Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Adventures in Solitude by David Grayson

Books by David Grayson
pseudonym of
Ray Stannard Baker

Ray Stannard Baker was an American author and crusading journalist who was born in Michigan in 1870. He, along with Lincoln Steffens and Ida Tarbell, wrote for the muckraking magazine, McClure's, and then the three of them, according to Wikipedia, went on to establish The American Magazine in 1906. He won a Pulitzer Prize for his biography of President Woodrow Wilson in 1940.  Stannard died in Massachusetts in 1946.

I came to know Stannard through a series of books he wrote under the pen name of David Grayson. The first book I found many years ago and is entitled Adventures in Solitude (1932). In a series of essays he reflects how he spent time during his long confinement in hospital. He muses on the starlings chattering outside his window, the joys of receiving long, rambling letters, and the philosophies of Marcus Aurelius and Epictetus (as he eventually had much time for reading). 

He writes:
After a time the Tyrant of that place (he refers here to the head nurse at the hospital) decreed that I might have Books - not too many, I was warned, but Books. I think I had never been so long before in my life without a book or books within reach of my outstretched hand. I am one of those who loves to carry a little book in his pocket, and there is always a book or so on the stand at the head of my bed at night, or by the couch where I so easily sit down to read by day. It was a great moment for me, then, when I could look forward to having a favourite book in my hand.

This is such a simple, quiet book that when I came across a second by him, Adventures in Friendship (1910), I snapped it up. Here, Grayson (or Stannard) explores the kindnesses and quirks of his rural neighbors. And in a third, Adventures in Contentment (1907), he regales the reader with tales of his life on his farm.

I love books like this. Reflections on life in an earlier time. Grayson has a lovely, easy style. He covers so many personalities, possibilities, and practices in such a gentle manner that I am happy to be swept away to an era so unlike our own.


  1. I love books like this, too. They are so soothing to read, something I seem to need given the pace of 21st century life! (This is my first visit to your site, thanks to Danielle's Lost in the Stacks post, and I'm enjoying it very much.)

    1. Welcome Kathy. Thanks for dropping by. The Grayson books are so, like you say, soothing to read. I feel my breathing slow down as I read his words. Better than meditation!

      I hope you will visit often. I post an entry everyday so there is always something new going on at Belle, Book, and Candle!