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Saturday, April 06, 2013

Mary Louise Parker

Trying to find out anything about the author Mary Louise Parker is like trying to swim through molasses. Search for her on the internet and you are swamped with information and images for the (admittedly highly attractive) actress Mary-Louise Parker. Now Mary-Louise can do no wrong because she is one of the stars of Red, based on the comic written by Warren Ellis, but in this instance of Google searching you would wish that you would weed her out of the results. Removing the word "actress" still gets you 13,800,000 hits; removing various other terms (theatre, Bruce Willis, Weeds, etc.) and I was down to 3.6 million hits. At which point I gave up.

Working from the other direction, e.g. "Mary Louise Parker illustrator" wasn't much help either. Reference books offer little, although Parker does have an entry in Sue Sims and Hilary Clare's Encyclopedia of Girls' School Stories. They, too, seem to have drawn a blank as far as information about her life is concerned, so I don't feel quite so bad.

In that book, Kat Tyler describes Parker as belonging to the 'jolly japes' school of writing, "with plenty of dramatic incident; readers who like a densely plotted story may well enjoy Parker's books ... Characterisation and character conflict are not Parker's strong point, so she needs to fall back on a great deal of 'plot' to keep things going; perhaps it is not surprising that she repeats motifs so often."

While it has been impossible to find anything solid about Mary Louise Parker, it is possible to speculate a little. You will notice from the list of her works below that a number of her books were illustrated by an artist who signed their work M.L.P. There was also artwork signed by L. Parker and, in one instance, when she illustrated Pennie by Bertha & Ernest Cobb (Sampson Low, 1930), the British Library Catalogue notes her name in full. (The book also contains illustrations from its original American edition by J. F. Bridgman.)

The earliest works signed by L. Parker date from 1923. 


Pat of the Fifth, illus. MLP. London, Sampson Low, 1927.
Mollie of St. Mildred's, illus. MLP. London, Sampson Low, 1928.
Diana and Pam – Chums, illus. MLP. London, Sampson Low, 1929.
The Girls of St. Hilda's, illus. MLP. London, Sampson Low, 1930.
'Miss Spitfire' at School. London, Sampson Low, 1931.
The Mystery of the New Girl. London, Sampson Low, 1932.
Good Chums All. London, Sampson Low, 1933.
One Thrilling Term. London, Sampson Low, 1934.
The Queer New Girl. London, Sampson Low, 1934.
Madcap Jill at School, illus. MLP. London, Sampson Low, 1934.
A Jolly Trio, illus. MLP. London, Sampson Low, 1935.
Captain, Pro. Tem.. London, Sampson Low, 1936.
Judy Arrives!. London, Sampson Low, 1936.
'Peter' and Co.. London, Sampson Low, 1937.
Top Dogs v. The Duds, illus. E. Sharp. London, Sampson Low, 1937.
Dormitory Seven. London, Sampson Low, 1938.
Fifth Form Quins. London, Sampson Low, 1938.
The Triumphant Term. London, Sampson Low, 1939.
The Twins at School. London, Sampson Low, 1939.
Dormitory 'Wistaria'. London, Sampson Low, 1947.
Suzette Wins Her Way. London, Sampson Low, 1947.
Three New Girls. London, Sampson Low, n.d. [1949]

Brother Eskimo by Alan Sullivan. London, Sampson Low, 1923. [Frontispiece]
The Scourge of the Moors by H. Turing Bruce. London, Sampson Low, 1923.
Their Island Home: The later adventures of the Swiss Family Robinson by Jules Verne. London, Sampson Low, 1923?
The Wreck of the Andromeda by Harry Collingwood. London, Sampson Low, 1923?
Pennie by Bertha & Ernest Cobb. London, Sampson Low, 1930. [Frontispiece]

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