It was the first day of December, 2019, and like Alice, I was down a rabbit hole.
I was working on a short-story follow-up to What Girls Are Good For, my 2018 novel following the early career of groundbreaking undercover reporter Nellie Bly. My new story took place immediately after the exposé that made Bly a household name, her ten days spent as an inmate in the insane asylum on Blackwell’s Island.
That experience had been turned into a book, Ten Days In A Mad-House, a terrific and horrifying read that remains hugely influential to this day (the nurses she…
Over the years, a fair number of people have approached my wife and me for relationship advice. I guess we look like we have our shit together.
When people ask us for the secret to our marriage, Jan often quotes an old NPR story about a couple that had been married for something like 70 years. “What’s our secret? Frequent separations and gradual loss of hearing.”
It gets a laugh, which is what we’re going for. But it’s not true. We live in each other’s pockets. For the first five years Jan and I were together, we didn’t spend a…
A MOTHER’S SECRET — AND A YOUNG GIRL’S GRIEF.
She was very young, exquisitely beautiful, and delicately refined — the last girl in the world one would expect to find starving in a little bare room on the top floor of a noisy tenement. Nevertheless, she had lived there for years, silent and unobtrusive, knowing nothing of her neighbors, and being regarded by them as “a poor, stuck-up thing, who thinks she’s better than other people, because she has a pretty face.”
When her mother moved there she was very young. They had been able to rent the first floor…
MARRIED FOR FUN.
“I dare you to marry me — now — to-night!”
Four young people were riding down a country lane — two girls, two young men — when this bold challenge was made.
Three of the merry riders greeted it with wild shouts of laughter. The happy sounds mingled with the jingle of the horses’ hoofs until the wooded hills, then touched by the magic brush of autumn, sent the echo ringing back like elfish spirits jeering at them.
“Take him up, Pet, and let me stand for witness,” the foremost girl rider cried jokingly, glancing over her…
When I found the treasure trove of novels by Nellie Bly hidden in the pages of the London Story Paper, I did not start transcribing them in their chronological order. Instead I farmed out the most legible ones to friends while reserving the hardest to discern to myself, postponing the transcribing of the middle-ground ones, neither illegible or perfectly clear.
This was fortunate, because it left her seventh novel, Dolly The Coquette, for the end of the queue. I had finished nine of her novels when I started transcribing and editing Dolly.
Instantly I knew I had a problem on…
Between 1889 and 1895, pioneering journalist Nellie Bly wrote twelve novels. For the past 125 years, all but one have been lost — until now! The Lost Novels Of Nellie Bly go on sale March 16, 2021!
NEW YORK BY NIGHT
A $500,000 Robbery.
On the Fifth of August, 1889, two men, members of the great jewelry firm which, for obvious reasons, we shall call Diamond & Co., presented themselves at police headquarters. …
From 1890 to 1895, pioneering journalist Nellie Bly wrote eleven serial novels for a weekly publication. From that time to this, they have all been thought lost forever — until the announcement of their discovery on January 25, 2021.
The first of these lost novels is Eva the Adventuress, a gripping “ripped-from-the-headlines” tale of a red-headed vixen wronged by everyone and eager for revenge. With her signature move of stabbing men in the chest but failing to kill them, Eva Scarlett is clearly based on the real-life Eva Hamilton, whose scandalous trial filled breathless headlines in the fall of 1889.
Bly’s First Story
The Pittsburg Dispatch — January 25, 1885
What shall we do with our girls?
Not our Madame Neilsons; nor our Mary Andersons; not our Bessie Brambles nor Maggie Mitchells; not our beauty or our heiress; not any of these, but those without talent, without beauty, without money.
What shall we do with them?
The anxious father still wants to know what to do with his five daughters. Well indeed may he inquire and wonder. Girls, since the existence of Eve, have been a source of worriment, to themselves as well as to their parents, as to what…
When I was a little kid, my family would make an annual pilgrimage from Ann Arbor to Chicago to visit my aunt Cheryl and her husband David (DB to us) to do some Christmas shopping. We’d stay at their house in Riverside, right next to a house Capone apparently had built for his sister. Then we’d go downtown and visit Marshall Fields’ main store in the Loop and have Christmas tea in the famous Walnut Room.
Tea by the big tree was fine, but as a child of the ‘80s I was a greedy little consumer. Early on I discovered…