Born in 1884, Kelly lived in Massachusetts with his family. His father handcrafted carriages, but when fire destroyed the district, Kelly's parents decided to head west. For Kelly this was high adventure. Life in Denver, Colorado, gave him plenty of freedom and enjoyment. The family's decision to go back east left Kelly forlorn. He suffered in silence until he enrolled in Dartmouth College and joined the French club.
Kelly graduated and then went from one newspaper job to another in Illinois and Massachusetts. With the outbreak of World War I, Kelly quit journalism and served as a French instructor for military men going abroad. He volunteered to go to France in 1918 to help the French Foyer de Soldat, where he took charge of entertainment and athletics for Polish soldiers. Kelly then traveled with the Poles to Warsaw, Poland, to aid refugees there. With Poland, Kelly fell in love. He learned their language, traveled extensively, and familiarized himself with their culture.
Kelly couldn't forget his Polish experiences even when he returned to the United States and taught at Mercersburg Academy and then at Dartmouth College. For one year he returned to Krakow, Poland, as a lecturer and scholar and spent much time investigating the Church of Panna Marja (Our Lady Mary). His research gave him the impetus to write the Newbery Medal book The Trumpeter of Krakow.
Continuing to write and teach until World War II, Kelly was requested by the U. S. State Department to help relocate Polish refugees to Mexico. With assistance from others, he was able to provide shelter and safety for people who came to him sick and anguished. Through it all, not one person died, for which Kelly was eternally grateful. After the war, he again returned to Dartmouth as a journalism professor, a position he held for thirty-three in total before his retirement in 1954.
An author and editor of children's books, Kelly wrote magazine articles and stories and served as the chairman of the Pulitzer Prize committee on the novel for three years in the 1950s. Adults alike read Kelly's books for insight and pleasure as they provide an accurate description of the Polish people and their country. Continuing to write until his final few years, Kelly passed away on January 3, 1960.
Did you find this review helpful?