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20th Century Children's Authors - Holling

     20th Century Children's Authors - Holling Clancy Holling - Paddle to
the Sea






     Holling Clancy Holling                           




     699 East Foothill Blvd.,
Altadena, California,
January 23, 1948

Elizabeth Rider Montgomery,
3209 Alki Avenue,
Seattle 6, Washington

Dear Miss Montgomery:
Your last letter of January 2 has just arrived via
Boston, and has jolted me into startled realization of my negligence
Upon receipt of your first letter the filing out of your questionnaire
was started (quite expansively as you will note - if you cannot decipher
cuneiform please write and we will send "Holling's Handy Helper in
Handling His Hen Scratches," complete with guide maps and instructions).
Then my publisher hinted that, if my new book hopes to be born in '48
its author ought to hump himself with the illustrations. Everything
else was dropped (it was already dropped before this, but the hint only
dropped everything deeper), including another questionnaire for an an-
thology to be published in England, business letters in stacks, and the
pleading missives of friends and relatives. Christmas and New Years
saw me nailed to the drawing board. People have sometimes expatiated
on the "effortless ease of creation" suggested by PADDLE-TO-THE-SEA and
TREE IN THE TRAIL. At the time of creation of the idea, yes. But from
then on - rolled sleeves, shovel and pick!

This new book, SEABIRD, has the same format as
PADDLE. But the story takes in much more  territory in space and time.
The story thread hangs on a seagull carved in walrus ivory which sails
with four seafaring generations, starting in an 1830 whaling ship off
Greenland and ending in a plane. My illustrative struggle was a struggle
only in the necessity for deletion. (I really love my work). For each
page of pictures, data and sketches had been amassed, enough for a book.
The finished material had to be axed unmercifully to emerge basic,
concise, yet comprehensive.

Thus your  questionnaire was laid aside for a day and
was literally buried under hundreds of sketches. The completed illus-
trations have now been mailed. And now, coming out of a daze, your
letter of January 2 is the first of many groups to be answered.

Your outline of the subjects to be included in your
book is appealing. It is flattering to find my simple PADDLE in such
good company. Please put me on your sales list for an autographed,
first edition copy!
Holling Clancy Holling                                                     




     699 East Foothill Blvd.,
Altadena, California,
March 24, 1948

Mrs. Elizabeth Rider Montgomery,
3209 Alki AVenue,
Seattle 6, Washington

Dear Mrs. Montgomery,
You've done a swell job with the PADDLE story. It
could  go as is. However, because it is so darn good, I've nudged it here
and there to sharpen facts in some places and broaden meanings in others;
so that from here on out i can refer questioners to your anthology for the
real dope on how PADDLE got under way.

Your title, I am afraid, may get me in wrong with some
of my Indian friends. I can hear them now - "Huh! So this guy knows more
about us than we do? Ho! Wait till we this him again! Boy, will we pour
it on!"... In other words, because I can change a car's tire doesn't
mean i know the secrets of its motor. And really knowing Indians is akin
to understanding atomic fission....

Perhaps you could snare a title which would,  instead
of being boastful, point a moral for the young reader. nothing so trite
as "helping others we help ourselves" but with that general idea. Lucille
and i helped the old woman with no thought of reward (our reward was in
proving to ourselves that we were smart enough to remember certain
yet she gave us an extension on our original ideas which formed the book's
character.... Or you might pick up a title from something like HOW BITS
OF BIRCHBARK HELPED TO BUILD A BOOK....(When I started on this title
thing I really meant to help. Hope I haven't driven you into a bog).

We may have met. My jabberings have been listened
to (and politely) at assorted gatherings all over this area. Though I am
not partial to wearing buttons, my clubs include California writers' Guild
(not a union), P.E.N. International, Southwest Museum etc. i helped
with training films at the Walt Disney Studios during the war, went with
Walt and party to Mexico getting data for a health film series for Latin
America, wrote and mouthed the narration for "Rite of Spring", taken from
its Fantasia context for a school documentary which we tried out at a
session of some three hundred audio-visual experts at  the studio. Any of
this in your territory? The Disney contact was not mentioned in data sent
you, because i am not a Disney man and do not want to be known as such - 
and purposely keep the film angle separate from my books.

if I can help further, please let me know. (Or are
you by this time saying "what does he mean further!. *%#$".
H.C. Holling                    




     699 E. Foothill Blvd.,
Altadena, Calf.,
July 25, 1948

Dear Mrs. Montgomery:
Just returned from
the east, hence the delay in answering
you last letter.

The story on "PADDLE"
reads very well, and your title

It has been fun
working with you. Be sure to have
your publishers ship me a copy
of the book when it comes out.

Good luck, and
happy sale-ing!

Yours sincerely,
P.S.Am enclosing a few shots on
signatures to used at will.
My preferences might be No. 1 or 4.                           




Published by: Houghton  Mifflin Co.  Year: 1941
Real Name:  Name:
Born Holling Alison Clancy. Father died in 1918. Because the Clancy line
extended by innumerable cousins, while the Holling line ended with my
mother, I added
another "Holling" to my name for books. To save confusion, the name was
and I am now known as Holling Clancy Holling, but old friends still
recognize me as
being the original Holling Clancy.
What do you family and friends call you?: Holling

Date of birth: Aug 2-1900  Place of birth: Grandfather Holling's Farm,
Henrietta Township, Jackson Co.
Father's occupation: School Supt. Number of Brothers: 1 and sisters: 1
Father's nationality: Canadian Irish-French in Canada for 2 centuries
Mother's nationality: American-- English stock, mother's grandfather direct
from England
Kind of home during childhood (farm, small town, city apt. etc):
Childhood, North Mich. S. Peninsula. Small towns with fairly large high
Adolescence on the Holling Farm
Where: Westbranch, and AuSable, Mich. 2 yrs. after leaving AuSable
it was destroyed by
forest fire.
Amount of schooling (high school, college, etc.): Graduate Leslie High Sch.
Leslie Mich.
Grad. Art Institute, Chicago. Special tutoring Anthropology
Economic status during childhood (poor, middle class, wealthy): Middle
Special interests as a child (sports, books, games, etc.): Father was good
Learned to ride young - I had a pony.
Father inducted me into mysteries of natural sciences - hence love of
woods, books.
Mother was pianist, wrote verse, plays etc. locally. Hence love of art,
music etc.
Childhood ambitions: To own and control a circus
To write and illustrate books
When did you begin to write?: First- drawing, pig with litter at 3
First verse (local paper) at 5 - ever anon!
Why?: Natural expression. Each new experience I documented in drawn
Who encouraged you?: Mother, Father, assorted relatives. Father's brothers
and sisters
were missionaries in India, Africa. Visits home gave me
much food for imagination.
What and when was your first success or recognition: Difficult to determine
I grew into it. Mother wrote and produced plays and musicals for Father's
schools and
I was in them. First actual publications were in boy's magazines as
youngster. Verse
in adult mag. etc. First books - See Oct. Supplement: Who's Who in Am.;
How did you happen to write  for children?:
Grew into this phase also. An intense interest in hows and whys of life
gave me
an interpreter complex: suppose you could say that I wanted to know how a
was done so that I could pass it on to others. Regard myself as an
Anything else about your background which has a bearing on your writing.:
From small-town-farm environment graduated to big city env. (Chicago) but I
was still the "Wilderness-lover." A year in the deserts of New Mexico
Also, working on scientific staff (Taxidermist Asst) of Field Museum of
Nat. Hist., Chicago
gave me great impetus. Field trips, Montana and British Columbia for
specimens. One real turning point was meeting of Dr. Ralph Linton, Head of
American Ethnology Dept. at the museum. We struck up a bargain and after a
day's work in Zoology, Dr. Linton (in his office) gave me from one to 3
lecture in Anthropology. He tried out his courses on me. (He was later
at Columbia Un,, now at Yale). A couple of years of this gave me a
foundation in the study of Man - past, present and possible future
Which acted  as a key or an entire filing system in my brain for the
correlation of scattered information. Hence, any information now gleaned
has its pigeon-hole in my mind and becomes part of a  subconscious fund
available for future books. (I plan to Produce Bushels!)                   




     P.S. Look at designs on title contents page, map etc. of "Paddle" and
you will
see patterns in birch bark as related below - (though of course  not in
old Chippewa design).


Where did you get the idea for the book?: Touring the Gulf States, Lowell
Thompson of
H.M.Co. wrote me about illustrating a
book for them. At Boston I gave Lowell various ideas for books. He liked
the idea of a
story about a river. So Mrs. Holling and I started west again in our
studio-trailer for the
headwaters of the Missouri. En route, Wisconsin and Minn., idea shifted to
a river in the
Great Lakes.
When (Season as well as year): Autumn 1938
On a fishing boat in Lake Superior I said "that's it - a chip floats along
the river in
the Lakes, clear to the sea." Later that month, Lucille (Mrs. H.) and I met
a Chippewa woman
selling birch bark baskets near Fort William Ont. She used hideous designs
from magazines-
flower pots, sunbonnet babies, roses etc. We said "why not use the original
Chippewa designs
but tho her mother  had remembered then, she
had forgotten. So Lucille and I at Fort William Camp, from memory, cut out
many birch
patterns of Chippewa and Cree designs. These I did on the orange-colored
of the bark, traced with a point and all inside the outline scraped neatly.
This gives a darker
silhouette on the dark bark. The woman was astonished at the authentic
designs and because
we even cut them in bark patterns, like the old-time Chippeway. To show her
and pleasure she gave us, among other things, a carving  made by a 12-year
old Chippewa
friend. We still have it - a kneeling Indian with drawn bow. If a 12 yr.
old could do this,
I reasoned, then an Indian in a canoe would be easy. So there was my `chip'
to float
thru the `river' in the Lakes' to the sea. My high school summer  vacations
been spent (2 years) working on Great Lakes freighters. Lucille and I had
camped all around
the Lakes on long canoe trips, including Nipiquo country. So the story
developed on its own, as naturally as a chip going downstream. The title
came while
we camped in Bryce Canyon, Utah. I thought of having the boy carve "I am
Paddle-to- the-Sea"
____ verbal thing - as an Indian would say "I am Paddling to the sea! But
the words
seemed simple and direct, and the title was born as is.
When did you begin to write the book?: 1939
Where?: Sequoia Park, Calf. extending to Olympic Pen. (Neah Bay region)
finished Altadena Calf.
My desert books are often written in canoes, canoeing books in deserts.
Perspective, you see.
How much had you had published when you began it? (Give names of books)
See "Who's Who, Oct sup., 1942" page 208 - also "Story and Verse for
Children" - page 813
by Miriam Blanton Huber
What was your purpose in writing this book?: To give youngsters a taste of
the North Country I knew -  to have fun making a book - and for cash!
How do you write? (typewriter, long-hand, dictate):
Where? (study, office, etc.):
Do you keep regular office hours?: Yes. If so, what are they?: No
Do you revise much?: Yes  Write easily or laboriously?: It all depends
Do you let your family or friends read your work, or try it out on
children?: Read it to my wife. Never to children.                          




     Who makes your final copies? (yourself, private secretary, public
typist, etc.): or sometimes to save time typist.
Did you make an outline before writing the book?: No
Did you decide on the title first or last?: First
How long did it take you to write the book?: Problematical. Some paragraphs
rewritten 60 times for simplicity and rythm.
Did you work on it steadily?: At times.
Did it go fairly smoothly or did you hit rough spots? (Details of any
particular difficulty and its solution would be appreciated.):
No rough spots in  story proper. Sometimes difficult to choose which
told story best. In PADDLE, TREE and new book SEABIRD, each page of
some 300 words is a complete chapter. This  necessitates work in
framing all ideas for that page simply and yet without losing the plot,
excitement, etc. (As against such writing, sonnets are a cinch!)
Was your book accepted immediately by a publisher?: Yes
Was it immediately popular on publication?: Thank Heaven!
Anything else about your writing that might be of interest, especially
anything that concerns this book.: The rests between spurts were swell!


How much did you have to do with the illustrations of your book?:
Practically everything except making the plates.
If you did them yourself, which came first, the pictures or the text?: Text
What medium did you work in?: Water-color, pencil, pen
How much experience had you had in illustrating?: years.            





What did you look like when you wrote this book? Dark or Fair?: Dark
Tall or short?: 5' 101/2"  Thin or plump?: Slender
Color of eyes?: Dark blue  Wore glasses?: No
Color of hair?: Dark Brown  Kind of hair--long or short?: Medium
Curly or straight?: Straight  How did you wear it?: See picture
Any special features of your appearance (square jaw, dimples, stoop,
etc.): Would dearly love a square jaw but haven't one. No dimples. No
Are you quiet or talkative?: It all depends.  Friendly or reserved?: Ditto
Do you laugh a great deal or are you usually grave?: Not manic- depressive
However, can howl with glee or be sober as hell.
Are you quick- tempered or calm and placid?: Every alternate leap-year.
What sort of clothes do you wear  most when writing? (sports, suits
slacks, etc.): Sometimes trunks only. Sometimes overcoats. Altitude
and weather dictate.
Favorite occupations and hobbies?: Too many
What is your normal speech like? (Meticulously correct, colloquial,
slangy, abrupt, rambling, etc.): Yes. And the shadings can be subtle.
What are some of your pet expressions and exclamations?: I blush.
Profanity not habitual.
If strongly religious, give denomination.: Brought up a Methodist - but am
very broad in view. Could still be called Christian.
Any other details about yourself, no matter how trivial, which  might
help me to picture you in my own mind. Latin Americans call me "simpatico."
I become with no effort the age to which I am talking. Even some dogs
seem to wonder why I have no tail. Cats regard me with favor. Also
old people. Also my wife (this statement - should be qualified at length.
Can you direct me to any articles or books which have been written
about you?: See Who's Who Supplement for  Oct. 1942. It contains most
complete list of my books.
if you have a photograph  or snapshot of yourself of about the vintage
of your book, I would appreciate it. Of course I would return it
promptly. Please keep the thing!