Mazo de la Roche was born in Canada in 1879. She is most known for her Jalna series, spanning sixteen novels, despite having written an autobiography (Ringing the Changes), plays, children’s stories, and more. Precisely, she wrote “50 short stories, 23 novels, and 13 plays by her career’s end” (Plummer). Munsey’s Magazine was the source of her first publication in 1902; her first novel wasn’t published until over two decades later in 1923.
Though de la Roche didn’t release her novels chronologically, in terms of the Jalna storylines, they follow the Whiteoak family over the course of a century. It’s said that the books can be read as individual texts, rather than having to be read in chronological order. De la Roche rocketed to fame with the 1927 publication of Jalna, resulting in a $10,000 prize from Atlantic Monthly. Wary of the attention now brought upon herself, she attempted to stay out of the spotlight. This may be attributed to her sufferings from depression and several breakdowns.
Becoming a household name in her time, her fame can be seen in how often her works circulated at Sylvia Beach’s Left Bank bookshop Shakespeare and Company. Beach had 9 of de la Roche’s novels available for borrowing. Patrons borrowed her works a total of 92 times with Jalna being the most popular of her works at the bookshop (with 16 borrowings).
Shakespeare and Company Project: https://shakespeareandco.princeton.edu