Abbie Farwell Brown was born in Boston, Massachusetts in August of 1871. She was one of two daughters born to Benjamin F. Brown and Clara Neal Brown. Her mother was a contributor to The Youth’s Companion and Brown’s sister went on to become an author and illustrator who wrote under the name Ann Underhill.
Early Life and Education
Abbie Farwell Brown attended Bowdoin School and graduated in 1886 as valedictorian. She went on to attend Girls’ Latin School, a public exam school, in Boston. It provided Brown with a classical education and while there she helped to establish the school’s newspaper, which she chose to name, The Jabberwock. The institution still publishes the newspaper today. These years also saw Brown contribute work to St. Nicholas Magazine. Brown graduated in 1891 and then attended Radcliffe College until she graduated in 1894.
In 1896 Brown began writing under the name Jean Neal. She sent articles to St. Louis Globe-Democrat and is also known to have written a comedy, Quits, in 1896. Her first book was published in 1900. It was titled The Book of Saints and Friendly Beasts, and was aimed at a young audience. The book was inspired by a trip she took to Chester Cathedral in England in 1899. The work contained stories of saints and animals inspired by the moral tenants of Christianity. It was this initial publication that led to her later career as a children’s book author.
Her next book came out in 1901 and was titled The Lonesomest Doll. Due to its success her publishers, Hall and Locke, hired her as an editor of the Young Folks Library series. Brown’s next work was In the Days of Giants. It contained stories from Norse mythology. She continued in this genre and published Tales of the Red Children in 1909.
Brown also wrote books of poetry for children and adults. The volumes for children included, A Pocketful of Posies and Fresh Posies, in 1901 and 1908 respectively. Her works for adults were less successful and included the volumes, The Silver Stair and Heart of New England.
Abbie Farwell Brown also wrote song lyrics, including the song that became the official song of the Girls Scouts of the USA. Until her death Brown was active in New England society.
Brown died at the age of 55 in March of 1927.