Saturday, February 9, 2008

Phyllis Witney 1903-2008


Acclaimed novelist Phyllis Whitney died yesterday at age 104. The author of more than 75 books, she'd been writing professionally since the 1940s and was working on her autobiography at the time of her death.

Note: to give you an idea of how "old" 104 is, Miss Whitney divorced her first husband back, um, around World War II!

Whitney, once dubbed the Queen of American Gothics, holds a special place in my heart. I became addicted to her romantic suspense novels shortly after high school, and sucked them up one after the other. One in particular, The Winter People was my favorite--Beth surprised me a copy of it (copyright 1969) several Christmases ago. Rereading it, I found it tame by today's standards (where little is left to the imagination, especially when it comes to s-e-x) and the heroine not, shall we say strong? as those in more contemporary fiction. But still a very suspenseful story with a disturbing climax.

I loved this quote in the NY Times article (link posted above): "Ms. Whitney ascribed her success as a writer to persistence and an abiding faith in her abilities. 'Never mind the rejections, the discouragement, the voices of ridicule (there can be those too),' she wrote in Guide to Fiction Writing. 'Work and wait and learn, and that train will come by. If you give up, you’ll never have a chance to climb aboard.'"

Goodbye, Phyllis.

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