Gentlemen of Kentucky (1899)
  • The Increasing Purpose (1900)
  • The Reign of Law (1900)
  • The Mettle of the Pasture (1903)
  • The Bride of the Mistletoe (1909)
  • The Doctor's Christmas Eve (1910)
  • The Heroine in Bronze (1912)
  • The Last Christmas Tree (1914)
  • The Sword of Youth (1915)
  • A Cathedral Singer (1916)
  • The Kentucky Warbler (1918)
  • The Emblems of Fidelity (1919)
  • The Alabaster Box (1923)
  • The Landmark (1925)


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