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Jane Flory (1917–2005)

Author of The Great Bamboozlement

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Jane Trescott Flory was born Jane Trescott in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania on June 29, 1917, to Leroy Charles and Hazel Trescott. Educated at the Philadelphia Museum School of Industrial Art (now Philadelphia College of Art), Flory received her college degree in 1939. She began working as a free-lance writer and illustrator of children’s books soon after college, and married artist and college instructor Arthur Leroy Flory on September 29, 1941. Together they had three children: Cynthia Jane, Christine Kate, and Erika Susan. After the death of her husband in 1972, Flory continued her passion for writing and illustrating.

Flory’s first children’s book, Snooty, the Pig Who Was Proud, was published in 1944 by Whitman Publishing. Flory continued to publish books through Whitman and other publishing companies until 1960, when she signed with Houghton Mifflin Publishing. While with Houghton, Flory wrote and illustrated 15 books, each received well by critics. The School Library Journal called Far Away Dream, published in 1968, “A warm and understanding story.” The Liberation of Clementine Tipton is “a delightful story of a ten-year-old tomboy whose father is on the Central Committee… the reader gets a vivid picture of the celebration in Philadelphia in 1876” according to the Philadelphia Bulletin.

Most of Flory’s work is inspired by her time spent in Philadelphia. She began writing It Was a Pretty Good Year (published in 1979) after hearing a childhood friend tell stories about growing up on Reed Street in Philadelphia. Although he found his childhood to be boring and bland, Flory integrated humor and atmosphere into the story, and according to the editor of It Was a Pretty Good Year, captured the “tempo of an early American city – the sights, the smells and the feelings of people freshly immigrated to this new land of opportunity.”

In 1980, Flory remarried Barnett R. Freedman, but kept the name of her first husband. Flory’s last book, The Great Bamboozlement, was published in 1982 by Houghton Press. From the Boston Globe, this story is “a lighthearted, engaging story of a frontier family that sorts out its problems with humor, patience, and love.” Flory worked at the Philadelphia College of Art in Philadelphia as the director of evening division from 1958-1974, all while writing and illustrating. In her last years, she gave writing and illustrating in favor of quilting at her home in Queen Village. She died from Alzheimer’s Disease on December 2, 2005 at Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia.
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