Thomas Allibone Janvier (1849-1913) was an American story-writer and historian, born in Philadelphia of Provençal descent. His father was Philadelphia businessman and poet Francis De Haes Janvier. He received a public school education, then worked in Philadelphia for newspapers from 1870-81. In 1878 he married Catharine Ann Drinker (1841-1922), an artist who was the first woman teacher at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and first teacher to Cecilia Beaux. Later in life, she accompanied her husband on his travels while writing books and translating books from the Provencale language. Many of Janvier's published works would be dedicated "To C. A. J." Janvier spent several years in Colorado, and in New and old Mexico, thereby gaining inspiration and material for much of his literary work. From 1884-94, he lived in the Washington Square district of New York, which would inspire his works about old New York. He also lived for three years in Provence, and for another three in England. In France, he became a warm friend of Mistral and was made an honorary member of the Félibrige society.
Janvier's sister, Margaret Thomson Janvier (1844-1913), was born in New Orleans. Under the pen name Margaret Vandergrift she wrote many juveniles, among which are: The Absent-Minded Fairy, and Other Verses (1884); The Dead Doll, and Other Verses (1900); Under the Dog-Star (1900); and Umbrellas to Mend (1905).
This article incorporates text from an edition of the New International Encyclopedia that is in the public domain.
In the Sargasso Sea
In the Sargasso Sea is a children's novel (1898) and is a unique blend of adventure story and a hybrid of Robinson Crusoe and Treasure Island themes. While excellent children's literature, it is extraordinarily hard to find. Recently, Kessinger Publishing's Rare Reprints has re-issued this forgotten treasure. Janvier's writing shows a weakness in character dialogue but has a tremendous narrative skill and imagery usage. The protagonist, Roger Stetworth, naïvely signs aboard a slaver the "Golden Hind" captained by Luke Chilton. When Chilton demands that Roger "sign aboard" he refuses and is clubbed on the head and thrown overboard. He is rescued by the "Hurst Castle" and doctored by a painfully stereotyped Irishman. The "Hurst Castle" is abandoned but does not flounder in a gale and the crew accidentally leave Stetworth marooned aboard. The ship drifts into the center of the Sargasso Sea where Stetworth finds himself in a ships' graveyard. The power of Janiver's work shines through here as he uses stunning images of abandoned and deserted hulks, desperate and violent survivors of previous shipwrecks that still inhabit the forgotten ships. Most vivid is his discovery of an old slave galley. Stetworth must rely on his own ingenuity to get free from the choking sargasso weeds.