by George J. Dance


Arthur Stringer (1874-1950) in Canadian Singers and their Songs, 1919. Courtesy Internet Archive.

Arthur Stringer
Born February 26, 1874
Chatham, Ontario
Died September 13, 1950 (aged 76)
Mountain Lakes, New Jersey
Occupation novelist, screenwriter
Language English
Nationality Canada Canadian
Alma mater U of Toronto, Oxford U
Notable work(s) Prairie Wife, Prairie Mother, Prairie Child, Open Water
Spouse(s) Jobyna Howland, Margaret Arbuthnott
Children Arthur, Hugh, Robert

Arthur John Arbuthnott Stringer (February 26, 1874 - September 13, 1950) was a Canadian poet, novelist, and screenwriter who later moved to the United States.[1] He published 45 works of fiction and 15 other books, in addition to writing numerous filmscripts and articles.[2]


Stringer was born in Chatham, Ontario,[2] the son of Sarah Mary (Delmage) and Hugh Stringer.[3] "He was a high spirited boy who spent his childhood days fishing, swimming, raiding orchards and manning a pirate ship."[4]

In 1884 the family moved to London, Ontario, where Charles attended London Collegiate Institute.[2] At the Institute he founded and edited a school magazine called Chips.[4]

He then attended University College, University of Toronto, from 1892 to 1894 and later studied at Oxford University.[1]

His debut collection of poetry, Watchers of Twilight, and other poems, was published in 1894.[4]

In 1895 he worked for the Montreal Herald. At this time he was also publishing in Saturday Night and the Canadian Magazine. In 1898 he got a job with the American Press Association,[4] moved to New York City, and was soon publishing in The Atlantic and Harper's.[2] His earliest poem in Harper's, "Remorse," appeared in February 1899.[5]

His debut novel, The Silver Poppy, came out in 1903.[2] In the same year he bought a farm on the shore of Lake Erie. and married actress Jobyna Howland, known as the original Gibson girl.[6]

Stringer and Howland divorced in 1914, and Stringer married his cousin, Margaret Arbuthnott.[2] They had 3 sons: Arthur John Arbuthnott Stringer (John), Hugh Arbuthnott Stringer (Barney), and Robert Arbuthnott Stringer.[3] Margaret Arbuthnott would anonymously author the book, Confessions of an Author's Wife (Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1927).[7]

Stringer was most popular in his day for his crime fiction and his wilderness adventures, but he wrote in many genres, from social realism (his "Prairie" trilogy, 1915-1921) to psychological fiction (The Wine of Life (1921).[8] He even wrote early science fiction novels, The Story Without a Name (1924) with Russell Holman, and The Woman Who Couldn't Die (1929).[9]

Much of his writing was for films. Filmscripts he worked on include The Perils Of Pauline (1914), The Hand Of Peril (1916), The House Of Intrigue (1919), "Unseeing Eyes" (1923), "Empty Hands" (1924), The Canadian (1926), The Purchase Price (1932), The Lady Fights Back (1937), Buck Benny Rides Again (1940), and The Iron Claw (1941).[10]

In 1921, the Stringers moved to Mountain Lakes, New Jersey, where Arthur Stringer continued to write, and where he died in 1950.[2] He is buried at Greenwood Cemetery, in Boonton, New Jersey.[11]



Stringer was popular in his day for his crime fiction and his wilderness adventures, both of which rely to a large degree on formula; "generally he worked within the conventions of sentimental romance popular around the turn of the century."[6] Contemporary critics have not been kind to his fiction. For example, Douglas Fetherling wrote of him in the Canadian Encyclopedia:

Stringer was not in any recognizable stream of Canadian writing but rather was a prolific American hack-fiction writer.... The fact that he lived most of his life in the U.S., however, did not prevent him from frequently inventing Canadian characters and sometimes ... setting them in the Far North, a region he misunderstood lavishly, thereby contributing to foreign stereotyping of Canada.[12]

Against that has to be set Stringer's prairie trilogy – Prairie Wife (1915), Prairie Mother (1920), and Prairie Child (1921) – which has been called "an enduring contribution to Canadian literature."[8] The trilogy uses a diary form to tell the tale of its narrator, "a New England socialite married to a dour Scots-Canadian wheat farmer," and "develops gradually from the optimism typical of pioneering romances, through disillusionment as her marriage deteriorates, to mature resolve as she begins an independent life on the Prairies."[6]


The Oxford Companion to Canadian Literature described Stringer's poetry as "undistinguished verse."[8] However, it has also been said that in his poetry "there is maintained a standard of beauty, depth of feeling, and technical power, which in Canada have had all too little recognition."[13] At its time his blank verse drama "Sappho in Leucadia" was called "an imaginative, passionate, artistic work of surpassing quality."[13]

Stringer's chief claim to poetic fame today rests on his 1914 book, Open Water, the earliest book by a Canadian poet to use free verse – and in particular on his preface to that book, in which he "describes the modernist movement as a natural evolution."[1] Louis Dudek and Michael Gnarowski, who reprinted the Open Water preface in their anthology The Making of Modern Poetry In Canada, remarked on it:

This book must be seen as a turning point in Canadian writing if only for the importance of the ideas advanced by Stringer in his preface. In a carefully presented, extremely well-informed account of traditional verse-making, Stringer pleaded the cause of free verse and created what must now be recognized as an early document of the struggle to free Canadian poetry from the trammels of end-rhyme, and to liberalize its methods and its substance.[14]

"Stringer's arguments become even more striking from the point of view of literary history," Dudek and Gnarowski continued, "if we recall ... that the famous notes of F.S. Flint and the strictures of Ezra Pound on imagisme and free verse had appeared less than a year before this, in the March 1913 issue of Poetry: A Magazine of Verse (Chicago)."[14]


Society, my dear, is like salt water, good to swim in but hard to swallow. – Arthur Stringer, The Silver Poppy


Stringer was awarded an honorary D.Litt. by the University of Western Ontario in 1946.[4]

He is commemorated by Arthur Stringer Public School in London, Ontario, which opened in 1969.[1]

The house in which Stringer lived as a boy in London is preserved as a historic site, Arthur Stringer House.[2]




  • The Silver Poppy: A novel. New York: D. Appleton & Co., 1903.
  • Lonely O'Malley: A story of boy life. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1905.
  • The Wire Tappers (illustrated by Arthur William Brown). Boston: Little, Brown, 1906.
  • Phantom Wires. Boston: Little, Brown, 1907.
  • The Under Groove: A novel. New York: McClure, 1908.
  • The Gun-Runner. New York: B.W. Dodge, 1909.
  • The Shadow. New York: Century, 1913.
  • The Prairie Wife Indianapolis, IN: Bobbs-Merrill, 1915.
  • The Hand of Peril: A novel of adventure. 1915.[13]
  • The Door of Dread: A Secret Service romance. Indianapolis, IN: Bobbs-Merrill, 1916.
  • The House of Intrigue. Indianapolis, IN: Bobbs-Merrill, 1918.
  • The Man Who Couldn't Sleep. Indianapolis, IN: Bobbs-Merrill, 1919.
  • The Prairie Mother. Indianapolis, IN: Bobbs-Merrill, 1920. London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1920.
  • Twin Tales: "Are All Men Alike" and "The Lost Titian". Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1921.
  • The Wine of Life. New York: Knopf, 1921.
  • Prairie Child. Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1922; London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1923.
  • The Diamond Thieves. Indianapolis, IN: Bobbs-Merrill, 1923; London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1925.
  • The City of Peril. New York: Knopf, 1923.
  • Empty Hands. Indianapolis, IN: Bobbs-Merrill, 1924.
  • Manhandled (with Russell Holman; illustrated with scenes from the photoplay). New York: Grossett & Dunlap, 1924.
  • The Story Without a Name ((with Russell Holman; illustrated with scenes from the photoplay). New York: Grossett & Dunlap, 1924.
  • Never-Fail Blake. New York: A.L. Burt, 1924.[16]
  • Power. Indianapolis, IN: Bobbs-Merrill, c.1925.
  • In Bad With Sinbad. Indianapolis, IN: Bobbs-Merrill, 1926.
  • Night Hawk. A novel New York: A.L. Burt, 1926.
  • White Hands. Indianapolis, IN: Bobbs-Merrill, 1927.
  • The Wolf Woman. Indianapolis, IN: Bobbs-Merrill, 1927.
  • Cristina and I. Indianapolis, IN: Bobbs-Merrill, 1929.
  • The Woman Who Couldn't Die. Indianapolis, IN: Bobbs-Merrill, 1929.
  • A Lady Quite Lost, Indianapolis, IN: Bobbs-Merrill, 1931.
  • The Mud Lark. Indianapolis, IN: Bobbs-Merrill, 1932.
  • Dark Soil. Indianapolis, IN: Bobbs-Merrill, 1933.
  • Marriage by Capture. Indianapolis, IN: Bobbs-Merrill, 1933.
  • Man Lost. Indianapolis, IN: Bobbs-Merrill, 1934.
  • The Wife Traders: A tale of the north. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1936.
  • Heather of the High Hand: A novel of the north. Indianapolis, IN: Bobbs-Merrill, 1937.
  • The Lamp In the Valley. Indianapolis, IN: Bobbs-Merrill, 1938.
  • The Dark Wing. Indianapolis, IN: Bobbs-Merrill, 1939.
  • The Ghost Plane: A novel of the north. Indianapolis, IN: Bobbs-Merrill, 1940.
  • A King Who Loved Old Clothes. Indianapolis, IN: Bobbs-Merrill, 1941.
  • Intruders in Eden. Indianapolis, IN: Bobbs-Merrill, 1942.
  • Shadowed Victory. Indianapolis, IN: Bobbs-Merrill, 1943. London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1944.
  • Star in a Mist. Indianapolis, IN: Bobbs-Merrill, 1943.
  • The Devastator. Indianapolis, IN: Bobbs-Merrill, 1944.


  • Epigrams. London: T.H. Warren, 1896.
  • A Study of King Lear. New York, 1897.[6]
  • "A Prefatory Memoir" in James Alexander Tucker, * Red Wine of Youth: A life of Rupert Brooke, 1921.[16]


Except where noted, information on pre-1925 fiction from American Fiction, 1901-1925.[18] Other bibliographical information courtesy Open Library.[17]


The following 22 movies were based on fiction by Arthur Stringer:[3]

  • 1912 The Man Who Made Good (short) (story)
  • 1914 The Case of Cherry Purcelle (short) (story)
  • 1916 The Secret Agent (short) (story)
  • 1916 The Breaker (story)
  • 1916 The Hand of Peril (novel The Hand of Peril: A novel of adventure)
  • 1918 From Two to Six (story "The Button Thief")
  • 1919 The House of Intrigue (novel)
  • 1920 Are All Men Alike? (story "The Waffle Iron")
  • 1923 Unseeing Eyes (story "Snowblind")
  • 1924 Manhandled (story)
  • 1924 The Story Without a Name (novel)
  • 1924 Empty Hands (story)
  • 1925 The Prairie Wife (story)
  • 1925 Womanhandled (story)
  • 1926 The Canadian (story and scenario)
  • 1926 The Wilderness Woman (scenario / story)
  • 1926 Out of the Storm (story "The Travis Coup")
  • 1928 Half a Bride (story "White Hands")
  • 1932 The Purchase Price (story "The Mud Lark")
  • 1937 The Lady Fights Back (novel Heather of the High Hand)
  • 1940 Buck Benny Rides Again (story)
  • 1941 The Iron Claw (story)

See alsoEdit


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Roger Moran, "Arthur John Arbuthnott Stringer," Canadian Encyclopedia, Historica Foundation, Web, May 8, 2011.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 "Arthur Stringer House," London Public Library, Web, May 7, 2011.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 "Arthur Stringer (1874-1950)," Internet Movie Database,, Web, May 8, 2011.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 "New York Nocturnes by Arthur Stringer," Ronald P. Frye & Co., Web, May 8, 2011.
  5. "Stringer, Arthur,", Web, May 8, 2011.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 Dick Harrison, "Arthur Stringer Biography," Encyclopedia of Literature, 8753,, Web, May 8, 2011.
  7. "Confessions of an Author's Wife,", Web, June 1, 2011.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 "Arthur Stringer", Oxford Companion to Canadian Literature,, Web, May 8, 2011.
  9. "Arthur Stringer Summary Bibliography, International Science Fiction Database,, Web, May 8, 2011.
  10. "Arthur Stringer,", Web, May 8, 2011.
  11. "Arthur Stringer" (Memorial# 7086448),, Web, June 1, 2011.
  12. D. Fetherling, "Stringer, Arthur John Arbuthnott," Canadian Encyclopedia (Edmonton: Hurtig, 1988), 2087, Print.
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 John W. Garvin, "Arthur Stringer," Canadian Poets (Toronto: McClelland, Goodchild & Stewart, 1916), 313,, Web, May 8, 2011.
  14. 14.0 14.1 Ken Norris, "The Beginnings of Canadian Modernism," Canadian Poetry: Studies/Documents/Reviews, No. 11 (Fall/Winter, 1982), Canadian Poetry,, Web, Mar. 25, 2011.
  15. Poems (1904), Internet Archive. Web, Apr. 14, 2013.
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 Search results Author:Arthur Stringer,, Web, May 8, 2011.
  17. 17.0 17.1 Author Search: Arthur Stringer, Open Library, Web, May 7, 2011.
  18. Geoffrey Dayton-Smith, American Fiction, 1901-1925. (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge U P, 1997, 646-647, Google Books, Web, May 8, 2011.

External linksEdit

  • "Spring Floods"
  • "A Woman at Dusk" in Poetry
  • Arthur Stringer in Canadian Poets.] - profile & 5 poems ("The Lure o' Life," "At the Comedy," "The Old Garden" (I-IV), "Destiny," "The Keeper," "The Seekers," "War," "Morning in the North-West," from Sappho in Leucadia)
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