ABOUT MARGARET FLINT
Margaret “Peg” Flint was born at Orono, Maine in 1891 to Hannah Ellis Leavitt and Walter Flint. She attended the University of Maine at Orono and, briefly, Simmons College, majoring first in biology, then philosophy. She did not enroll for her senior year at UMO, but she had gained a passion for writing and soon married fellow student Lester Warner Jacobs, who had graduated with a degree in civil engineering. She did not earn a degree herself.
Lester Jacobs’s civil engineering work in the coal industry and later for the Army Corps of Engineers relocated the family several times—to Norfolk, Virginia, Slidell, Louisiana and Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. She and Lester had six children, three born before World War I, three after. During the war years, during which her husband served in the US Army, Margaret lived in her beloved Maine.
THE OLD ASHBURN PLACE by Margaret Flint
Winner of the Dodd, Mead Pictorial Review prize
for the best first novel of 1935
Let us do our work as well,
Both the unseen and the seen;
Make a house where Gods may dwell,
Beautiful, entire, and clean.
--Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
"And Everything Nice" by Bryce Cameron Liston
Used by permission of the artist
Bryce Cameron Liston believes that the highest form of art is the representation of the human figure. As a traditional painter and sculptor, he considers sound draftsmanship and a solid knowledge of human anatomy essential for the successful execution of his work. Collectors around the world are very familiar with his knowledge and talent. When viewing Liston’s work in person you can’t help but to be drawn into the evocative scenes. His paintings scintillate and vibrate with the poetry of light and subtle color variations.
But Liston’s paintings of timeless beauty embody so much more than sound draftsmanship. He believes that an accomplished artist has the power to convey emotion and even passion through his work by virtue of imagination, talent and experience. The artist’s sensibilities, along with his practical knowledge allow him to merge together the technical with the aesthetic, the physical with the spiritual.
Liston’s artistic inspiration comes largely from the late-19th century; he lists John William Waterhouse, John Singer Sargent, Joaquin Sorolla, Anders Zorn and William Bouguereau among his strongest influences. “As an artist my career is dedicated to the integrity and quality of representational fine art.”, says Liston. “My goal is to regain the traditions of the past along with the standards of craftsmanship and training. By studying the great artists of the past, we artists of today can once again regain a full command of proficiency to create great works of art…art about life.”
Margaret’s first novel, The Old Ashburn Place, earned a $10,000 national prize for best first novel of the year in 1935. A phone call from the publisher, Dodd, Mead & Co., had told her she was a finalist. But the follow-up news of her win came over the airwaves, announced by Walter Winchell during his radio newscast. The prize was reported in major papers nationwide, such as the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The Christian Science Monitor, and the Chicago Tribune.
The change in her life from obscure housewife to famous author was as dramatic as it was instantaneous, but her success was severely offset by the loss of her husband in 1936 to the after-effects of WWI gassing. The cash prize, however, enabled her to move the family back to Maine. She renovated the former Pequawket Inn in West Baldwin, which lies within the large acreage land-granted to her father's family after the French and Indian War.
Eight more novels and a flood of newspaper and magazine articles followed, but she never achieved her goal of self-sufficiency as a writer. Homemaking was a more immediately successful passion. People of all ages and backgrounds were attracted to her quiet hospitality. Guests often enjoyed an afternoon tea before the fire, featuring good conversation and her soft molasses cookies or fudge, or a bean supper on the porch, featuring the baked beans and brown bread for which she was locally famous.
As a novelist, her forte was psychological insights into family and neighborhood relationships. She was also noted for her ability to convey the speech patterns of the small region between Sebago Lake and the New Hampshire border, the setting for most of her stories. Her essays on family life, the character of Maine, and on national events as they impacted local life appeared regularly in several Maine newspapers and in The Christian Science Monitor. A life-long member of the Christian Science church, she also published inspirational articles in the church's periodicals.
Her books include:
•The Old Ashburn Place (1936): Novel of bucolic Maine life •Valley of Decision (1937) •Deacon's Road (1938) •Breakneck Brook (1939) •Back O' the Mountain (1940) •Down the Road A Piece (1941) •October Fires (1941) •Enduring Riches (1942) •Dress Right, Dress: The Autobiography of a WAC (1943) Read two 1936 Time Magazine articles about The Old Ashburn Place and Margaret Flint here and here. Read an essay about "The Maine Farm Novels" of Margaret Flint here.
As the second oldest member of the Ashburn "tribe," Charlie Ashburn takes his family responsibilities seriously. He toils tirelessly to keep the rural Maine farmstead going, honoring his mother's legacy by supporting, along with his siblings, the college education of brother Alfred and the schooling of others in the clan. In his own unschooled view, the sacrifices he makes are well worth it if they produce a household that is "beautiful, entire and clean."
Tranquility shatters, however, when Charlie becomes smitten with a well-off girl, Marian Parks, and entangled with his brother Morris's wife, Elsie. While Marian flirts and tantalizes, Elsie ensnares him, leading to an existential crisis that ultimately determines Charlie's future.
Read an essay about "The Maine Farm Novels" of Margaret Flint here.