Open main menu

Ann Head (née Anne Wales Christensen) (1915 – 1968) was an American fiction writer whose work was regularly published in magazines including Redbook, Cosmopolitan, Good Housekeeping, McCall's, Ladies Home Journal, and others during the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s.

Ann Head
Ann Head 1962.jpg
Born
Anne Wales Christensen

(1915-10-30)October 30, 1915
Beaufort, South Carolina
DiedMay 7, 1968(1968-05-07) (aged 52)
Beaufort, South Carolina
Other namesAnne Christensen Morse
OccupationWriter
Years active1945-67
Notable work
Mr. and Mrs. Bo Jo Jones

She wrote at least nine novels and two serial novels that were published in magazines, four of which were also published as books, and at least 21 published short stories. Her most famous work, Mr. and Mrs. Bo Jo Jones, a novel about a teen pregnancy, was made into a TV movie and stayed in print for four decades.[1]

She was a mentor to novelist Pat Conroy after teaching him when he was a senior in high school.[2]

Early life and educationEdit

Head was born on October 30, 1915, in Beaufort, South Carolina.[2][3][4] Her father was Niels Christensen Jr., who owned the Beaufort Gazette newspaper from 1903-22 and served in the South Carolina Senate from 1905-25,[2][5][6] and her mother was Katherine (Nancy) Wales Stratton Christensen, from Boston.[6][7] Head grew up in Beaufort and attended the school founded by her paternal grandmother, Abbie Holmes Christensen,[6] an abolitionist who moved from Boston to Beaufort and started the Port Royal Agricultural School, known locally as the Shanklin School, to educate freed slaves after the Union army occupied Beaufort early in the Civil War.[2][1][8] Her grandfather, Niels Christensen,[6] was a Union soldier in the Civil War and served as superintendent of the Beaufort National Cemetery from 1870-76.[9]

Head had three siblings — a younger sister, Andrea (Andy) Christensen Rawson,[6] who became a published poet in her later years; a younger brother, Stratton Christensen,[6] who was the youngest man ever elected to the South Carolina legislature before he was lost at sea while serving as a Navy ensign in June 1942; and an older brother, Niels Christensen III.[6]

In her adolescence, she was sent to Boston to live with her maternal grandparents Solomon Piper Stratton[7] and Annie Wales Stratton and to attend The Cambridge School, though she spent her summers and vacations in Beaufort with her family.[2] Head was a writer from an early age,[3] and completed her first book at age 8. After graduating from high school, she attended Antioch College, Ohio,[3] and studied social work,[3] as part of which she had work experience in an orphanage, a hospital and a reformatory.[2][3] She was already working as a freelance writer when she met her first husband, engineer and inventor Howard Head, in December 1938. They married on February 26, 1939,[10] and had a daughter. Head divorced her husband in 1944, and later married Stanley F. Morse, with whom she had a second daughter.[2]

CareerEdit

Head sold her first piece of fiction to Cosmopolitan when she was 28.[3][11] After her first marriage ended, she continued to write to support herself and her daughter. In 1946, Cosmopolitan used Head's name in their advertisements promoting the magazine to women readers as "filled with the world's greatest emotional writing",[12][13] saying, "she [the reader] is newly aware of the wonder and beauty of living, thanks to a beautifully told story by Ann Head";[12] "Ann Head's new story in Cosmopolitan Magazine has stirred her impressionable mind."[13]

Head wrote short stories,[14][15][16] novelettes, and serials with "charm and gaiety"[16] for magazines such as the Saturday Evening Post, Collier's, Ladies Home Journal, Redbook, McCall's, and Good Housekeeping.[11] Her goal was to write one story a month in hopes of selling at least three per year.[2]

When the fiction magazine market dried up in the late 1950s she turned to writing books and had four novels published. Her books were published in hard cover and then paperback in many countries. McGraw-Hill, the publishers of her first novel, Fair with Rain (1957), promoted it by sending to book review editors an engraved invitation to the wedding of Angela to David Blair, followed by a handwritten postcard informing them that the wedding was off, and finally, a copy of the novel with a covering letter from a McGraw-Hill representative.[17] The novel is written in the first person, from the point of view of Janet Blair, a mother of four children, the oldest of whom (David) is away at college, and writes to say he is bringing a girl (Angela) home.[15] One reviewer, comparing Head to Betty MacDonald, described it as "a book full of sharp humor, very well assembled",[14] although he thought that Head wrote with "a rambling style".[14] Other reviewers said the book "maintains a light, swift pace ... breezily omitting all dull details";[18] "Ann Head's humor is ingratiating, and she writes of family life with a whimsicality that never descends to ickiness";[19] "recommended when you feel like meeting a pleasant and shrewdly observed family".[20]

Although Fair with Rain received positive reviews, one reviewer felt that Head's second novel, Always in August (Doubleday, 1961), was a "vast improvement".[21] Set on a plantation in South Carolina,[11][21] it is told retrospectively[21][22] in the first person[11] by the main character, Lucy.[11][21][22] Reviewers described it as "a tense romance" with "a good bit of drama .. and several hankies-ful of tears";[22] "primarily a romance but with a nicely sustained quality of suspense throughout."[23] It received a largely positive response, although one critic said it had "a prosaic plot, written in a stilted style."[24] Other reviewers found some faults: one reviewer considered the heroine "an apologetic door-mat [who] loses admiration if not sympathy by her whimpering",[23] while another thought the villain, Gloria, was unconvincing, saying, "there just doesn't seem to be that much substance there."[11] It was recommended to those who "enjoy entertainment mildly flavoured with tragedy",[25] and its author was described as "skilled in descriptive ability and in setting atmospheres",[26] who "writes of [the South] with [] love and understanding."[23]

Everyone Adored Cara (Doubleday, 1963)

Mr. and Mrs. Bo Jo Jones (Putnam, 1967) became her best-known work and was made into a movie for television in 1971.[27] It was first published as an adult novel, and shortly afterwards marketed towards adolescents.[28] In the early 1970s, Mr. and Mrs. Bo Jo Jones was included in the curricula and libraries of some schools, and was popular as an ' "adolescent novel" ... dealing with adolescent problems.'[29] There were some calls to remove it from schools due to its subject matter.[30] It was republished by Signet Books and was in print until recently.  

Head taught a creative writing class at Beaufort High School, where she mentored a student named Pat Conroy, who later became a famous novelist.[2][4] The two spent much time together, and Conroy’s autobiography included a chapter about Ann titled "Cookbook (My First Novelist)", noting, “Every time I sell a book, I put a rose on her grave.”[31]

DeathEdit

Head died suddenly May 7, 1968, after a cerebral aneurysm at age 52. She was buried the next day at the Parish Church of St. Helena in Beaufort.[2][4]

Published worksEdit

Novels (Books)Edit

Novels (Published in magazines)Edit

  • "Farewell to Innocence" (Redbook, September 1951)
  • "All Through the Night" (McCall's, September 1953)
  • "A Little World All Her Own" (McCall's, November 1954)
  • "What Do They See in Each Other?' (Companion, December 1956)
  • "David’s New Girl (Fair With Rain)" (Ladies Home Journal, April 1957)
  • "I Am Watching You" (McCall's, November 1957)
  • "Always In August" (McCall's, August 1961)
  • "Everybody Adored Cara" (Redbook, April 1963)
  • "Mr. And Mrs. Bo Jo Jones" (Good Housekeeping, October 1966) [27]

NovellasEdit

  • "The Lost and The Found" (Good Housekeeping, April 1960)

Short StoriesEdit

  • "Carrot Top" (Cosmopolitan, January 1945) [3]
  • "The Impossible Journey" (Cosmopolitan, February 1945)
  • "The Lady and the Guy" (McCall's, July 1945)
  • "The Captain’s Wife" (McCall's, September 1945)
  • "The Flowers That Bloom in the Spring" (Cosmopolitan, November 1945)
  • "Only To Return" (McCall's, November 1945)
  • "Out of Order" (Cosmopolitan, March 1946)
  • "Found: A Woman" (Good Housekeeping, July 1947)
  • "New Memory" (W.H. Companion, May 1948)
  • "This Stranger, His Wife" (McCall's, February 1950)
  • "Answer to Three Prayers" (McCall's, November 1950)
  • "The Inner Circle" (McCall's, February 1951)
  • "The Honeymoon Must Wait" (McCall's, January 1953)
  • "Widow’s Mite" (Cosmopolitan, January 1953)
  • "Only Once a Bride" (McCall's, June 1953)
  • "John Says" (Redbook, January 1954)
  • "And No One Answered" (McCall's, July 1955)
  • "Since You Went Away" (Britannia and Eve, September 1955)
  • "Let the Bell Ring" (McCall's, January 1959)
  • "Portrait of Elizabeth" (Good Housekeeping, October 1959)
  • "The End of Innocence (Lie)" (Good Housekeeping, October 1967)

SerialsEdit

  • "The Cynthia Legend" " (McCall's, Part I, September 1952; Part II, October 1952)
  • "House of Terror" (Saturday Evening Post, Part 1, Jan 16, 1954; Part 2, Jan 23, 1954; Part 3, Jan 30, 1954)

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b Center, Literary. "Remembering Ann Head: Beaufort's Forgotten Author". Pat Conroy Literary Center. Retrieved 2019-07-17.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Lauderdale, David (October 24, 2015). "Lauderdale: Meet Pat Conroy's 'first novelist'". The Island Packet and The Beaufort Gazette. Bluffton, South Carolina. Retrieved 2018-12-06.
  3. ^ a b c Breed, Allen G. (18 November 2000). "Pat Conroy. At mid-life, novelist tries to write his own happy ending". The Evening Sun. Hanover, Pennsylvania. p. C5. Retrieved 22 August 2019.
  4. ^ "Beaufort Gazette". South Carolina Encyclopedia. Retrieved 2018-12-06.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g "Auto Accident Wounds Fatal To Christensen". The Greenville News. Greenville, South Carolina. 20 August 1939. p. 8C. Retrieved 18 August 2019.
  6. ^ a b "Miss Stratton Weds Senator". The Boston Globe. Boston, Massachusetts. 4 December 1912. p. 11. Retrieved 18 August 2019.
  7. ^ "Historic African-American school honored with marker". thestate. Retrieved 2018-12-06.
  8. ^ Johnson, Kristina Dunn (2009). No Holier Spot of Ground: Confederate Monuments & Cemeteries of South Carolina. Arcadia Publishing. ISBN 9781614232827. Retrieved 31 August 2019.
  9. ^ "Christensen Family Papers" (PDF). ManuscriptsCollections, South Caroliniana Library, University of South Carolina. p. 21. Retrieved 31 August 2019. Anne Wales Christensen (Head) - 424. Wedding Announcement (Howard Head), 1939
  10. ^ a b c d e f g Ellis, Frances (17 September 1961). "Always In August Has S.C. Setting". Florence Morning News. Florence, South Carolina. p. 4B. Retrieved 18 August 2019.
  11. ^ a b "Cosmopolitan". Tide: 39. January 4, 1946. Retrieved 31 August 2019.
  12. ^ a b "Cosmopolitan". Printers' Ink. Decker Communications, Incorporated. 217: 14. 1946. Retrieved 31 August 2019.
  13. ^ a b c d Trabing, Wally (14 April 1957). "Book Reviews: Fair With Rain, By Ann Head". Santa Cruz Sentinel. Santa Cruz, California. p. 16. Retrieved 18 August 2019.
  14. ^ a b c Alexander, Charles (13 April 1957). "Hands, Mind & Hearts All Busy: She's Happy So". Albany Democrat-Herald. Albany, Oregon. p. 7. Retrieved 18 August 2019.
  15. ^ a b c Goodwin, Van (4 August 1957). "November Day On Blair Farm In Carolina". Fort Lauderdale News. Fort Lauderdale, Florida. p. 68. Retrieved 18 August 2019.
  16. ^ Babcock, Frederic (14 April 1957). "Among the Authors". Chicago Tribune. Chicago, Illinois. p. 4-8. Retrieved 1 September 2019.
  17. ^ a b Francis, Gen (14 April 1957). "Breezy, Fast-Paced Family Story Should Be Rewarding to Mothers". The Times. Shreveport, Louisiana. p. 4F. Retrieved 18 August 2019.
  18. ^ a b Baxter, Maxine (21 April 1957). "Some of the Recent Fiction. Fair With Rain By Ann Head". The Cincinnati Enquirer. Cincinnati, Ohio. p. 32. Retrieved 18 August 2019.
  19. ^ a b Blair, David (14 April 1957). "Likeable Princetonian In Pleasant, Light Novel". Chicago Tribune. Chicago, Illinois. p. 8, Pt 4. Retrieved 18 August 2019.
  20. ^ a b c d e Street, Edmond (1 October 1961). "Strong book does without usual raw sex". The Birmingham News. Birmingham, Alabama. p. E6. Retrieved 20 August 2019.
  21. ^ a b c d Hall, Barbara Hodge (1 October 1961). "Violence Comes Home. Bad Things Happen 'Always In August'". The Anniston Star. Anniston, Alabama. p. 10B. Retrieved 20 August 2019.
  22. ^ a b c d Waller, Ruth (14 October 1961). "'Always In August'". The Montgomery Advertiser. Montgomery, Alabama. p. 4. Retrieved 20 August 2019.
  23. ^ a b Mendy, Paul (24 December 1961). "This Plot You Know Already". Quad-City Times. p. 11D. Retrieved 20 August 2019.
  24. ^ a b "Suspense Novel Set in the South". Sioux CIty Journal. Sioux City, Iowa. 11 March 1962. p. C4. Retrieved 22 August 2019.
  25. ^ a b Donat, Pat (17 November 1961). "Absorbing Suspense In Novel Of South". Northwest Arkansas Times. Fayetteville, Arkansas. p. 14. Retrieved 20 August 2019.
  26. ^ a b Mahan, Bill (14 November 1971). "Bo Jo Jones' bumpy past". Independent Press-Telegram. Long Beach, California. p. 6, Tele-Vues. Retrieved 22 August 2019.
  27. ^ Gillis, Bryan; Simpson, Joanna (2015). Sexual Content in Young Adult Literature: Reading between the Sheets. Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 42–44. ISBN 9781442246881. Retrieved 31 August 2019.
  28. ^ Sherman, Tamar Asedo (2 November 1974). "What do these books have in common? They're the books on THOSE lists". The Ithaca Journal. Ithaca, New York. pp. 1-2 Leisure. Retrieved 22 August 2019.
  29. ^ Offenburger, Chuck (15 March 1974). "Red Oak Minister Seeks Removal of Library Books". The Des Moines Register. Des Moines, Iowa. p. 24. Retrieved 22 August 2019.
  30. ^ "Pat Conroy: Beaufort native, novelist Ann Head introduced him to the greats". islandpacket. Retrieved 2018-12-06.
  31. ^ Johnson, C.W. (14 April 1957). "Like Visiting Old Friends". Springfield Leader and Press. Springfield, Missouri. p. B5. Retrieved 18 August 2019.
  32. ^ Ahlers, Margaret Ann (18 May 1957). "Lively Tale Of Family Entertains". The Journal Herald. Dayton, Ohio. p. 29. Retrieved 18 August 2019.
  33. ^ Babb, Stanley E. (14 January 1962). "'Always In August' - Ann Head's Tale Of An Old Southern Mansion". The Galveston Daily News. Galveston, Texas. p. 7C. Retrieved 20 August 2019.
  34. ^ Bonner, Ruth Hard (15 May 1963). "Books In Town". The Brattleboro Reformer. Brattleboro, Vermont. p. 4. Retrieved 22 August 2019.
  35. ^ Thurber, Mary (26 May 1963). "Whodunit Corner". The Press Democrat. Santa Rosa, California. p. 5E. Retrieved 22 August 2019.
  36. ^ Mort, Vivian (26 May 1963). "Crime on My Hands". Chicago Tribune. Chicago, Illinois. p. 5, Magazine of Books. Retrieved 22 August 2019.
  37. ^ Oliver, Marguerite (9 June 1963). "Pattern Leads To Real Killer". Springfield Leader and Press. Springfield, Missouri. p. B5. Retrieved 22 August 2019.
  38. ^ B.H.H. (14 May 1967). "Youngsters Find Love In Tragedy". The Anniston Star. Anniston, Alabama. p. 10C. Retrieved 22 August 2019.
  39. ^ B.W. (14 May 1967). "Family Life Painfully True". San Antonio Express. San Antonio, Texas. p. 4H. Retrieved 22 August 2019.
  40. ^ Noyes, Virginia M. (18 June 1967). "Other Books Briefly". Chicago Tribune. Chicago, Illinois. p. 14, Books Today. Retrieved 22 August 2019.
  41. ^ Howe, Marjorie (10 August 1967). "New Books. Teen-Agers' Problem". The Burlington Free Press. Burlington, Vermont. p. 15. Retrieved 22 August 2019.
  42. ^ Bickham, Jack M. (9 July 1967). "Worth Reading. Mr. and Mrs. Bo Jo Jones, by Ann Head". The Daily Oklahoman. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. p. 20. Retrieved 22 August 2019.
  43. ^ Gay, Alison (5 December 1967). "Teen Review. Problems Of Forced Marriage Told". The Capital. Annapolis, Maryland. p. 11. Retrieved 22 August 2019.