Authors Who Inspire Me – Gene Stratton Porter



“To my way of thinking and working, the greatest service a piece of fiction can do any reader is to leave him with a higher ideal of life than he had when he began. If in one small degree it shows him where he can
be … gentler, saner, cleaner, kindlier … it is a wonder-working book. If it opens his eyes to one beauty in nature he never saw for himself … it is a beneficial book.”

– Gene Stratton Porter






Gene Stratton Porter was an author, a naturalist, a wildlife photographer, and one of the first women to create a movie studio. You might be familiar with some of her books, but not all of them. A Girl of the Limberlost and Freckles are probably the two most well-known, and, despite the fact that they were, for their time, passionate romances, they are now often classified as children’s books.





My favorites are The Keeper of the Bees and The Harvester – less well known, but absolute comfort reads for me. The Keeper of the Bees was made into a movie three times, including a silent version! And my Jamie Lynn Campbell is named after the main character of The Keeper of the Bees and modeled after the “little Scout”, the beekeeper’s stalwart assistant, Jean.






Gene is a fabulous teller of tales. Her settings are amazing. I can still smell the salt of the sea and hear the bees buzzing around the blue garden in The Keeper of the Bees. And her characters – well, I’m still and will always be in love with Jamie McFarlane (of The Keeper of the Bees) and David Langston (of The Harvester). And, like all romance authors, Gene is in love with love and her books are full of sweet, soaring and passionate romance. But her first love is the sweeping grandeur and fascinating intricacy of nature.


Three editors read one of her earliest books, Freckles, and offered to publish it, but all of them said that the book would never sell well and if she expected to make any money from her work she had to “cut out the nature stuff.” Gene’s response? “To put in the nature stuff was the express purpose for which the book had been written.” She was not interested in writing a pure romance, or, as she called it “a book based wholly upon human passion.” So, she wrote books that included both. Stories that extolled a lifestyle and culture that she could support wholeheartedly – wholesome, healthy, and based in nature – and stories that encouraged preservation of our wilderness spaces.


I love Gene’s books for the romance – sweet and clean, but passionate and intense; the history – a perspective on a totally different (and certainly imperfect) culture; the characters – memorable, three-dimensional, and admirable protagonists; and the settings – unbelievably beautiful and detailed descriptions of flora and fauna. I’ll close with this quote from “The Harvester” – David Langston himself. This could be Pops – Logan Woodruff – talking about Woodruff Mountain:

“The place is an experiment. When medicinal herbs, roots, and barks became so scarce that some of the most important were almost extinct, it occurred to me that it would be a good idea to stop travelling miles and poaching on the woods of other people, and turn our land into an herb garden….While I’ve been at it, of course, my neighbours had an inkling of what was going on, and I’ve been called a fool, lazy, and a fanatic, because I did not fell the trees and plow for corn….But somewhere on this land I’ve been able to find muck for mallows, water for flags and willows, shade for ferns, lilies, and ginseng, rocky, sunny spaces for mullein, and open, fertile beds for Bouncing Bet–just for examples. God never evolved a place better suited for an herb farm; from woods to water and all that goes between, it is perfect.”

– Gene Stratton Porter, The Harvester, 1911

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