It’s a double post today in our “Everything You Always Wanted To Know About” and “Literary Mansfield” series — today looking at a work of fiction authored by a well-known Richland Countian.
What it was: The Green Bay Tree is the first novel written and published by author Louis Bromfield
When published: 1924
Age of Bromfield on publication: 28
Tetralogy: The Green Bay Tree was the first work in a planned tetralogy by Bromfield. A tetraology is a group of four related literary works, tied together by common subject matter, characters, or other literary device. The others were Possession (1924); Early Autumn (1926 – Bromfield received a Pulizer Prize this work); and A Good Woman (1927)
Plot: The Green Bay Tree focuses on the lives of three strong woman and the community in which they live, the residents of which are fascinated, preoccupied, and even obsessed with them.
First line: The very first line of Bromfield’s first novel reads, “If you can picture a little park, bright for the moment with the flush of early summer flowers and peopled with men and women in the costumes of the late nineties — If you can picture such a park sat down in the midst of an inferno of fire, steel, and smoke, there is no need to describe Cypress Hill on the afternoon of the garden party for the Governor.”
Connection to Mansfield: Bromfield, who was born and raised in Mansfield until the age of 19, based the primary setting for The Green Bay Tree, “Shane’s Castle,” on Mansfield’s Oak Hill Cottage.
Next Step in Bromfield’s Career: The very next year, 1925, saw Louis Bromfield move to Paris, where he made the acquaintance of and socialized with Ernest Hemingway and Gertrude Stein.
Number of Copies Sold: Almost 700,000
Play: The success of the book spurred Bromfield to transform the story into a three-act play called “The House of Women.” The play was launched in 1927 at the Maxine Elliott’s Theatre on Broadway and ran for only 40 performances.
Public Domain: The Green Bay Tree was the first of Bromfield’s works to enter the public domain, doing so in 2020.
Sources: Wikipedia, The Ohio State University, The Green Bay Tree, Oak Hill Cottage