Any photos not otherwise credited are from the personal collection of Frank Passic, Albion Historian.
Morning Star, April 3, 1991, pg. 11
A number of celebrated individuals through the years across the country had their origins here in Albion, and we will occasionally touch upon these persons in this column. This week we are featuring Helen Hull (1888-1971), an American novelist whose writings were well known by those in the literary world.
Helen was the daughter of Warren C. and Louise (McGill) Hull. Her father Warren was superintendent of the Albion Public Schools from 1887 to 1898, and Helen was born in the family home at 306 S. Ingham Street. Writing was in the family blood, as her grandfather Hull was editor and owner of the Advertiser-Mercury in Constantine, Michigan, and Helen often spent her childhood summers visiting her grandfather there.
The family moved to Flint in 1898 where Warren C. Hull became superintendent of the public schools there. Helen later lived in Lansing, where her father retired, and attended both Michigan State University and the University of Michigan. She graduated from the University of Chicago in 1912. Helen served as professor of English at Columbia University from 1916 to 1956. She wrote 21 novels and over 60 short stories during her lifetime, some of which were published in the Saturday Evening Post, and other periodicals. She also served as editor of "The Writers Book" published by the Authors Guild in 1950, and served as president of that Society for many years.
Many of Helenís stories had a Michigan setting, particularly with Albion or Constantine in mind, where she had spent her youth. She was honored at a special reception in November 1939 here in Albion at the Parker Inn, with Julia McCune of the Albion College faculty serving as hostess.
Some of her novels included: "A Circle in the Water (1943)," The Asking Price (1930)," Through the House Door (1940)," and "A Tapping on the Wall (1960)." The latter piece earned Helen the Dodd-Mead award ($3,000) for the best mystery or suspense novel written by a professor. She also received a Guggenheim Fellowship award in 1930 to travel and study abroad, and the Book-of-the-Month Club chose her novel "Heat Lightning" as one of its selections in 1932.
From our Historical Notebook this week we present a photograph of Helen Hull and her mother Louise, taken in June, 1890 here in Albion, when Helen was only two years old. This comes from a photograph album of Albion Public School teachers and officials from the early 1890s. The second photograph of Helen Hull was taken in 1943, during the time she was promoting her novel "A Circle in the Water."
Helen and Louise Hull
All text copyright, 2021 © all rights reserved Frank Passic