Lover of the Fancy

Early C20th American culture and dissent

Gene Stratton-Porter


In this companion book to the much-loved classic A Girl of the Limberlost (it is, in fact, its prequel), an orphaned teenager longs to find his place in the world. Freckles was discovered on the doorstep of a Chicago orphanage, badly beaten and missing a hand. He yearns for the fulfillment of useful work, and at Indiana’s Limberlost Swamp, his grit and determination win him the difficult, dangerous job of guarding a valuable stand of timber. Faithful and brave in his daily tasks, Freckles comes to appreciate the beauty and majesty of the natural world amid the wetlands’ sights, sounds, and silences. As nature works miracles in the boy’s lonely, starved heart, Freckles meets a kind and gentle girl who collects specimens for a wildlife photographer. Despite his growing love for his Swamp Angel, Freckles feels himself far below her station – until the opportunity arises for him to prove his true worth.

Paperback, 368pp
Dover Publications, 2017 (1904)
ISBN 9780486814308


GENE STRATTON-PORTER (1863-1924) was an American author, photographer, and naturalist. Born in Indiana, she was raised in a family of eleven children. In 1874, she moved with her parents to Wabash, Indiana, where her mother would die in 1875. When she wasn’t studying literature, music, and art at school and with tutors, Stratton-Porter developed her interest in nature by spending much of her time outdoors. In 1885, after a year-long courtship, she became engaged to druggist Charles Dorwin Porter, with whom she would have a daughter. She soon grew tired of traditional family life, however, and dedicated herself to writing by 1895. At their cabin in Indiana, she conducted lengthy studies of the natural world, focusing on birds and ecology. She published her stories, essays, and photographs in OutingMetropolitan, and Good Housekeeping before embarking on a career as a novelist. Freckles (1904) and A Girl of the Limberlost (1909) were both immediate bestsellers, entertaining countless readers with their stories of youth, romance, and survival. Much of her works, fiction and nonfiction, are set in Indiana’s Limberlost Swamp, a vital wetland connected to the Wabash River. As the twentieth century progressed, the swamp was drained and cultivated as farmland, making Stratton-Porter’s depictions a vital resource for remembering and celebrating the region. Over the past several decades, however, thousands of acres of the wetland have been restored, marking the return of countless species to the Limberlost, which for Stratton-Porter was always “a word with which to conjure; a spot wherein to revel.”