Louise Imogen Guiney



Louise Imogen Guiney was born in Roxbury, MA in 1861 to Patrick and Jeanette Guiney. An only child, Louise attended Elmhurst, a convent school in Providence, Rhode Island, where she was well-prepared to enter the literary world around her. Two years before graduating Louise lost her father, a brigadier-general in the Civil War, to a wound from the war. His life remained an example to her as a man of morals and dignity. During his service in the war, he wrote encouraging and descriptive letters home which were later published. Louise shared her father's talent in the many letters she sent home from Elmhurst, which letters showed her ease for writing and expressive personality. Her father's early death gave her the responsibility to support herself and her mother, so she began submitting her writing to newspapers and magazines. Although her work was well respected, it did not pay well. She later worked as a postmistress as well as in the Boston Public Library to help subsidize the veteran's pension her mother received. She visited England on numerous occasions in later years and in 1901 she moved to Oxford permanently. Here she continued writing until her death in 1920. With 32 published books and hundreds of magazine contributions, Louise certainly made her mark on the literary world. Though her writing has mostly remained hidden in out-of-print books, her free spirit can still be found in these entertaining and clearly personal essays.

(Compiled by Becky Jensen)

See also

Essays by Louise Imogen Guiney

A bitter complaint of the ungentle reader

The man's attitude towards a book of poetry which is tough to him, is to drop it, even as the gods would have him do; the woman's is to smother it in a sauce of spurious explanation, and gulp it down.

On the delights of an incognito

Perfect happiness, which we pretend is so difficult to get at, lies at either end of our sentient pole: in being intimately recognized, or else in evading recognition altogether.

On dying considered as a dramatic situation

Though we get into this world by no request of our own, we have a great will to stay in it.

An open letter to the moon

Forgive us, benignant, peaceful, affable, propitious Moon. Poet are we not, nor lunatic, nor lover; 'but that we love thee best, O Most Best! believe it.'

On a pleasing encounter with a pickpocket

After years of dullness and decorum, O soul, here is someone to come to play with thee; here is Fun, sent of the immortal gods!

The precept of peace

Not to appear concerned about a desired good is the only method to possess it; full happiness is given, in other words, to the very man who will never sue for it.

The puppy: a portrait

"He is so big and so unsophisticated, that you daily feel the incongruity, and wish, in a vague sort of way, that there was a street boarding-school in your town, where he could rough it away from an adoring family, and learn to be responsible and self-opinionated, like other dogs.

Quiet London

It is as if tremendous London, her teeming thoughts troubling her, said 'Hush!' in the ear of all her own.

On the rabid versus the harmless scholar

The throes of education are as degrading and demoralizing as a hanging.

On teaching one’s grandmother how to suck eggs

The orthodox sucking of eggs, the innocent, austere, meditative pastime, is no more, and the glory of grandams is extinguished forever.

The under dog

Fate must have her joke sometimes, as well as the least of us, and she suffers cheap energy to fill the newspapers for a lustrum, and genius to await identification at the morgue

Wilful sadness in literature

The moment [art] speaks out fully, lets us know all, ceases to represent a choice and a control of its own material, ceases to be, in short, an authority and a mystery, and prefers to set up for a mere Chinese copy of life.
Patrick Madden's New Book
Quotidiana by Patrick Madden

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