View Full Version : The Story Behind the Story

05-15-2007, 03:50 PM
I just found a book at my library that is quite a little gem. It is an old book (copywright 1949), long out of print called:

The Story Behind Modern Books by Elizabeth Rider Montgomery

It tells the "story behind the story", how the authors arrived at their ideas for their books and many other very interesting details about their conception, creation and fruition for a large list of books including Make Way for Ducklings, Andy and the Lion, Story of Babar and the Story of Ping.

For instance, did you know that the seed for Story of Ping was planted because many people complained that the ducks in her illustrations for the book Angus and the Ducks weren't really ducks but geese? A chance encounter with a fellow writer, a special request from her publisher and a missed subway train are all detailed, leading to the book the Story of Ping. It is fascinating.

The back story for Andy and the Lion is just as amazing. I immediately wanted to pick it up and reread it after I found out that the text and illustrations were completed in a half an hour's work each. James Daugherty and his wife's love of theater lead to a discussion of all the wonderful plays they had seen. Their enjoyment of the Bernard Shaw's play Androcles and the Lion in particular was the spark that lead to the book.

Knowing these back stories really bring the author to life and a new appreciation for the wonderful books they created.

There are many other classic books "stories" in this book (38 in all) including Mr. Popper's Penquins, The Little House, Johnny Tremain, Caddie Woodlawn, Hitty: Her First Hundred Years, Five Chinese Brothers, Paddle-to-the-sea.

I would also mention that this author penned several other books like this. I can't find what books are discussed in the other books though. I am going to try and interlibrary loan them and see what they reveal. The other books listed in the front of this book are:

The Story Behind Great Books
The Story Behind Great Stories
The Story Behind Great Medical Discoveries
The Story Behind Great Inventions

I wish I could just copy this book and send it to everyone who is intersted but... I did check some used book sites, like www.abesbooks.com and they had copies available for $3-10 range.


05-15-2007, 04:05 PM
How intresting! Thanks for sharing. I am going to see if my library has this book

05-15-2007, 04:20 PM
Yes, thank you for posting this. I'll be looking for it too.

05-18-2007, 09:18 AM
Yesterday I got the book The Story Behind Great Stories and the only additional FIAR it tells the back story on is The Tale of Peter Rabbit.

I also checked out the Great Inventions one but haven't had a chance to peruse it yet!