There was a time when Faith Baldwin books lined the supermarket checkout counters along with Daphne du Maurier, Anya Seton, Susan Howatch, Barbara Cartland, Jean Plaidy/Philippa Carr and so on. Now she would be compared to Nora Roberts. Searching for Baldwin’s book, all we could find was her first Mavis of Green Hills and that as a free Kindle, so I took it, if only to read some of what she wrote. Overall, she wrote 85 novels, but as one can tell from the New Yorker review attached, they were contemporary vehicles and got the derisive epithet of “light fiction.”
The format was simple and formulaic. No matter what the difficulties are, how seedy the hero seems, honour and goodness triumph, and the hero and heroine are united in happiness. Evil, depravity, poverty, and sex found no place in her work, which she wrote for the housewife and working girl. Their popularity of her writing was enormous. In 1936, in the midst of the Great Depression, she published five novels in a magazine serial form and three earlier serials in volume form and saw four of her works made into motion pictures, for an income that year in excess of $315,000. Adjusted for 2018 that is about a cool 6 million USD.
Baldwin wrote innumerable stories, articles, and newspaper columns. Despite her protestions to the contrary, she seemed to have a real flair for authorship. She died on March 18, 1978 in the affluent bedroom community of Norwalk, Connecticut. Her husband Hugh H. Cuthrell died in 1953; he was the former president of the Brooklyn Union Gas Company, now Keyspan.
Marc Jones in his Jones 1000, has Miss Baldwin’s nativity listed at the wrong time — 8 am and a 03 Scorpio Rising. It changes the whole focus of her writing, from light and enjoyable to something dark and sexual, so we rectified that to 29 Virgo, a “woman gaining secret knowledge, ‘ thereby also changing her emphasis from Fixed (idea oriented) to Mutable (people).
This ascendant also depicts the possibilities of great experience that lie waiting to blossom underneath and how her discovery into her personal imagination gave greater awareness to others. The change also makes her ascendant partile to her Mars, a strong placement for a writer because it links their love of writing to its very act of creation — the physicality of putting their thoughts, emotions and imagination on paper. Now her Moon is in a good aspect [trine] to her Mercury, bequeathing a strong imagination but alas with Venus semisquare Mars tells us that despite her talent, her poor taste will stop her from every being more than an ephemeral (line of Culture absent) fad.
The real question is whether she is a deviated bowl, or a see-saw temperament type. Read Marc Jones’s Counseling Manual and discover. It’s worth it.
An Abbreviated bio
Miss Baldwin attended the Brooklyn Heights Academy and finishing schools in Brooklyn and Briarcliff Manor, N. Y. In 1914, she went to Dresden, Germany, where she lived for two years with one of her mother’s closest friends. “Life didn’t change for us because of the war,” she recalled. “I was sent to cooking school and learned German, but we continued to go to the opera.”
In 1916 she returned home and when the United States entered the war, she worked for the War Camp Community Service. In the winter of 1919 she met Hugh H. Cuthrell, a Navy pilot who later became president and chairman of the board of the Brooklyn Union Gas Company. They were married in Brooklyn the next winter when she was 27 years old. They had four children, including Hugh Jr., who was killed in a car accident in 1960.
Miss Baldwin’s first novel was published in 1921. In 1927 he sold her first serial, to Good Housekeeping, and she realized that her efforts had paid off.. Afterward she sold the serialization rights to her books for as much as $55,000 (1 million dollars in 2018 dollars).
In one year, 1936, she wrote five novels for serialization in Cosmopolitan and The Ladies’ Home Journal. She published three novels, written and serialized the year before, and Hollywood made movies from four others, featuring stars like Henry Fonda, Jean Harlow and Clark Gable, all the top billings at the time. In addition, she wrote columns for various New York newspapers and was invited almost daily to give speeches and interviews.