Our Land, Our Literature
Our Land, Our Literature Home
Search our Site
Environment Regions Contacts and Links About Us  

Grace Caroline Alexander
1872 - 1951

Hoosier Connection: She was born in Indianapolis, where she taught school. Alexander also wrote editorials for the Indianapolis News and worked for the Bobbs-Merrill Company.

Works Discussed: Judith: A Story of the Candle-Lit Fifties, Prince Cinderella

Grace Alexander was born in Indianapolis, where she attended, and later taught, school for a number of years. From 1891-1903 she was a music critic and editorial writer for the Indianapolis News. In 1904 she became a reader for the Bobbs-Merrill Company. She wrote two romantic novels during her lifetime: Prince Cinderella, set in New England, and Judith: A Story of the Candle-Lit Fifties.

Judith is set in the fictitious Indiana village of Camden, located on the Ohio River. Corydon, located in southern Indiana, is the town Alexander based her book off of, a town she had visited several times.

In the novel set in the 1850s, Alexander sets up a love triangle. A young woman comes back from traveling to find the man she is to wed very ill. The fact that he is sick is bittersweet as she does not want to marry him, yet does not want him to die. To complicate matters, a new preacher from New England comes to town, and the young woman falls in love with him. The complexities of love are intertwined with descriptions of Indiana.

Alexander writes with an admiration for the countryside. In the beginning of Judith, one of the main characters steps off the train that brings him from his hometown in New England. Alexander chose to use this opportunity to describe the Indiana landscape from the newcomer’s perspective:

Fresh from the bleak landscapes of New England, he thought that he had never seen anything so beautiful. In the whole picture was wealth and vividness of color…. Clambering up the riverbank on the right were the wide, slow streets of a little old half-southern town, peaceful, bowery. East, west, and north of the town purple hills, gently rising from yellow, kingly cornfields, from swelling upland pastures and from thick orchards, shut out the world and its confusion (2).

The differences between the New England landscape and Indiana are rooted in society. New England was well established from years of humankind molding the land. The early settlers of America resided in New England, tearing out the trees and setting up villages, towns, and later, cities. Indiana was going through those stages in the 1850s. The environment of Indiana was going through changes due to the increasing amount of people calling it home. At this time in history, however, Indiana still kept some of its original natural beauty.

Later in the novel, Alexander gives a detailed description of what people planted in their gardens in the 1850s:

… tall, tangled flower-gardens, with their vivid masses of bloom, their stately procession through the seasons of fragrant eglantine, blushing peonies, tawny lilies, spotted flags and flaunting hollyhocks, and their humble neighbors: clove pinks, marigolds and love-in-the-mist. From these gardens the girl had once plucked many a nosegay… (13).

Eglantines (Rosa eglanteria) are small bushy roses. Today, they are rare, and hard to find in gardens or flower shops. Love-in-the-mist (Nigella damascena) is no longer found in Indiana. Even plants cannot escape the clutches of society.

Many ships could be seen cruising up and down the Ohio River, where the farming community of Camden was situated:

… he saw a cow chewing her cud and swishing her tail in a serene saunter: a high billowy load of hay grudging the driver his seat and drawn at a snail’s pace by stout mules; an ancient carryall; and beyond, on the river, steamboats and packets on their way to and form the larger ports of Cincinnati and Louisville (38).

In the 1850s, and today, Indiana is mainly an agricultural state, and to see cows chewing cud and hay transported is no rare site. Other things that were not out of the ordinary to see in Indiana are included in the next passage:

Winding past low, white farm-houses quite overshadowed by great red barns and past sentineled corn-fields strewn with golden pumpkins, [the wagon] climbed long, gradual, beech-brown slopes to upland meadows, across which flocks of sheep, like gray, drifting clouds, grazed on succulent herbs spared by the frost; steadily on and up it led into a remote, hill bound solitude (40).

Although scenes like this are common in the 1850s and today, some differences exist. In the 1850s, Indiana still was spread out, as far as humanity was concerned. Miles and miles separated villages, and even farmhouses, while in today’s society farms and cities are butting heads more and more. Farmland is being sold off to make way for shopping complexes, churches, and housing complexes. In the present day, the big red barn is elusive, and the conventional white farmhouse is replaced by modern accommodations.

Throughout the novel Alexander sprinkles in tidbits about the landscape of Indiana. Each time she describes the beauty she has witnessed first hand, the reader can tell that she has an admiration for what surrounds her.



Alexander, Grace. Judith: a Story of the Candle-lit Fifties. Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill Co., 1906.

---. Prince Cinderella. Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill Co., 1921.

Banta, RE. Indiana Authors and Their Books. Crawfordsville, IN: Wabash College UP, 1949.

Vanausdall, Jeanette. Pride and Protest: The Novel in Indiana. Indianapolis: Indiana Historical Society, 1999.