NELL BRINKLEY - "LOVE LETTERS" America's Prolific Romantic Writer

A Collector‟s Gem ! A Book Club Favorite !
♥ ♥ "LOVE LETTERS" ♥ ♥
America's Prolific Romantic Writer
from the Ragtime and Jazz Ages
“Our World Famous Romantic Illustrator”
Lois e. Collins - "Artist on the Green"
with Tom
j. Collins
. . .
The pretty "Brinkley Girls" said farewell to ―the Gibson Girls"!
From Nell Brinkley - 1917
Table of Contents
How I Discovered Nell Brinkley PREFACE Part I………………………..7
Meeting Nell‘s Son and His Wife PREFACE_Part_II……………………..19
Many "Love Letters" and 117 Illustrations by Nell Brinkley ………………..29
January ……………30
February …………..54
March ……………..75
April ………...….…89
May ……………...105
June …………..….113
July ………………114
August …………...125
September …….….148
October ……….….173
November …….….195
December ………...209
HOW I GREW UP – Nell‘s Early Autobiography…………….…. 235
The Artist Nell's Roots – Learning about Nell‘s Colorado Roots . 239
The Nell Brinkley Girl – the song dedicated to Nell in 1908 .......... 246
In A Canoe With You - Sheet Music cover art by Nell …………... 254
Lest She Be Forgotten .………………………………...…………... 258
The Rose Still Grows on the Other Side . . .
ALPHABETIC INDEX 1917 …….……..……………………..…… 261
From Nell Brinkley - 1917
Love Letters ♥♥♥
new girl has come to New York Town – and you saw her – if
you knew she was coming – at the Rialto. She played in a
darkened theatre to the beat of good music, on a square of
canvas that came alive after her slim little figure, clad in white … and
velvet and cloth peasant jacket and skirt, first smiled in it. The New
Girl‘s name is Philippa – she comes from France – and holding out a
slim white hand, with pleading eyes behind it – she leads you back into
it by the rosey byway of a love-story into its war and its beauty, its
laughter and its valour. Philippa is a child of Robert Chamber‘s gifted
She is a girl and a boy, a flying shaft of sunlight and a melancholy
pool in the rain, a timid child, and a bicycle-riding soldier of France
who sails down the tree-sentineled army road with her small skirts
blowing, her little slippered feet pedalling madly, and a despatch that
must not be stolen in her bosom. She is a woman who can love and be
jealous, a waif who hungers to know a mother and father who are only
shapes in her tender, loving fancy, an aristocrat feminine creature with
a gentle laughing face and blowing hair. And you never wonder at all
that, when once she laid a confiding hand on the arm of a particular
artist – irresponsible and soft-hearted, she held him! ―The Girl
Philippa‖ is a beautiful story – with a beautiful girl playing it –
beautifully staged – and beautifully photographed – and it sends you
away – after taking you through stress and unrest that never offends,
though smiling landscapes, and a pretty love story, through struggles
and tussles that would satisfy a piratical small boy, through delicate
From Nell Brinkley - 1917
humor and a few tears – with a smiling lip and contented heart!
A Greater Vitagraph Wonder Picture
By Louis Joseph Vance and Basil Dickey
Nell Brinkley Sees This Thrilling Photo Play Now Running at Loew‟s and Other Best
January 6, 1917
HE Secret Kingdom‖ is a moving picture that would surely
please the fastidious and well-beloved Robert Louis Stevenson,
who, because he had never found a pirate story rich enough
for boy and man – had to right himself one! Its love story, as pretty as a
Love Letters ♥♥♥
faery one, the old comfy story of a childhood tie twining faster and tighter
through the years until it blossoms, a love knot, in the end, would even
please that shy genius who left that softness out of HIS pirate -- and ran
from it in almost every story!
―The Secret Kingdom‖ is a serial. And I don‘t mean one of those that
is the one thing man, girl, or little kid cannot stay faithful to. Mere
mortals are like that, you know. Me – myself, I am almost as shy of them
as the gentle Scot was of ―love-interest‖ – and more – much more afraid!
A man can be loyal to the love of his life through year after year, go from it
at morning and come to it again at twilight, be apart from it this month and
return to it another – and find it always fair. Man can follow the long story of
his duty to the end of the road and never grow cold. Woman-kind can do that,
A little child can put a soiled water-color (home manufacture) of a rabbit
between the pages of a “Boy Scout on a South-sea Island” or the beautiful tale
of the “Twelve Dancing Princesses” on Sunday night, and begin again, where
he left off, on Friday when school is done, and be all afire anew and afresh, as
though he had never slept and done his sums between. We can be faithful to
most anything, but a continued story – most times! And there we‟re inconstant!
But here‟s a tale that‟s not that sort! “The Secret Kingdom” is no poor
adventure! Through it wave the palms of the Indies and the sea-like prairiegrass of Arizona. The great blue sea plays His role in it – of tragedy and
beauty. Robinson Crusoe‟s virgin forest seems to come out of remote fancyland to play a part in this piratical, courtly, splendid love story. There are
mountains purple and lovely enough to satisfy even the mountain-born.
There‟s a little child to please mother-kind. Pirates sail through it, bearded and
singing, on a murderous barque.
Gold lace and ermine and a plotting Prime Minister, whom you heartily
hate and grudgingly admire carry the pomp and the people of the story. The
hero – like the Prince who rode to find the Apple of Contentment and the White
Bird of Happiness – from a slim little boy in velvet in a Balkan Kingdom, lives
his life from world‟s end to world‟s end, from cowboy-land to Voo-doo jungle.
This tale, like the fancy one, calls in even the East and the West wind to
show the way to strange lands. And then – and then – there‟s a villainous who
is so enchanting, so very pretty and clever, that you – if you were the cow-boy
Prince, you, too, would yield to the sorcery of her eyes and allow her to steal
From Nell Brinkley - 1917
the letter out of your very pocket! And then – there‟s a hero – and a girl he
loves, with curls – to make the story all a story should be.
I am luckier than you. I have seen – many more than one episode, all in
one Arabian Nights entertainment – while you are only ready to begin – but,
like you, I need yet to know the end. And I surely am going to!
Of course there are Daddies who can no more get their little family an
automobile for them to sail about in than he can get them a ―ruby brush and a
diamond tree,‖ so this little picture is of course not for them; but there are Daddies
who can – and do not. The Daddy is a bad citizen who makes his family into a little
pig like the one in the story. ―Thees little Peeg has no roas‘ biff—and cr—r—ried,‖
instead of making them, as he can so easily do, into ―Thees little Peeg had
SOMME!‖ Now that automobiles and roas‘ biff are so thick as bees about a honeypot and make so much happiness in the world!
Automobile Show
Love Letters ♥♥♥
From Nell Brinkley - 1917
Love Is Blind
But Not Too Blind to See a Pretty Girl
January 10
PHRODITE‟S son asks alms. Everywhere. His silvery-towseled head
is seen piteously in the Winter streets – one foot atop the other to warm
a pink sole at a time. He smiles in the Spring streets when the maples
are in a cloud of delicate bud – and his head rises like a yellow jonquil from the
stone walling by the sidewalk. He grins in Summer and seems to need largess
more than ever, though his little ivory and rose body can go naked with joy.
And passing him – girl-and woman-kind – wavers and leans and cannot resist.
For he is blind. But not so blind, but that if she is pretty – that leaning damosel
– she finds a round, merry, adoring robin-eye flying open into her own!
Love Letters ♥♥♥
Jane Cowl in “Lilac Time”
Jane Cowl and Orme Caldara
March 9
LITTLE brown-eyed girl in a big brocade coat sank into her seat close
to me at the “Republic,” and turning a fairly dazzling smile up into the
eyes of the man with her, whispered, “I just adore Jane Cowl!” He
must have been pretty glad he brought her.
I don‟t care much for “just adore.” It‟s like the (he) who brushes up the
train-fulls of elderly ladies when they get off at California – just to („ aout!)”
… But I have to here use it just the same. I adore Jane Cowl, and her play, and
the name of it, the humor of it that always just saves your life at the minute you
are going to dissolve away into sea-water. The entire group of actors who play
with her, the beauty of the settings – and even the ending – for it could never
have been any other way – in spite of the truth that I almost had to swim home
because of it.
From Nell Brinkley - 1917
“Lilac Time” sounds like something soft and tender, full of color and
sunshine and purple shadows and a tiny wrench of haunting sadness in its
sweet perfume. And “Lilac Time” is that. It is both a glimpse at the truth of
Life and the beauty of Youth. And both are glad and sad at the same moment.
The story is laid in a little French village, where the British troops are
fighting and smiling and dreaming of the good things there were to do at home
– and swearing at one another for dreaming aloud. A big English major and his
immediate sides are quartered at a little rose grown farmhouse where there is
old Julian, who thinks in his feeble mind that the old days of the war he fought
through are back again, his horse Rosalie, a lively family of chattering women,
the sunshine-faced Cure, and JEANNINE. There is also a young Lieutenant
Blythe, a beloved of the merry, gloomy group of officers around him.
And there begins your story. It would be a pity – great pity – to finish it.
To give you any of the mirth, the realism, the beauty, the delicious struggles of
the young Britishers with the puzzled, merry French around them, would be but
a half-glimpse in a clouded mirror. And to tell the story would spell it all for
you. It is quite plenty to tell you that you will see in “Lilac Time” an excellent
and lovely little play, Jane Cowl with a pretty, stumbling to her tongue that is
really a French girl attempting English and doing it rather well, a shining array
of actors who were never themselves for an instant – but the men they were
meant to be – Englishmen far away from home, sighing for home, singing for
their soul‟s sanity, laughing because they were young and could not weep for
long, brave in their uniforms, boyishly hungry all the time, and those others
who are old Julien – Jacques Riffard – and the beautiful smile Cure. I cannot
say enough for them! They are stars – every one who play in “Lilac Time.”
“Lilac Time” is the first “war-play” that seems good to me – real to me,
human, merry, mournful. And yet it‟s realism does not send a dead man to take
you actually on a magic rug in France. And the truest thing in the whole play is
the spirit of the women of France that cries through the lips of the little
playwright and actress, Jane Cowl, when she gives all she has and then calls
aloud to all the world, to the sound of marching feet, “Vive la France ! Vive
L‟Angleterre ! Vive la Mere !”
From Nell Brinkley - 1917
Love Letters ♥♥♥
“The Flower of the Army”
May 5
OVE, proud Love, salutes the flag of his country, and gives over for
awhile his monopoly of its women. American girlhood, lovely or plain,
is looking over and beyond the curls of his bright head, higher to the
crimson bars and white, the frosting of stars on a field of blue, of Old Glory
whipping in the winds of the sky that bends above our wide good country – and
wonders how she may help! Some can only save to serve. Some give of
money in their pockets, and their time when they have lots of both. Some give
a little money, when both money and time are scanty. Some give the men they
love, and raising their eyes to the flags that fly on every street, smile – and are
bigger women for the thing they feel in their breasts. Some go to be the
“flower‟ „ of the army – not, if you please, O makers of romance, in quest of
the sentimental, for the girl or woman who wears the Red Cross knows
drudgery and the plain hard business of obedience and dull detail. Love
sometimes finds her there, real Love – but the things that send her and the
things she finds “out there” are, in their splendor, white diamonds beside the
poor glass, of cheap sentimentality.
I have made the face under the white coif with its crimson cross a pretty
one, because there is no such-thing as a homely one under that head-dress, no
matter how plain it was under a Spring bonnet. Ask the wistful soldier over
whom it bends.
Love Letters ♥♥♥
From Nell Brinkley - 1917
“News from the Front”
September 8
UT of the yellow pages written somewhere in France the words leap and
That night on a sweet-smelling pillow the girl that‟s left behind
remembers and dreams of bits of words that stand out in the dark behind
her eyelids.
“The rattling of your shutters sounds to you like the machine-gun fire I hear as I
write, Babette. No worse than that. I dream of you” – and she is glad he has her picture
– the best one!
“I shut my eyes to danger – so don‟t worry” – they say there is nothing so
mysteriously delectable and fascinating as the piquant dark face of a little French nurse.
May he shut his eyes!
“The jam was great! You should have seen it vanish. You are the” -- And Babette is
glad while she feels, in her own red kitten‟s mouth the melting of the strawberry-jam she
made and knows is DELICIOSO! He whacked up, of course, and her lips curl in the dark
in crinkling sympathy with the Sammy-faces she sees ringed around.
“I gave the driving-cap you made me to a chap who hasn‟t any folks. Do you mind?
You are such a good little soul!” -- Does she mind! A big tear rolls down a warm cheek
and makes a round damp spot on the pillow, and Babette sees a laughing dark face – the
heroic soldier of France! Under the soft wool that her own fingers knew the honor of
fashioning! Does she mind?
“I – Love – You” – and Babette remembers his voice – and prayer.
Love Letters ♥♥♥
From Nell Brinkley - 1917
America‟s Thanksgiving
November 28
SPEAK to you over rolling and steep mountains, over pine forests and hot
sands, from one gray sea to the other blue one – I, the Spirit of your Country.
My name is Columbia. The stars are in my hair and crimson bars clothe my
body – and I am so bright that you may shade your eyes with your two curved hands and,
looking on me, never see me.
“My home is in old Washington of memories. But not there. I am in your house – in
your heart. In the house and heart of your neighbor – in the little breast of your child in
school. I am the thing in that secret pool of thought within two you where emotions rise
and toss their dancing arms – the pulse that drums and quickens when your feet touch the
earth of your “native land.” I am the heart in your body that can labor gallantly for an
ideal – a star – and die for it in a strange land.
“I am the conjured vision of that sweet, brave thing in your head and heart that
defends your hearth, your child, your honor, the house that is yours and that within it that
you have made yours. I am a small voice in your heart – yet, lo! – I am a mighty creature
of blinding beauty! You can never see me, but you have made an image of me for your
delight. You have given me a voice – and so I speak to you.
“Sailor-boy and Soldier-boy in my service – for your service, I thank you! You, little
debutante – for your busy fingers and the things they knit. Little shop-girl, for your mite
that bought a Liberty Bond – I know your pocketbook. MOTHER – for your son! Ruddy
farmer – for your labor, your brown earth, your food.
“Girl under the Red Cross – your tireless hands, your patience, your knowledge, your
sacrifice. Little thing in pinafore – that pennies from your hot little hand, for these and
the letters you write – bright tears, light hearts, and thanks! Gray man of plenty – for
your time, your gold, your brain, given lavishly!
“You – butterfly – painted lovely thing of grace and genius, actor-folk, for your big
heart, your open hand, for the treasure you have earned and poured out for me! „Society
pet,‟ for the giving of all you have – your money, your playtime!
“I am in your hearts. I am rich this day for that. The stars in my hair grow blinding
bright – exultantly – for I walk my land to-day -- alive!”
From Nell Brinkley - 1917
From Nell Brinkley - 1917
Authors : Tom j. Collins and Lois e. Giambruno Collins at Spring Lake
Photos by Peter Royle – United Kingdom
Talented Nell Brinkley was America‟s American Idol, the celebrated romantic-writer and
illustrator during the age of Norman Rockwell. She was a self taught artist, born in
Denver just before the 1890‟s. When she was still in high school, the Denver Post and
later the Denver Times, hired “little Smearo.”
Soon, in October 1907, she was asked to come to New York as an illustrator and reporter for William
Randolph Hearst and his editor Arthur Brisbane at the New York Evening Journal in New York. Within
a few months she became wildly popular with New Yorkers. She was assigned as a reporter to
interview Evelyn Nesbitt-Thaw, the wife of the love-triangle murderer Harry Thaw, who had killed the
famous architect Stanford White. Nell‟s very original large romantic illustrations took New York by
storm. Within a few months, her talent was adopted as the theme in song and staging as The Brinkley
Girl at the 1908 Ziegfeld Follies, played by later silent film star Mae Murray. The young Helen Hayes
played a Brinkley Girl in the 1909 play Jack the Giant Killer. Nell became a reviewer of Broadway
shows, night club acts and silent movies, sketching in the dark such stars as Mae West, Ethel Barrymore
and even Nell‟s future father-in-law!
Her prolific work appeared for over 30 years. Her talent was shown in other Hearst publications such as
the American Weekly, the Daily Mirror, many big town syndicated newspapers throughout the USA,
Paris and the UK. She contributed to King Features Syndicate and also to magazines such as Harpers,
Cosmopolitan, Puck and Good Housekeeping. She wrote and illustrated a charming book for children‟s
piano lessons. Nell‟s writings - which we call Love Letters - go together with her pen-and-ink drawings
like “peas and carrots.”
She could draw the wind, the sea and the sky in come-alive action! Charles Dana Gibson's more formal
“society” Gibson Girls were replaced by Nell‟s pretty “everyday” Brinkley Girls with their free flowing
dresses and curly hair depicting lively feminine beauty. Nell Brinkley‟s work as an illustrator
influenced many later women artists.