Aunt Jane's Nieces (hardcover)

In 1906, L. Frank Baum’s publishers brought out a new book for girls by a new author, Edith van Dyne. Aunt Jane’s Nieces was so successful that it spawned an entire series that was almost as popular as the Oz books. In this first volume, cousins Beth DeGraff, Louise Merrick, and Patsy Doyle meet for the first time when their Aunt Jane summons them to her home. Jane is dying, and is looking for an heir. Beth and Louise do whatever they can to impress their aunt, but Patsy will have none of it, which just makes Jane even more determined. Jane’s brother, the nieces’ Uncle John, also arrives after having lived many years out West, and Jane is also caring for her late fiancé’s nephew, Kenneth, who shuns everyone’s attempts to befriend him. There are many twists and turns in this tale, with a surprising heir emerging in the end.

Lest anyone worry about Bum’s publishers finding a new star, rest assured that he had no cause to worry, because Edith van Dyne was him! Baum wrote under several pen names during his career, but Edith van Dyne proved to be the most successful, and the Aunt Jane’s Nieces series gets off to a rollicking start with this story about complicated family relations, wealth, and privilege.

Baum used the pseudonym “Edith van Dyne” on books aimed at teenaged girls. Besides the Aunt Janes Nieces books, he wrote two books about The Flying Girl. After he ended Aunt Jane’s Nieces, he started a new series about Mary Louise, a young woman growing up in upstate New York, and her friends, which was continued by another author after Baum’s death. The books by “Edith van Dyne” were so popular that another publisher tried to lure her away, and finally requested a meeting. A female employee of the publishers finally took that meeting (with Frank and Maud Baum also attending, under assumed names). She graciously but firmly turned the rival publisher down.

Hardcover, 2003. Illustrated frontispiece. 340 pages.

Aunt Jane's Nieces (hardcover)
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