Masters Theses

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Communication and Information

Major Professor

Glenn Estes

Committee Members

Eugenia Mauldin, Dorothy Ryan


The purpose of this study was (1) to present a biographical sketch of the novelist Janice Holt Giles in terms of the influences upon her writing, (2) to evaluate the Kentucky historical novels written by Mrs. Giles in light of the requirements for historical fiction, and (3) to present a survey of the reviews of those books.

The life data on the author were obtained largely through two personal interviews with her and through her two autobiographical works: 40 Acres and No Mule and A Little Better Than Plumb. The Adair County Record Books on file at the Court House in Columbia, Kentucky, were consulted to determine the time the Giles ancestors made their first settlement in south-central Kentucky. For references to other biographical information, Biography Index, Reader's Guide to Periodical Literature, Education Index, and Library Literature were searched. A scant amount of data on the author were found in Current Biography 1958, Wilson Library Bulletin, and Contemporary Authors 1962.

Certain criteria for evaluating historical fiction were specified in order to appraise the Kentucky frontier books by Mrs. Giles. The requirements of sound historical fiction: truth, graphic power, consistent character portrayal, sustained dramatic and human interest, are those cited by Helen E. Haines in her work Living with Books. Each requirement was discussed in evaluating all the books covered in this paper. Included in the discussion were details from the life influences of the author as they were thought to bear upon the novels.

In conclusion, each book met those requirements of sound historical fiction. Hannah Fowler and The Land Beyond the Mountains were the most highly praised in the survey of reviews.

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