The Keeper of the Bees


I bought this book a while back for my mother in laws birthday, and have been jealously guarding it ever since. I’m actually very surprised I even found this book at all, especially since the books that surrounded it were old electrician books. It took several passes through the shelves to actually see it. The spine is dirty and faded, making it a little less noticeable than some of the other novels for sale.


I did actually see another one of Anna Katharine Green’s books, but it wasn’t as fancy as the one I currently have. I knew I had to get this one over any others, especially since my mother-in-law and father-in-law are bee keepers!



I originally thought this book was an old instruction manual about bee keeping, based solely on the cover, bu it turns out it’s actually a novel. A first edition, too.

title page

The illustrations on the inside of the end papers are probably my favorite things about the book, and one of its best features. I’ve never seen any other book quite like this one.



It’s kind of funny-after I gave this book to my mother-in-law, which she was completely enamored with, by the way, she immediately started naming all the flowers from the illustrations! Great job to the illustrator for actually knowing what plants to draw!


I absolutely love how they take over almost the entire page.



Gene Stratton-Porter is Indiana’s most famous female author. She novels were best-sellers, even though she never completed high school. She published 12 novels and 7 nature books, and several of her books have been made into movies.


Born in 1863 in Wabash County, Indiana, Geneva Stratton was the youngest child of 12. She grew to love the outdoors, especially after her mother died in 1875. She followed her brothers throughout the woods, making friends of the birds, squirrels, rabbits, and butterflies. She made her own garden, planting both vegetables and flowers, taking after her mothers love of plants.


In 1889 Gene married Charles Porter, already a successful pharmacist in with shops in Geneva and Ft. Wayne, Indiana. They designed and built their own homes, and had a daughter-their only child. Gene wrote, spent time in nature, and experimented with photography-a relatively new invention for the everyday individual. In her biography, Gene wrote about how she filled her days:

I could not afford a maid, but I was very strong, vital to the marrow, and I knew how to manage life to make it meet my needs, thanks to even the small amount I had seen of my mother. I kept a cabin of fourteen rooms, and kept it immaculate. I made most of my daughter’s clothes, I kept a conservatory which there bloomed from three to six hundred bulbs every winter, tended a house of canaries and linnets, and cooked and washed dishes besides three times a day. In my spare time (mark the word, there was time to spare else the books never would have been written and the pictures made) I mastered photography to such a degree that the manufacturers of one of our finest brands of print paper once sent the manager of their factory to me to learn how I handled it. He frankly said that they could obtain no such results with it as I did. He wanted to see my darkroom, examine my paraphernalia, and have me tell him exactly how I worked. As I was using the family bathroom for a darkroom and washing negatives and prints on turkey platters in the kitchen, I was rather put to it when it came to giving an exhibition. It was scarcely my fault if men could not handle the paper they manufactured so that it produced the results that I obtained, so I said I thought the difference might lie in the chemical properties of the water, and sent this man on his way satisfied.

In 1913, Gene and her little family relocated to California, where The Keeper of the Bees story takes place. She continued writing, and eventually started her own movie production company to convert her novels to movies.

Unfortunately, Gene never saw how successful her novels, movies, or nature books actually were, since she was killed in a car crash in December 1924, just before the publication of The Keeper of the Bees.

Her works are still widely read, her novels have been made into over 25 movies, and her two homes are now part of Historic State Parks.


1 Comment

Filed under 1920s, Books

One response to “The Keeper of the Bees

  1. Wow. This woman had a great life, such a tragic conclusion.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s