University of New England - Innovation for a Healthier Planet

Eleanor Noyes Johnson papers, 1932–1993

Full finding aid (pdf)

Collection Scope and Content

This collection contains hand-written drafts and typescripts of Johnson’s young adult novel, King Alfred II, as well as Armitage Hall. Also included is literary correspondence from 1957-1962, publicity material, book reviews, and published short articles and stories.

Biographical/Historical Note

Eleanor Noyes Johnson was born in Newburyport, Massachusetts, and received her B.A. from the University of New Hampshire in 1932. She taught in New Hampshire and New York City, apprenticed at the Brooklyn Children’s Museum, and earned her Masters degree from NYU in 1947. Johnson was a professor of literature for 12 years at Stephens College for Women in Columbia, Missouri and authored her first children’s book, Mountaintop Summer, in 1959.

In 1960 she returned to New England to teach English composition and children’s literature at Westbrook College. During her 14 years at Westbrook College, Johnson published four more books for children aged 8-12: Buffington Castle (1962), Armitage Hall (1965), King Alfred the Great (1966) and Mrs. Perley’s People (1970). Her books portray spirited young heroes and heroines and close-knit family life, as well as historical topics.

Johnson was an avid traveler, gaining much of the inspiration for her books while traveling. She spent one summer in England expressly to conduct research on King Alfred. Johnson continued to write after retirement, and remained active in the Portland community. Although most of her writing from this time was not published, she did publish two illustrated children’s books in 1985 and 1986: Pirate, The Lighthouse Cat, and Whistle Him In. Her last book, The Wishing Year, was self-published in 1997. She died in 2004.