Nursing Voices

Monday, January 29, 2007

Novelist, Playwright, Nurse

If you haven’t already figured it out, I’ll let you in on a little secret. I love writing. My dream is to one day write groundbreaking articles for major national publications about world events, hobnob with Hollywood’s elite, and write popular novels that are turned into movies. Hey, a girl can dream, can't she? There was a woman who lived my dream. Her name was Mary Roberts Rinehart, and she was a nurse.

Mary was born in 1876 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She entered nursing school when she was 17 years old and married a doctor when she 19. My mother would have liked this girl. She gave birth to her son, and future publisher, Stanley Marshall Rinehart, in 1897. An author’s biggest challenge is finding a publisher. I never thought about giving birth to one. In her book, My Story, published in 1931 by Farrar & Rinehart, Mary describes the training she received in nursing school, and the state of the nursing profession at the end of the 19th century. Mary wrote that in 1890, three years before she entered nursing school, there were only four hundred and seventy-one trained nurses in America. She also said that only two per cent of American women during this time had a high school education or better, and that, remarkably, thirty-two per cent of the women entering nursing schools during the same time were high school graduates. Mary’s training was rigorous, backbreaking work. She said that it molded her character, and gave her life experiences that she would later draw upon during her writing career.

Mary wasn’t exactly a stay-at-home mom. Although she was a dedicated mother, there were times when she wanted to get out of the house. Thank God her Victorian husband wasn’t a domineering jerk, and that he encouraged her to follow her dreams. Mary was the first woman war correspondent during World War I, was a world traveler, hung out with the rich and famous (see the picture of Mary hanging out with her friends Douglas Fairbanks and Cecil B. DeMille), and wrote numerous popular novels. Some of her novels were turned into movies. The phrase, “The butler did it,” came from Mary’s novel, The Door, although that exact phrasing would come later when the book was made into a play. My favorite books come from her Nurse Hilda Adams mystery series. I'll write about those books later.

I wonder what Mary would be writing about today. I bet she’d have a blog.


Blogger The Curmudgeon said...

Rinehart as in Holt, Rinehart & Winston? Very interesting.

Well, when you get your big book contract, remember us "little people," OK?

2:51 PM  
Blogger Deacon Barry said...

I love writing too. I've acheived the playwright and nurse bit, and I've got two partially begun fantasy novels. I've taken to blogging like a pig to potato peelings. I bet creative writing was one of your favourite subjects at school, it was certainly one of mine.

2:53 PM  
Blogger poody said...

I love it a nurse named Mary! I think you would make a greatr novelist. I never miss an entry here and I would so buy a book written by you Mother Jones!

2:56 PM  
Blogger Serial Filler said...

I suspect that many potential novelists never flower because they spend too much time writing and reading blogs.

A compromise might be to write a serial novel in a blog. If it catches on, you will have a ready-made audience for the sequel!

6:56 PM  
Blogger Bohemian Road Nurse... said...

I want an autographed copy of your first book!

7:51 PM  
Blogger Kim said...

This is great! There must be some genetic association between nursing and playwright/author/writer! : D

8:28 PM  
Blogger SQT said...

I bet you write a book somday. And it'll be good too!

11:17 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Amazing that just a little more than 100 years later the world is filled with enpowered women who are nurses and really whatever they want to be. Lets thank Mary for helping bring us there!!

5:19 PM  
Blogger Sid Schwab said...

You've already got the writing thing down. Now it's just a matter of doing it.

12:46 AM  
Blogger Shrinked Immaculate said...

Hmmmmm, I think you might just make it.

7:54 AM  
Blogger The Wal-NutzManiac said...

I've been away for awhile but I'm back now I enjoy reading your blog and would definately buy your books !!! After all there is life after NASCAR !!!

9:24 PM  
Anonymous N=1 said...

Publish this at Progressive Historians. Marvelous stuff! Thanks for writing it!

10:55 AM  

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