Neltje Blanchan

Neltje Blanchan De Graff Doubleday (October 23, 1865 – February 21, 1918) was a United States scientific historian and nature writer who published several books on wildflowers and birds under the pen name Neltje Blanchan.[1] Her work is known for its synthesis of scientific interest with poetic phrasing.

Photograph of frontispiece of book


Early life and educationEdit

Neltje Blanchan De Graff was born in Chicago to Liverius De Graff, a proprietor of a men's clothing store, and his wife Alice Fair. She was educated at St. John's Preparatory School in New York City and The Masters School in Dobbs Ferry, New York.[2]

Neltje married Frank Nelson Doubleday in Plainfield, New Jersey on June 9, 1886. They had two sons and one daughter: Felix Doty (adopted), Nelson (1889–1949) and Dorothy. They had homes in both New York City and Oyster Bay.

Writing careerEdit

Neltje Doubleday published eleven books under her pen name of Neltje Blanchan. Her works on wildflowers and birds were notable for their combination of scientific facts with poetic expression.

Community serviceEdit

Neltje Doubleday entertained regularly and participated in philanthropic work for the American Red Cross.[1]

In 1917, she visited the Philippines and China on special assignment as a commissioner for the Red Cross. She died suddenly in Canton, China on February 21, 1918 at age 52.[1]

Legacy and honorsEdit

  • Some of her papers (1914–1918) are held in the Frank N. Doubleday and Nelson Doubleday Collection at the Princeton University Library.
  • The Wyoming Arts Council established the Neltje Blanchan Literary Award (now called the Blanchan/Doubleday Writing Award), which is given annually to "a writer whose work, in any genre, is inspired by nature." The award was funded in Blanchan's memory by her granddaughter, Neltje Doubleday Kings, an abstract artist who served on the board of the council from 1985 to 1988. In 2010 Neltje Kings made an estate gift to the University of Wyoming, including her land, ranch and studio buildings, art collections, which is the largest in the history of the university. When realized, it will become the UW Neltje Center for the Visual and Literary Arts.[3]

Nellie's grandson Nelson Doubleday Jr. was president of the Doubleday publishing company from 1978 to 1986, when he sold it to the Bertelsmann group from Germany. He purchased the New York Mets in 1986 and was chairman of its board that year when it won the World Series title. In 2002 he sold his half share in the team.

Published worksEdit

  • The Piegan Indians (1892)
  • Bird Neighbors (1897)
  • Nature's Garden (1900), republished as Wild Flowers: An Aid to Knowledge of our Wild Flowers and their Insect Visitors (1901)
  • "What the Basket Means to the Indian", a chapter in Mary White's How To Make Baskets (1901)
  • How to Attract the Birds (1902)
  • Birds that Hunt and Are Hunted (1905)[4]
  • Birds Every Child Should Know (1907)
  • The American Flower Garden (1909)
  • Birds Worth Knowing (1917)
  • Canadian Birds Worth Knowing (1917)
  • Wild Flowers Worth Knowing (adapted from Nature's Garden by Asa Don Dickenson, 1917, 1922)
  • Birds: Selected from the Writings of Neltje Blanchan (posthumously, 1930)

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c Sterling, Kier (1997). Women in the Biological Sciences: A Biobibliographic Sourcebook. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press. ISBN 0-313-29180-2.
  2. ^ Patterson, Daniel; Roger Thompson (2007). Early American Nature Writers: A Biographical Encyclopedia. Greenwood. p. 62. ISBN 978-0-313-34680-4.
  3. ^ "Gift will create powerhouse arts center" (PDF), UWYO, Fall 2010[permanent dead link]
  4. ^ Birds that Hunt and Are Hunted (pdf). New York: Doubleday & McClure Co. 1898. p. 359.

External linksEdit

  Media related to Neltje Blanchan at Wikimedia Commons