Eleanor Hodgman Porter (1868-1920) was born into an old New England family, and in 1892 she married John Porter. She was blessed with a fine singing voice, and studied for several years at the prestigious New England Conservatory of Music.
In 1907 she began publishing books, such as a series of three novels about a young girl called 'Miss Billy'. But at the same time, a different girl was forming in her mind. In 1913 Pollyanna was published and Pollyanna Whittier was introduced to the reading public. The book was an overnight success: over a million copies were sold in a short space of time, and the book has continued to delight young readers ever since.
The demand for a sequel was immense, and two years later the equally successful Pollyanna Grows Up was published. These two books became popularly known as the 'Glad Books', because of Pollyanna's positive outlook on life. She faces both good times and bad times with optimism, and even succeeds in imparting cheerfulness to grumpy adults such as her spinster aunt Polly. Her outlook is that of Eleanor Porter herself, who said, "I have never believed that we ought to deny discomfort and pain and evil: I have merely thought that it is far better to greet the unknown with a cheer."
The two Pollyanna books are so famous, and so much loved, that after Eleanor Porter's death other writers were commissioned to continue the tale. In all, ten further books were written by four other writers. However, any success these books have enjoyed was due only to their connection to the two classic originals.
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