Nancy Hale Analysis

Other Literary Forms

(Literary Essentials: Short Fiction Masterpieces)

ph_0111207190-Hale.jpg Nancy Hale Published by Salem Press, Inc.

Nancy Hale’s many published books include a biography, an anthology, a series of essays on the writing of fiction, two novels for children, and six novels for adults, as well as collections of short stories and autobiographical fiction. Her novel The Prodigal Women (1942) was a great popular as well as critical success; more than two million copies had been sold when it was reissued in paperback in 1980.


(Literary Essentials: Short Fiction Masterpieces)

The receiver of both the Henry H. Bellamann Award for literature in 1969 and the Sarah Josepha Hale Award in 1974, Nancy Hale is best known for her ability to reveal the depths of the human mind in the style of an acute and objective observer. A common theme in Hale’s work is that of maturity attained when one grows out of the dreams and illusions of the past and accepts the present world willingly. This is often manifested through characters moving from one culture to another and facing a new “outer reality” and through her depictions of women in their roles as mothers, friends, and wives.


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Barron, James. “Nancy Hale, Fiction Writer.” The New York Times, September 26, 1988, p. B8. A biographical obituary sketch, with an account of Hale’s literary career and comments on her fictional treatment of the follies and foibles of well-bred women.

Callahan, Amy. “Nancy Hale.” The Boston Globe, September 27, 1988, p. 59. A brief biographical obituary that traces Hale’s literary career and comments on her proper Bostonian characters in her humorous novels and short stories.

Gray, James. “Dream of Unfair Women.” In On Second Thought, edited by James Gray. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1946. Gray writes on two of Hale’s novels, The Prodigal Women and Between the Dark and the Daylight, and several of her short stories, drawing the conclusion that Hale “writes her own stuff and writes exceedingly well.”

The New Republic. Review of Between the Dark and the Daylight. 109 (July 12, 1943): 51. Finds twenty of the twenty-one stories in this collection praiseworthy and admires Hale’s neutral treatment of the intense conflict between characters in her stories.

Van Gelder, Robert. “An Analysis of the Feminine.” In Writers and Writing. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1946. This interview with Hale focuses on her depiction of women and their relationships with men in her novel The Prodigal Women. She reveals that many of her character studies are revelations of herself; much of this work is autobiographical.

Walton, Edith H. Review of The Earliest Dreams. The New York Times, April 19, 1936, 7. In this review of a collection of stories in The Earliest Dreams, the writer does not commit herself to complete admiration of Hale’s work. Instead, she points out some of the more “shallow” stories while balancing that with praise for many of her fine, perceptive works in the collection. The review is favorable overall.

Welty, Eudora. Review of Between the Dark and the Daylight. The New York Times, May 2, 1943, 8. In this review, Welty is impressed with the scope of subjects that Hale’s twenty-one stories cover as well as with the sustained “good writing” in them.