The Case of the Wrong Carpenter

There were two 20th century children’s writers called Frances Carpenter.  On-line book sites rarely distinguish them.  The “right” Carpenter was the real name of a busy USA educator.  The “wrong” Carpenter was a pseudonym for one of the shadowy “men behind girl’s fiction” of the Thirties and beyond.

6790795Frances Carpenter (UK) wrote two children’s books, A Rebel Schoolgirl and the lesser-known Sally of the Circus, both reprinted in the 1950s.  Their author had been published earlier under his own name.

Horace Eli Boyten (21.8.1901 – 9.4.1986) was born in Bishop’s Stortford, Hertfordshire, being noted there in the 1911 census, and later is said to have lived in Highgate.  In the 1920s he wrote some boy’s and girl’s fiction as H.E. Boyten, including the 1926 Chums serial Plot and Peril, an historical adventure published in book form the same year.  About this time Boyten began a long career with the Amalgamated Press in editorial and writing capacities for their girl’s weekly papers such as Girl’s Crystal and School Friend.  Most such Amalgamated writers were male and adopted female pseudonyms usually unrelated to their real names, although Boyten for some work became “Enid” Boyten just as Ernest McKeag became “Eileen”.

Boyten’s best-remembered characters were the “Silent Three” schoolgirls created with editor Stewart Pride.  The three heroines wore masks and hooded robes to fight crime and injustice throughout numerous text and picture stories, illustrated initially by the talented Evelyn Flinders, a veteran of the schoolgirl “hooded secret society” genre.  (A guide to the series, A Silent Three Companion, was privately published by Marion Waters in 1995, indicative of a continuing interest in the stories.)

In 1953 a feminine version of Boyten’s name came to the attention of solicitors acting for Enid Blyton.  Perhaps an “Enid Boyten” lead story in several School Friend annuals had been a step too far.  Horace Eli agreed to change his “Enid” to “Hilda Boyten”.  However he seems to have continued writing as “Helen Crawford” without incident.  In person he was described as “a very nice chap, quiet and modest”.

Other short fiction, picture-scripts or articles by Boyten probably lie undiscovered in old periodicals, mainly unattributed or under pseudonyms.  One short story under Boyten’s own name appeared as late as 1977 in a “Super Book of Ghost Stories” published by Hamlyn.  He died in 1986 in Haringey, North London.

Bibliography as Frances Carpenter:

A Rebel Schoolgirl. Glasgow & London, Blackie, 1938.

Sally of the Circus. London, A. & C. Black Ltd., 1939.

Frances Carpenter (USA) was the geographer and traveller Frances Aretta Carpenter, B.A., F.R.G.S., (30.4.1890 – 2.11.1972), a native of Washington, D.C. and a Vice President of the International Society of Woman Geographers.  Some of her early textbooks were written in collaboration with her father Frank G. Carpenter, himself a traveller and author.  Frances married W. Chapin Huntington of the United States Foreign Service and was very active both in community life and in further travel, but continued to write under the name of Carpenter.  Nearly all her books were aimed at promoting international understanding and empathy with other cultures; “Tales of a Chinese Grandmother” and its companions became particularly appreciated by immigrant communities in America.

Bibliography of Story Collections:

Tales of a Basque Grandmother. Garden City, New York, Doubleday, Doran & Co. Inc., 1930.

Tales of a Russian Grandmother. Doubleday, Doran & Co., 1933.

Tales of a Chinese Grandmother. Doubleday, Doran & Co., 1937.

Tales of a Swiss Grandmother. Doubleday, Doran & Co., 1940.

Tales of a Korean Grandmother. Garden City, N.Y., Doubleday, 1947.

Wonder Tales of Horses and Heroes. Doubleday, 1952.

Wonder Tales of Dogs and Cats. Doubleday, 1955.

Wonder Tales of Seas and Ships. Doubleday, 1959.

The Elephant’s Bathtub: wonder tales from the Far East. Eau Claire, Wisconsin, E.M. Hale & Co., 1962.

African Wonder Tales. Doubleday, 1963.

The Mouse Palace. New York, McGraw-Hill, 1964. [novella]

Spooks and Scoundrels. Chicago, Science Research Associates, 1968.

[extract from African Wonder Tales]

South American Wonder Tales.  Chicago, Follett Pub. Co., 1969

People from the Sky: Ainu tales from northern Japan. Doubleday, 1972

Bibliography of educational books, etc:

The Foods We Eat. New York, Cincinnati, Chicago, Boston & Atlanta, American Book Co., 1925

The Houses We Live In. American Book Co., 1926

The Clothes We Wear. American Book Co., 1926

[all three: Journey Club Travels; Carpenter, Frank G. & Frances]

Ourselves and Our City. American Book Co., 1928

The Ways We Travel. American Book Co., 1925

[both: Journey Club Travels; Carpenter, Frances]

Our little friends of Eskimo land, Papik and Natsek. American Book Co., 1931.

An Elementary Geography. (1932 cited)

Our World and Ourselves Book One: Our Neighbors Near and Far. American Book Co., 1933.

[with separate “Teacher’s Guide” and “My Geography Workbook”, 1934]

Our little friends of the Arabian desert, Adi and Hamda. American Book Co., 1934.

Our little friends of the Netherlands, Dirk and Dientje. American Book Co., 1935

Workbook for Around the World with the Children.  American Book Co., 1936.

[for a republication of Around the World with the Children by Frank G. Carpenter]

Publication Date:


Our little friends of Norway, Ola and Marit. American Book Co., 1936.

Our little friends of China, Ah Yu and Ying Hwa. American Book Co., 1937

Our State Flags.  Boston, B. Humphries, 1936.

Our Little Neighbors at Work and Play – Here, There, Then, and Now. American Book Co., 1939.

Our Indian Friends, Bear Paw and Bright Star. American Book Co., 1939.

[extracted from Our Little Neighbors at Work and Play]

Our little friends of Switzerland, Hansli & Heidi. American Book Co., 1941

Our South American Neighbors. American Book Co., 1942

The Pacific: Its Lands and Peoples. American Book Co., 1944.

Canada and Her Northern Neighbors. American Book Co., 1946

Newfoundland: Canada’s neighbor to the east. American Book Co., 1946.

[Extracted from Canada and Her Northern Neighbors.]

Children of Our World. American Book Co., 1949

[with separate “Workbook” and “Teacher’s Manual”]

Caribbean Lands: Mexico, Central America, and the West Indies. American Book Co., 1950

Our Homes and Our Neighbors. American Book Co., 1956

[with separate “Workbook” and “Teacher’s Guide”]

Pocahontas and Her World.  New York, Alfred A. Knopf, 1957

Holiday in Washington. Alfred A. Knopf, 1958.

[Children’s documentary fiction.]

Carp’s Washington (edited). New York, McGraw-Hill, 1960.

[1880 articles by Frank G. Carpenter, edited by Frances Carpenter.]

The Story of East Africa. Cincinnati, McCormick-Mathew Pub. Co., 1967.

The Story of Korea. McCormick-Mathew Pub. Co., 1969.

The two Frances Carpenters, both writing almost exclusively for children, could hardly have been more different.  The “right” Carpenter was female and very visible, writing at least 40 books of fact and folklore.  The “wrong” Carpenter was male, writing children’s popular fiction under pseudonyms, and his full output may remain forever unknown.

(Note: this is a set of brief jottings rather than a fully authoritative and cultured Jot, but the disambiguation may be worthwhile.)

Many thanks — N and R. Team Jot101

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