Sunday, August 24, 2008

Maude Meagher

Maude Meagher [pronouced Mahr] was born in Boston, Massachusetts, April 8, 1895, the daughter of the Rev. H. A. Meagher, a missionary, and his wife Anne Maude (née Tomlinson) Meagher. She was educated at California University, graduating in 1917. Here she met Catherine Urner and became a reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle in 1918, working as a correspondent and actress in England and Germany in 1919-20. She then travelled with Urner through France, Algeria and Italy.

Under the pen-name John Halden, she was a regular contributor to The Children's Newspaper, where she wrote 'Copper Mountain' (1925) which was based on various books (The Friendly Arctic, Hunters of the Great North and My Life with the Eskimo) by Vihjalmur Stefansson. Other serials included 'Eagle Feathers' (1924), 'The Secret of the Ages' (1929), 'The Green Door' (1930), 'The Silver Button' (1932) and 'Pearl River Pirate' (1935). Her work was often based on her extensive travel and interest in archaeology and history.

Whilst in the UK in the 1920s and 1930s, still actively working as a correspondent for the San Francisco Chronicle, she also contributed adventure stories to the boys' paper Champion as Buck Marriott and the Greyfriars Holiday Annual as Montague Wynne; I also suspect she was the author behind 'Lariat' Pete, another Champion contributor.

Returning the the USA, with her friend Carolyn Smiley, Meagher published the magazine World Youth which contained the work of youngsters from 47 different countries, a typical article relating the daily life of a young girl in Sri Lanka. The aim of the magazine was to forge understanding between cultures with young people the target audience.

Apart from a wartime hiatus, the magazine appeared between 1936 and the late 1950s. During the break they began building Casa Tierra, a large adobe house in Los Gatos, Saratoga, California, in 1941. This included making the bricks that formed the walls. The war intervened and their two helpers were drafted, leaving the two women to do most of the building work themselves, completing the work in 1946. Meagher and Smiley wrote a pamphlet, How We Built an Adobe House for World Youth, in 1950. Years later, the house was restored by its current owners (cf. 'Saratoga's Casa Tierra: At one with the earth' by Mary Ann Cook, Saratoga News, 23 Oct 2002).

Retiring in the late 1950s, Meagher and Smiley sold the house to geologist Maurice Tripp and celebrated with a trip to Europe where Smiley, who had a history of heart problems, became ill and died in an Italian monastery. Meagher subsequently became Artist in Residence at the Villa Montalvo, Saratoga, before retiring to Carmel, Monteray, in California in 1966, where she died on January 24, 1977.


White Jade. London, The Scholartis Press, 1930.
The Green Scamander. Boston & New York, Houghton Mifflin Co., 1933; London, Constable, 1934.

Fantastic Traveller. Boston, Houghton Mifflin, 1931; London, W. Heinemann, 1932.
How We Built an Adobe House for World Youth. Saratoga, CA, World Youth, 1950.

Six Sonnets, illus. Valenti Angelo. Grabhorn Press, 1930.

(* The Children's Newspaper © Look and Learn Magazine Ltd. The illustration is by Ernest Prater.)

1 comment:

  1. I met Maude in the early 1970s. I think she was living in Pacific Grove at the time, but maybe it was Carmel. My brother was a friend of hers and wanted me to meet her. A fascinating visit. Her vision for world peace through children. And, as coincidence would have it, I happened to know the Tripp family that had acquired the Casa Tierra Maude had built with her friend. She fondly remembered the Tripps, and later I mentioned Maude to the Tripps and they fondly remember here.
    Bill Roberts, Prunedale, California



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