University of New England - Innovation for a Healthier Planet

Elizabeth Foster collection, 1942-1994

Full finding aid (pdf)

Collection Scope and Content

This collection consists predominantly of typescripts of the author’s published and unpublished novels, novelettes, short stories, and pages from works. It is possible Foster intended to expand upon them at a later time. A few of the works exist in various editions and some typescripts include synopses and a listing of the publications to which the pieces were submitted.

The collection contains some correspondence to the author from her editor, fans and significant writers of her time such as Vita Sackville-West, Mary Roberts Rinehart, Somerset Maugham, Kenneth Roberts, Art Buchwald and Thomas Costain. There is some information about her personal life, newspaper articles and reviews, notices sent by clipping services and one photograph.

Biographical/Historical Note

Elizabeth Foster (Mann) was born in Cleveland, Ohio in 1905 to Elizabeth Dickson and Maximilian Foster. She attended Miss Porter’s School in Farmington, Connecticut, the Art Students League in New York, and the Columbia School of Journalism in New York. In 1929 she married Lloyd Onderdonk Vernon Mann, living first with him in Cold Spring Harbor and later in Oyster Bay, New York. Their two daughters were Mariana Vernon and Nancy Lloyd.

Foster was a prolific freelance writer, composing short stories and poems for publications such as Redbook, Good Housekeeping, Home & Garden, and Trout and Stream. She also became editor of The North Shore Almanac, a supplement to a Long Island newspaper chain. After her divorce in 1939 she began her first novel, Singing Beach (1941), set on an island off the coast of Maine. In 1942 her second novel, The Days Between, was published and bought by Warner Brothers for $25,000.

Foster published her first children’s novel, Gigi, The Story of a Merry-Go-Round Horse in 1943, followed by Dirigo Point, with the setting of Franklin County, Maine. A second Gigi novel, Gigi in America, set in Old Orchard Beach, was published in 1945. The Islanders, her most important Maine-centered novel, was published in 1946 and became a bestseller. It is a family saga focused on her maternal grandfather, Frederick Stoever Dickson, and the home he built on Rangeley Lake. Children of the Mist, published in 1960, is based on an actual eighteenth century English scandal.

Elizabeth Foster died on February 9, 1963, and is buried at the family plot in Evergreen Cemetery, Rangeley, Maine.