Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Birth Dates of Notable Kentuckians: March 28, 1905 - Janice Holt Giles

Image from the Janice Holt Giles & Henry Giles Society

From The Kentucky Encyclopedia -
Janice (Holt) Giles, novelist, was born March 28, 1905, in Altus, Arkansas, the daughter of John Albert and Lucy (McGraw) Holt, both schoolteachers. She grew up in Arkansas and Oklahoma, where her parents taught in the old Choctaw Nation. She attended the University of Arkansas and Transylvania University in Lexington, Kentucky. In 1923 she married Otto Jackson Moore, by whom she had a daughter, Elizabeth. She was divorced from Moore in 1939.

In 1941 Janice Holt moved to Kentucky, where she worked for a Frankfort church and the Louisville Presbyterian Seminary. In the summer of 1943, on a bus trip to Texas to visit her aunt, she met Henry Giles, a soldier, when he boarded the bus in Bowling Green, Kentucky. They were married in 1945. In 1949, while she was writing Miss Willie (1951), Janice and Henry moved to a small farm near his boyhood home, close to Knifley in Adair County , Kentucky. After publication of her first novel, The Enduring Hills (1950), Giles became a free-lance writer and full-time novelist, publishing twenty-four books.

The majority of her published works are novels, which fall into three distinct groups: the Piney Ridge trilogy -- The Enduring Hills, Miss Willie (1951), and Tara's Healing (1952); the Kentucky trilogy -- The Kentuckians (1953), Hannah Fowler (1956), and The Believers (1957); and the novels of Arkansas and the western frontier, including Johnny Osage (1960), Savanna (1961), Voyage To Santa Fe (1962), and Six-Horse Hitch (1969). The novels and nonfiction of the Piney Ridge period reflect the extent of her acclimation to her husband's native area. Her historical novels are well researched, historically accurate, and insightful works about the founding and early settlement of Kentucky. After 1958, her novels about the frontier of her native Arkansas and Oklahoma took the descendants of her Kentucky characters into an even newer land. Giles has been critically overlooked, perhaps because of her prolific output, as well as her appeal to popular tastes.

Giles died on June 1, 1979, and was buried in Caldwell Chapel Cemetery, near her home in Adair County.

BONNIE JEAN COX, Entry Author  

Selected Sources from UK Libraries:

Stuart, D., & University Press of Kentucky. (1998). Janice Holt Giles : A writer's life. Lexington, Ky.: University Press of Kentucky.
Young Library   Books - 5th Floor   PS3513.I4628 Z88 1998 

Giles, H., Phillips, P., & Giles, Janice Holt. (1995). A little better than plumb : The biography of a house. Lexington, Ky.: University Press of Kentucky.
Young Library   Books - 4th Floor   F457.A3 G55 1995 

Giles, J. (1978). Voyage to Santa Fe. New York: Avon Books.
Young Library   Books - 4th Floor   G393v 1978

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