Twentieth-Century American Children's Literature

Edith Ballinger Price

Edith Ballinger Price was born in New Brunswick, New Jersey, on April 26, 1897, the daughter of Eleanor French Richards Price and William Farmer Price. Influenced by her grandfather, landscape painter William Trost Richards, she started drawing at an early age and filled many notebooks with lively illustrations of scenes from books she read and the world around her. As a teenager Price studied at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and later at the New York Art Students League and the National Academy of Design.

In 1918 Price submitted a story, "Blue Magic," to St. Nicholas magazine for children. The story was accepted for publication in the magazine and in 1920 was published in book form. The success of this first story encouraged the author to keep writing and many stories and eighteen books eventually followed. Price's serials, short stories, poetry, and illustrations were published in such magazines as Collier's, The Portal, and Youth's Companion. Though Price's primary interest and love was for illustration, her publishers often hired other artists to illustrate her stories. This apparently still rankled many years later because the artist mentioned it more than once in her letters to Special Collections.

Edith Ballinger Price was interested in Girl Scouting and was instrumental in starting the Brownie Scouts program in the United States. She was the national chair or "Great Brown Owl" of the Brownies from 1925 to 1932. She wrote the first Brownie handbook as well as stories for Girl Scout magazines

In the early 1920s Price adopted Burchey May Perry, a child of two who had been born without sight. This daughter was Price's companion and primary interest throughout the rest of her life. My Lady Lee, published in 1925, is a fictionalized account of their early years together.

Ms. Price lived for many years in Newport, Rhode Island, and taught artistic anatomy at the school of the Art Association of Newport, of which she was a council member for twenty-eight years. In 1962 Price moved to Virginia Beach, Virginia, where she worked at A.R.E. Press, a publisher of the works of psychic Edgar Cayce.

Edith Ballinger Price died in Virginia Beach on September 29, 1997, at the age of one hundred.

"David-Beloved" from The Book of David, 1916
"David-Beloved" from The Book of David, 1916
Edith Ballinger Price and grandfather William Trost Richards
Edith Ballinger Price and grandfather William Trost Richards
Cover Illustration for The Four Winds
Cover Illustration for The Four Winds
The Four Winds
The Four Winds
"The Cooks," Cheery Chores, n.d.
"The Cooks," Cheery Chores, n.d.
Illustration for Blue Magic
Illustration for Blue Magic
Blue Magic
Blue Magic
Fan letter to St. Nicholas
Fan letter to St. Nicholas
Fan letter to St. Nicholas
Fan letter to St. Nicholas
Fan letter to St. Nicholas
Fan letter to St. Nicholas
The Little Hearth, 1924
The Little Hearth, 1924
The Little Hearth, 1924
The Little Hearth, 1924
The Little Hearth, 1924
The Little Hearth, 1924
"Last Things" from About Any Small Person, 1922
"Last Things" from About Any Small Person, 1922
Cover design for St. Nicholas, n. d.
Cover design for St. Nicholas, n. d.
Sketchbook by Edith Ballinger Price
Sketchbook by Edith Ballinger Price
Valentine Greeting, 1919
Valentine Greeting, 1919
The American Girl, August 1924
The American Girl, August 1924