Octave Thanet: Local Author

Alice French (1850–1934), who wrote under the pseudonym Octave Thanet, was born in Andover, Massachusetts but grew up in Davenport, Iowa.  French did not begin writing seriously until she was in her late 20s, and adopted the pen name “Octave Thanet” to help disguise that she was a woman.

French published 17 books, including seven novels, one book of photography, and nine short story collections; her short stories also appeared in prominant magazines such as Century Magazine, Harper’s Monthly, Scribner’s Magazine and Atlantic Monthly. French was a “local colorist” and attempted to bring to life the lives  of the people she observed around her in Iowa and on her Arkansas plantation. Much of her early work deals with regional themes and includes dialect.

First editions of many of French’s books are available in Special Collections.

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