“I was to meet Gene Stratton-Porter and I was scared to death,” wrote young nature
writer Emma Lindsay-Squier in 1922. Both women were native Hoosiers and living in
California. According to Emma, “A New York editor had asked her to give me some
advice concerning nature stories.” At the time of this meeting, Emma was a journalist for
the Los Angeles Times and wrote a society coumn under her own byline.
Emma was born to Russell and Ada Squier in Marion Indiana in 1892. When she was a
young woman, she read Gene’s books about the Limberlost and to Emma, Gene was “a
wielder of high magic, a maker of big medicine.” Emma loved nature and began writing
short stories on the subject. Before she was 13, she was writing a weekly newsletter in
Terre Haute. Eventually the family moved to Salem Oregon, then Glendale California.
Gene thought it was splendid that she was writing about nature “because the [WWI]
brought people closer to nature than ever before.” Gene told her tales of the Limberlost
that Emma had not read. It was a place she loved to hunt flowers, mosses and birds. She
was happy with the “companionship of the out-of-doors.”
At this meeting, Gene gave Emma a copy of her latest book, “The Fire Bird,” and
autographed it: “For Emma Lindsay Squier from Gene Stratton-Porter. A high place in
the mountains. Great magic. Many blue shells.”
In 1922, Gene wrote an eleven page introduction for Emma’s first book “Wild Heart.”
Emma’s book came out to great reviews. “To anyone who knows the field and woods the
book carries the conviction of truth.” Nineteen years after the Gene’s first book, “Song of
the Cardinal,” came out Gene was a well respected author and naturalist. She was at a
place in her life where young authors were asking her for advice and wisdom. Gene’s
advice was to be humble and sincere in her writing. Gene told Emma, as she did her
publisher, Nelson Doubleday, she felt that her best writings were still to come.
At the close of the interview, Gene told Emma that the Limberlost “belongs to me – and –
I belong to it.” She would be forever linked to the Limberlost with her books. It was a
place that she made famous.
Emma would have a second book published that year called “On Autumn Trails.” She
would write a number of short stories and books. One of her short stories, “Glorious
Buccaneer,” was produced as a Hollywood film.
She married John Bransby, a movie producer, who also did the photography for a couple
of her books. In the 1930s, the couple moved from California to New York City. Emma
she died at Saranac Lake of tuberculosis at the age of 48. John lived until 1998 and died
at the age of 97.
Writer’s Note: Emma Lindsay Squier wrote about her meeting with Gene Stratton-Porter
for the Los Angeles Times.