Thursday, August 27, 2015

James Oliver Curwood and the Indiana Connection

I was at PulpFest, the annual pulp magazine convention held in Columbus, Ohio, earlier this month and found a copy of The Flaming Forest by James Oliver Curwood. The art on the dust jacket was by the indispensable Walt Louderback (1887-1941) of Valparaiso, Indiana.

James Oliver Curwood (1878-1927) was one of the most popular authors of his day. His stories of the outdoors, the Great Lakes, and the Far North earned him enough to finance the construction of a Norman-style chateau near his home town of Owosso, Michigan. Called Curwood Castle, it now houses a museum dedicated to his life and works.

Walt Louderback created the dust jacket illustrations for at least four books by Curwood, The Flaming Forest: A Novel of the Canadian Northwest (1921), The Country Beyond: A Romance of the Wilderness (1922), The Alaskan: A Novel of the North (1923), and The Ancient Highway: A Novel of High Hearts and Open Woods (1925). Their titles alone invite you to read them.

Curwood's Indiana connections extended to the publisher of some of his books, Bobbs-Merrill of Indianapolis, and to at least two other illustrators, Gayle Porter Hoskins (1887-1962) of Brazil and Hoskins' instructor Frank Schoonover (1877-1972), who taught at the Herron School of Art in Indianapolis in 1927 and possibly later. Hoskins illustrated Philip Steele of the Royal Northwest Mounted Police (1911) and Kazan (1914), while Schoonover provided the illustrations for The Courage of Captain Plum (1908).

Owosso now holds an annual Curwood Festival in honor of its favorite son. The festival takes place in June. You can find the website of the festival by clicking here.

Text copyright 2015 Terence E. Hanley