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Rivers Parting

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Book Details

Title:Rivers Parting
Barker, Shirley   
(6 of 6 for author by title)
Peace, My Daughters
Published:   1950
Publisher:Crown Publishers
Tags:England, fiction, historical, New England, romance, U.S.A., Literary Guild Selection

This book was one of the author's most successful works, and became a Literary Guild selection. It is a story of the old world and the new, England and New Hampshire in the 1600s. John Scarlock came from a small farm near Sherwood Forest in England, traveling to build a home in the new world in a young New Hampshire. John's son Will promises him that he will return to England to decide whether the Scarlocks belong in the old world or the new. Will travels to England to attempt to get the commission for ships' masts. There he encounters the "Great Plague" and meets Doll, a girl singing in a tavern. Will and Doll are married at the Annual Goose Fair and later travel back to New Hampshire. Will realizes he has married the wrong girl, for there is Nan Knight. Who will keep Will Scarlock in the end? [Suggest a different description.]

Pages:300 Info

Author Bio for Barker, Shirley

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Shirley Frances Barker (April 4, 1911—November 18, 1965) was an American author, poet, and librarian.

Barker was born in Farmington, New Hampshire, a descendant of early settlers of Massachusetts. She attended the University of New Hampshire, graduating with a B.A. in 1934 as a member of Phi Beta Kappa. While still an undergraduate, she won the Yale Series of Younger Poets Competition with her poetry collection The Dark Hills Under (1933). It was published with a foreword by Stephen Vincent Benet and was well reviewed.

One of the judges had detected some literary affinities between her work and that of Robert Frost, so UNH President Edward M. Lewis asked Barker to send a copy of the collection to Frost, Lewis' friend and correspondent. Frost was enraged by what he perceived as anti-Puritan and anti-theistic sentiments in Barker's poetry and bizarrely insisted that Barker was the illegitimate descendent of a person described in her poem "Portrait". In what his biographer described as "a characteristic act of poetic retaliation", Frost penned the ribald poem "Pride of Ancestry" and the religious poem "Not All There". He did not tell Lewis of his objections to Barker's work and there is no record that there was any correspondence between Frost and Barker.

Barker did not publish another book for sixteen years. She graduated with an A.M. in English from Radcliffe College in 1938 and a degree in library science from the Pratt Institute School of Information and Library Science in 1941. Beginning in 1940, she worked as a librarian at the New York Public Library, primarily in the American history section.

In 1949, she published her debut novel, Peace My Daughters, about the Salem witch trials, which she believed her ancestors had attended. She wrote a series of successful formula historical novels, most of them set in her native New England and some with supernatural elements. Two of her novels, Rivers Parting (1952) and Swear by Apollo (1959), were Literary Guild selections. The success of these novels enabled her to leave the New York Public Library in 1953 and she moved to Concord, New Hampshire.


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