Susan (or Susanna) Rebecca Graham was born on July 2, 1848, in Nova Scotia. Her family -- or possibly only her mother -- moved to Portland, Maine, circa 1857. (A Charlotte Graham who may to be Susan's mother is in the 1860 census in Portland; if so, Susan had at least two younger siblings -- Charlotte, born about 1851, and Alice, born about 1857.)
Graham Clark was already married when Yensie Walton, the first book in the eponymous series, was published in 1879. The second volume, Yensie Walton's Womanhood, was added in 1882.
From the outset, the books were aimed at Sunday School libraries. A Lothrop ad claimed they had received "the unqualified commendation of eminent religious journals such as the Central Christian Advocate, The Journal and Messenger, The New Orleans Christian Advocate, The Lutheran Observer, Christian at Work, The Dover Morning Star, The Gospel Banner, Philadelphia Methodist, Herald and Presbyter" and included excerpts from reviews in Zion's Advocate and the Episcopal Register. The latter asserted that Yensie would "rank among the best and most popular Sunday-school books."
The series has an odd structure and publishing history. Circa 1885 Lothrop began advertising the "Yensie Walton Books," a five-volume set consisting of the first two Yensie Walton titles, plus three recently-published books (Our Street , The Triple E , Achor ) that appear to have no connection with each other or the earlier stories; instead, they were shoehorned in to create a marketable set. In 1888 when Clark finished Herbert Gardenell's Children, a sequel to Yensie Walton's Womanhood, Lothrop added it to the "Yensie Walton Books." Seven years later came the final volume, whose title proclaimed its series connections: Herbert Gardenell, Jr., or, Yensie's Oldest Son (1895). Thus, only four of the "Yensie Walton Books" actually pertain to Yensie and her family.
In the twentieth century, Mrs Clark wrote a string of novels with women as title characters -- Phyllis Burton: A Tale of New England (1905), Gail Weston (1907), and Janet Vardoff (1910) -- all published by Griffith & Rowland Press. She continued to write for religious presses, and her final two books, Forty-eight Bernard Street and Mrs. Mary's Go-tell, appeared in 1924 as part of The Moody Colportage Library.
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Copyright 2005 - Deidre Johnson