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Anna Kuhn

LIKE MANY OTHER WRITERS, I HAVE ALWAYS BEEN AN Omnivorous reader, that is a kind of preparation for potential authors. However, one must have a strong urge to say something himself and my particular urge came from an article which I read in Fortune Magazine some two decades ago. I can not even recall the title, but the theme was the Shrine of Lourdes about which I knew nothing whatsoever. After reading the exciting story of the tiny hamlet at the foot of the Pyrennes in southern France where the Blessed Virgin appeared to Bernadette Soubirous and where miraculous cures occurred each year, I studied everything I could find in books, magazines or pamphlets. In fact, the theme took such a hold on my imagination that the following summer I sailed for Europe with Lourdes as my destination!

An unforgettable sojourn in this hallowed spot as part of an English pilgrimage resulted in a book for children entitled A Queen's Command (Bruce, 1940) which narrates the story of the humble shepherdess, who, in 1934, was enrolled in the canon of the saints and is known since as St. Bernadette. Other juvenile books followed, but none ever brought the tremendous inner satisfaction that came with the publication of A Queen's Command!

Currently my creative work has taken a new turn, and I am engaged in writing magazine articles and book reviews in the hope of making the vast field of Catholic literature better known and appreciated. However, the juvenile books written some time ago continue to follow me with deliberate and constant pace as clubs or schools ask for the author of The Quest of Don Bosco (Bruce, 1942), Royal Banners Fly (id., 1946), and other works to speak on juvenile writing.

Fan mail from children in the course of a year, especially during Catholic Book Week, is always gratifying. Recently I received a heart-warming letter from a parochial school lad in the West telling me that he enjoyed The Quest of Don Bosco, and that he hoped some day to be a priest like Father John Bosco.

In my series of children's books I wrote a short biographical sketch of Rose Hawthorne, the daughter of the famous Concord (Massachusetts) writer of the nineteenth century. Rose eventually established the first free cancer clinic in the United States and became Mother Alphonsa of the Dominican Sisters of St. Rose of Lima. This particular story, included in Watching At My Gates (Bruce, 1948), has had many interesting ramifications. Frequently I am asked to write the story for some national magazine. Recently a Catholic visitor to New England learned for the first time of this famous daughter of the Puritan Nathaniel Hawthorne, called me on the telephone and requested me to write the story for a magazine with which he was associated. Calls also come for me to speak about Rose and her magnificent work for the cancerous poor. Thus a tiny acorn into a great oak grows; and once a subject has taken hold of an author's imagination, it is astounding to realize in how many different ways it can be presented to audiences.

Research work on Catholic subject matter is always easy as there are such vast resources from which to draw. Also as one writes of the heroes and heroines of Christendom for youngsters, there is a glow of satisfaction and inner happiness because one is cognizant of the fact that he is going to produce a book with order and beauty inherent in the theme, and that it will in some way be appealing and challenging to teen-agers who may eventually read it. The human interest element in the lives of the saints is often more dramatic than that which is found in ordinary lives, and this feature of my writing I have stressed in my books for children.

My early background and training in public schools ( Somerville High, Somerville, Massachusetts ) as well as my college education (Tufts University, Medford, Massachusetts) did not prepare me for my career as a writer for Catholic readers. Although I did receive an excellent general education, I cannot say that any course or any instructor ever stimulated me to such an interest in the world about me that my dormant potential for writing was drawn out. It was only when eventually I was admitted to the Graduate School of Boston College that the Jesuit Fathers in their quiet and scholarly way made me aware of the truth and beauty of Christendom and gradually taught me the discipline necessary for writing. It was about this time that I received a degree of Master of Education in English from Boston College that I read the article mentioned at the beginning of this brief biographical sketch; and somehow these two incidents are responsible for the auspicious and satisfying career of writing which I have pursued in my leisure time.

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