Grace Livingston Hill was a prolific author of books that ranged from romance novels to historical fiction. With more than 100 titles and over 100 million copies of her books sold during the past 13 decades, Grace is a well-known writer in Christian publishing circles. She is known for crafting novels with strong characters and a definite emphasis on good versus evil as well as living out the Christian faith.
Grace’s Early Years and Family
Grace Livingston was born on April 16, 1865, in Wellsville, New York. Very ill at birth, she barely survived and her parents thus gave her the name of Grace to reflect their gratitude that God had spared her life.
Her father, Reverend Charles Livingston, was a Presbyterian pastor. Her mother, Marcia Macdonald Livingston, was supportive of her husband’s work and enjoyed being a mother. Marcia was also an excellent storyteller and with her sister, Isabella Macdonald Alden, wrote extensively. It was, in fact, her Aunt Belle who put Grace on the path to becoming an author. She gave Grace a bound copy of a story she had dictated to Aunt Belle, The Esselstynes, on her twelfth birthday.
Grace’s first published book was A Chautauqua Idyll. Published in 1887, Grace wrote the book in an effort to earn enough money to take the family to the Chautauqua Lake program in New York when her father’s health had forced them to move to Florida. It was the beginning of a long and productive writing career.
Grace’s Personal Life Like One of Her Books
Grace’s personal life was sometimes tumultuous and almost a story in and of itself. She was actively involved in the establishment of Rollins College in Florida and worked closely with students in the early years. Grace married Frank Hill, a Presbyterian minister, in 1892. Theirs was a happy marriage that included the addition of two daughters, Margaret and Ruth. Tragically, the marriage was cut short by the untimely death of Frank in 1899 due to appendicitis. In addition to this loss, Grace’s father died less than a year later.
A later second marriage to a man fifteen years her junior was a disaster and ended in a permanent separation since Grace did not believe divorce was an option for a Christian. The addition of Lutz to her full name on some books reflects those years of her marriage. (While she usually wrote as Grace Livingston Hill, she also used the pen name Marcia Macdonald at times.)
Grace’s writing had been an interesting part of her life up to the point when her husband and father died, primarily as a way to earn extra money and use her gifts. But with their deaths, Grace was now responsible for supporting not only herself but also her two daughters and mother. This spurred her on to write widely and prolifically for newspapers, Sunday School materials, newsletters, and the consumer book market. She frequently wrote two or three books a year in addition to running a household, teaching her daughters, being actively involved in the life of her church, and writing for many other publishing outlets.
Grace’s Changing Writing Style
Grace’s writing style evolved over the many decades she wrote so reading only one or two books won’t provide a full understanding of how she told her stories. Her books were usually set in the time in which they were written, so reading them now is like reading historical fiction. Her early books from the late 1800s and early 1900s include details fitting the time such as horses and carriages and traveling by train. Her stories progress through World War 1, the Roaring Twenties, the Great Depression, and into the World War 2 years.
At times she wrote of the West, cowboys, and the desert. Other stories featured wealthy families in the east losing everything. Some stories featured young women who suddenly found themselves completely alone in life. Families were a prominent storyline including families who came to or returned to Christ during difficult circumstances. Many of her heroines were young Christian women or worldly young women who recognized their need of a Savior during the course of the story. Each story brought something different.
Women who enjoy reading about vintage homemaking will especially enjoy many of Grace’s stories as that is a frequent theme and she delighted in providing details in these areas.
Grace’s Lasting Contribution to Christian Fiction
Grace’s contribution to the arena of Christian fiction and the romance genre was significant. Even 80 to 120 years after her books were first published, they are still widely read and collected. In many ways, she opened to door to the Christian romance genre to come.
Grace Livingston Hill’s emphasis on timeless faith and the battle of good versus evil still draws women who appreciate a wholesome story that glorifies Christ and usually ends on a happy note.
List of Grace Livingston Hill Books & Publication Date
The list below features her books along with the publication date. It does not includes small booklets, short stories, and other pieces published in magazines, Sunday School papers, etc. Click any title to see more on Amazon.