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Lida Larrimore (June 27, 1896 - July 2, 1960)

Lida Larrimore wrote novels of a type popular with American women in the early and middle years of the twentieth century. She published seventeen such novels between 1928 and the early 1950s, all of which provide clues to her success. They show her skill in creating characters and plots depicting fine young persons reaching for a quality of life so valued by the earlier inhabitants of this century.

The author was born Lida Larrimore Turner on June 27, 1896 in Girdletree, on the eastern shore of Maryland, where her father Henry Clay Turner was a minister of the Methodist Episcopal Church. She was named for her mother. When her father was transferred to a new pastorate in 1912, the family moved to Waterville, Maine where a good classical education was available for Lida. Her high school was Coburn Classical Institute. Her first two years of college were taken at Colby College in Maine, and after another family transfer, she completed her undergraduate work at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.

Miss Larrimore's writing career began with a play she created out of necessity. While teaching English at Chester High School in the early 1920s, she could not find a play suitable for her young people so she wrote "Cousin Julia's Jade Earring," a one-act comedy which was published by Penn Publishing Co. It was popular among high school drama groups for many years.

Her only juvenile novel, "The Blossoming of Patricia-the-Less," came in 1924, and she soon returned to writing plays. In 1927 Penn Publishing Co. offered a $1000 prize for the best play submitted. She won the competion with a three-act comedy, "Yesterday's Roses." In 1928 the publisher raised the prize to $1500. Miss Larrimore won that too with "The Third Floor Front." Her last play, "Enchanted Summer", was published by Hurst & Blackett, Ltd. in 1929.

"Tarpaper Palace," her first novel, was brought out a year earlier in 1928 by Macrae-Smith-Company, a practically new publishing firm in Philadelphia. On its twenty-fifth anniversary in 1950, Macrae-Smith-Company was still publishing Lida Larrimore. Many of her works later appeared in a less expensive edition by Grosset & Dunlap, New York.

On February 27, 1931, Lida Larrimore "Larry" Turner married a widower, Charles Thomas of Tredyffrin Township, whose wife had died four years earlier. He was co-owner of a landscape nursery business operated on the Thomas farm in the Great Valley at County Line Road. Her husband's brother and partner, Raymond Thomas, a landscape architect, designed and built a stone house on Pugh Road, across from the farm, for Charles and Larry. They called it Robin Hill. A studio for Larry to use when writing was included over the garage. She titled her fifth novel, published the next year, "Robin Hill". The Thomases had two daughters, Lida Larrimore, born 1932, whom they called Larry; and Nancy Lee, born 1938, called Lee.

Lida's father retired from the ministry in 1937. He had begun his last pastorate at Paoli Methodist Church in 1932, and was widowed the next year. Reverend Turner spent the early years of his retirement living with Lida and Charles Thomas. Later, in ill health, he moved to the Dowden Home in Newtown Square where he died in 1955.

Lida wrote seventeen novels in a span of less than twenty-five years. She was a disciplined writer. Her education had not included courses in writing, journalism or short story construction. She felt rather that such a career could be accomplished by going right to the job of writing and doing it with dedicated effort.

As her career matured, she developed a solid daily writing schedule. She regularly worked four hours every day. After four hours she felt "mistakes crept into her copy." When nearing the end of a book, however, she would find herself going "full speed ahead" to complete the task.

Lida Larrimore's books are difficult to find today, and that is unfortunate for they present a well balanced view of how people of the time lived; be they advantaged, average or disadvantaged. The books also encompass what these people thought about, how their moral choices were made, and what dreams and desires motivated them. Her work also received professional recognition and acclaim. In her mature years she was honored by Dickinson College on the occasion of its 175th anniversary for her contributions to the literary field.

Lida Larrimore Turner Thomas, Tredyffrin's novelist, died on July 2, 1960, just five days past her 64th birthday. She was buried in the cemetery at Valley Friends Meeting, where her marker stone displays her artistic temperment. Instead of a squarely chiseled inscription on gray granite similar to others, her name is displayed on a pink marble stone upon a bronze marker, inscribed with her flowing cursive signature.

Source:Tredyffrin Easttown Historical Society, History Quarterly Digital Archives, October 1998 Volume 36 Number 4, Pages 113–118, Lida Larrmore: Tredyffrin Novelist (Lida Larrimore Turner Thomas 1896-1960) by Barbara Fry (http://www.tehistory.org/hqda/html/v36/v36n4p113.html)

Lida Larrimore's Books on Amazon: Lida Larrimore

 

 
Tags: romance history
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