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Ermina Arlette

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Ermina Arlette
Arlette in 1940
Arlette in 1940
BornErmina Gael Arlette
(1917-09-28)September 28, 1917
Westpool, Hyreathe, Rythene
DiedDecember 22, 1999(1999-12-22) (aged 82)
OccupationChildren's author, poet, novelist
EducationGaudin University
GenrePost-war writer, children's literature
Notable worksLife Beyond the Shores
Homeland
Spouse

Ermina Gael Arlette (/ɑːrlɛt/ 28 September 1917 - 22 December 1999) was a Rythenean author and poet, most popularly known for her post-war novels and children’s literature.

Arlette’s early professional career was driven by her novels, which targeted themes of the Second Great War, more specifically the horrors of the battlefield and the struggles of life back home. Following her initial success, Arlette began to focus more so on her poetry, famously publishing fifty poems in the space of eight months in 1944. In later life, Arlette utilised her talent in poetry and became a children’s author, writing a number of successful and unique books for youth.

In total, Arlette’s books sold over one-hundred and fifty million copies worldwide. Her most successful novel, ‘Homefront’, contributed to more than half of that total, having sold eighty million copies as of 2017. Arlette’s most successful children’s book was ‘The Raven and the Wolf’, which had twenty million global sales. The writer’s most commonly sold collection of poems was her last publication, ‘Light’, which reflected a stark contrast to the tone of her previous works.

Personal life

Arlette married her partner Henri Chopin shortly after the publication of her first novel in 1938, and kept her own surname so she wouldn’t have to change her pen name, despite her book’s mediocre success when it was initially released. Chopin was enlisted in the military in 1940, and died in a Songhese prisoner of war camp in November 1941. After her husband’s death, Arlette hurriedly finished the novel she was working on, and stopped writing books for a decade. Her final book before her hiatus was ‘Life Beyond the Shores: Prisoner of Qes’, which was based on the final letters she received from her husband. Arlette’s poetry, which was written mainly during this time, reflected her personal experiences dealing with grief.

Career

Novels

Arlette’s first well received literary works was ‘Life Beyond the Shores’, which was a series of novels released during the Second Great War, inspired by letters exchanged with her husband. The books were centered around the true nature and atrocities of war, and told the story of an average soldier’s experience. General Howard Cardinal once approached Arlette to write his biography, however she refused, often saying in interviews that an “untold story is always more interesting.” Another successful series of publications from Arlette was the ‘Hidden Apathy’ trilogy, which were fictional accounts on some of history’s most notorious serial killers. The collection still remains quite popular today, and has sold over four million copies worldwide.

After the death of her husband, Arlette refused to write novels for a number of years, preferring poetry as an outlet for her grief. In 1951, she published her first major book in a decade, ‘Homefront’; Arlette’s most successful publication to date. According to Arlette, it took her four years of thorough work to write.

I knew from the moment I penned the first chapter that this was going to be different. Something unlike what I had written before, but also something I think no one has written before. As I sat up late one night, I suddenly felt the pressure to make sure I did this right.

— Ermina Arlette, 11 February 1955

Homefront has sold eighty million copies worldwide, and is frequently taught in literature classes across the globe. The novel’s basic plot followed the story of a lower class family (the Deschampes) living in the south of Blayk during the industrial revolution, who are struggling to maintain financial security. They are evicted from their home soon after the birth of the protagonist’s little sister, and the book follows their constant misfortunes as they struggle to get by. After the death of their eldest child, the mother of the family leaves with her infant to live with a wealthy gentleman in Montignè. The father manages to secure a new job in the urban heart of Marbonne, and the protagonist completes any job they can find for money, including running deliveries for local merchants. By the end of the book, the pair are worked to the brink of exhaustion, and decide to use what little money they had to move to insular Rythene, where the industrial revolution hadn’t yet spread to.

Arlette wrote novels extensively from the release of Homefront until the mid-1960s, where she began to focus on children’s literature, as she believed all of her works were motivated by grief for her husband and affecting the quality of her writing.

Poetry

Arlette wrote most of her poetry between the death of her husband in 1941 until 1948, a fair amount of her work written in mourning. In 1944, Arlette wrote fifty poems in an eight month span, now collectively known as ‘Arlette’s most inspired works’. Arlette primarily wrote her poetry in anapestic tetrameter, which she later applied to her children’s books. Her poetry was often based on her own experiences, and highlighted the low point of her life.

Children’s literature

Front cover of ‘Edgar and the Bear’ without text.

Arlette’s first foray into children literature occurred in 1965 with the release of ‘Edgar and the Bear’, a retelling of the common folktale about Edgar of Casmire. Her book incorporated the use of her poetry expertise, which set a precedent for her future works. Later that same year, Arlette published ‘The Raven and the Wolf’, commonly regarded as her most recognised book, having sold over twenty million paperback copies. After the initial success of her first two children’s books, Arlette decided to solely publish stories for youth.

As my poetry showed, I was suffering for a long time. I had lost my husband and brother to the war, and facing my sudden fame alone scared me. When I started writing novels again, I still hadn’t come to terms with Henri’s death, and I knew that there was something more out there for me. Writing books for children became a positive outlet, and once I started I couldn’t write anything else. It was the cure for my seemingly unending sorrow.

— Ermina Arlette, 30 June 1992

For over twenty years, Arlette visited many kindergartens and primary schools to read her books to young children. She also gave a number of guest lectures at different schools, including Gaudin University where Edward Hådirssen was in attendance. By the time of her retirement from writing due to her declining health, Arlette had written a total of twenty-one books for children, selling nearly forty-three million copies.

Death

In 1990, Arlette was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, which caused her decision to stop writing books. However, she did continue to travel to early education centres to read to the youth for as long as her health permitted. On the 22nd of December 1999, Arlette passed away in the comfort of her daughter’s house, after being cared for the last two years of her life.

List of publications

Books

Year Book Genre Copies sold Publisher
1938 Heart Romance 20,700 Inkhouse
1939 Hidden Apathy Crime 2,500,000 Inkhouse
1939 Auressian Front Second Great War 33,700 Henry and Henri’s Publishing
1940 Life Beyond the Shores Second Great War 12,000,000 Henry and Henri’s Publishing
1940 Life Beyond the Shores: Frozen Axe Second Great War 5,146,300 Henry and Henri’s Publishing
1940 Life Beyond the Shores: Beaches of Battimadal Second Great War 3,819,200 Henry and Henri’s Publishing
1940 Hidden Apathy: Notorious Crime 900,200 Inkhouse
1940 Life Beyond the Shores: Audeamus Second Great War 6,888,200 Henry and Henri’s Publishing
1941 Life Beyond the Shores: Hardships at Sãda Mõdanha Second Great War 6,165,700 Henry and Henri’s Publishing
1941 Hidden Apathy: Flee Crime 898,000 Inkhouse
1941 Life Beyond the Shores: Prisoner of Qes Second Great War 6,239,300 Henry and Henri’s Publishing
1951 Homefront Gothic 80,000,000 Pennings
1953 Yesterday was History Adventure 50,500 Pennings
1953 Tomorrow is a Mystery Adventure 46,200 Pennings
1954 Today is a Gift Adventure 32,200 Pennings
1954 Intoxicating Innocence Thriller 15,900 Pennings
1955 Friend or Traitor Whodunit 22,800 Pennings
1955 Look Upon My Heart Romance 19,900 Pennings
1956 Morrow Adventure 21,100 Pennings
1956 Do You Remember? Mystery 29,400 Pennings
1958 Dust Adventure 11,600 Pennings
1958 Breeze Adventure 10,800 Pennings
1961 Spark Adventure 12,900 Pennings
1962 Hearth Adventure 22,800 Pennings
1963 Rain Adventure 16,700 Pennings
1964 Like Clockwork Mystery 40,300 Pennings
1965 Edgar and the Bear Children's literature 10,500,000 Green Dove
1965 The Raven and the Wolf Children's literature 20,000,000 Green Dove
1966 My Child Children's literature 670,400 Green Dove
1966 Lazy Sunday Children's literature 278,400 Green Dove
1967 Swan in the Sun Children's literature 1,000,000 Green Dove
1968 Brother of Mine Children's literature 100,300 Green Dove
1970 The Falcon’s Broken Wing Children's literature 503,200 Green Dove
1971 Lost in a Zoo Children's literature 879,400 Green Dove
1973 My Red Sailboat Children's literature 293,400 Green Dove
1974 See You On The Moon Children's literature 111,800 Green Dove
1975 Dancing Left Children's literature 362,200 Green Dove
1976 Old Flag, New Flag Children's literature 682,300 Green Dove
1977 See You At Ten Children's literature 8,500,000 Green Dove
1977 The Mongoose in the Stable Children's literature 980,400 Green Dove
1978 Land of Roses Children's literature 190,800 Green Dove
1979 Cousin George Children's literature 50,500 Green Dove
1980 New Blue Suit Children's literature 138,300 Green Dove
1983 Frozen Foot Children's literature 662,800 Green Dove
1985 The Grand Banana Children's literature 102,300 Green Dove
1988 It’s Just Tea Children's literature 423,400 Green Dove
1990 Samson the Dolphin Children's literature 3,000,000 Green Dove

Poetry Collections

Year Collection title Number of poems Publisher
1940 Fields 10 Inkhouse
1940 Roses 10 Inkhouse
1941 Shadows 30 Inkhouse
1942 Dusk 25 Inkhouse
1943 Midnight 20 Inkhouse
1943 Drowning 15 Inkhouse
1944 Arlette’s most inspired works 50 Inkhouse
1945 Bitter 25 Inkhouse
1946 Unending 10 Inkhouse
1948 Light 20 Inkhouse