Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book


Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Francine Lewis  

Pen Name: Helen Wells

Genre:

Born: Danville, Illinois

Sites:


Illinois Connection

Helen was born in Danville, Illinois. The family moved to New York City when Helen was about seven, and she loved New York. The family retained ties to Danville, however; almost every summer, they spent some time visiting relatives there. After her death in New York, she was laid to rest in Danville, Illinois.

Biographical and Professional Information

As a teenager, Wells studied painting at the Art Students League in New York City; she also studied music. At New York University, she became the first female editor of the school's literary quarterly. She graduated from NYU in 1934, with a major in philosophy and a minor in sociology and psychology. After graduation, she worked for a time as a social worker and began to write for magazines, and eventually turned to writing full-time after winning prizes in two short-story contests.During World War II, she served as a volunteer with the State Department's Office of the Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs, escorting Latin American visitors in the United States.She traveled widely, visiting Brazil, Spain, France, Austria, Israel, Mexico, England, and several other countries. Among her other interests were reading, theater, ballet, and jazz. She was active in several author organizations, especially the Mystery Writers of America, and taught writing courses at the Institute of Children's Literature in Redding Ridge, Connecticut.


Published Works Expand for more information


Titles At Your Library

Cherry Ames Boxed Set (Books 1-4) Student Nurse, Senior Nurse, Army Nurse & Chief Nurse
ISBN: 0977159744

Springer Publishing Company. 2005

The first boxed set, Cherry Ames Boxed Set 1-4, introduces our beloved heroine in her four earliest adventures: Student Nurse, Senior Nurse, Army Nurse, and Chief Nurse!

With a heart of pure gold and a true yearning to make a difference in the world, eighteen-year-old Cherry Ames leaves her hometown and enters nursing school, embarking on a lifetime of adventures. Follow Cherry through the introductory four-book set as she grows from student nurse to chief nurse, all the while making friends, pushing the limits of authority, leading her nursing colleagues, and sleuthing and solving mysteries. Smart, courageous, mischievous, quick-witted, and above all, devoted to nursing, Cherry Ames meets adventure head-on whereever she goes.


Cherry Ames, Student Nurse
In Student Nurse, Cherry starts nursing school at Spencer with a mixture of anxiety and anticipation - would she have what it takes to be a nurse? She leaves her quiet town of Hilton, Illinois for the bustle of hospital life, to meet challenges she wouldn't have imagined. The U.S. is at war. Many nurses have gone to the front, and there is a shortage of RNs at Spencer-which Cherry and her classmates help to fill, as they learn the skills they need to graduate. And who is the mysterious patient in the secret room that no one seems to know anything about? Should Cherry risk expulsion to save his life?


Cherry Ames, Senior Nurse
In Senior Nurse, Cherry realizes that "a senior really must be a little more sober and responsible" - perhaps she should have warned the head nurse right away about the rabbit that had been smuggled into the pediatric ward. But the children had enjoyed it so! As "lofty" seniors, Cherry and her friends each "adopt" a probationer (first-year student) to mentor. Why did her probie have to be dull and sullen Mildred Burnham? Dr. Joe Fortune has discovered a new way to synthesize penicillin - which could make a life or death difference on the battle front. But how did word of it become common knowledge around Spencer? Cherry discovers that Mildred has more to her than she thought as together they face the dangerous thieves who have stolen Dr. Joe's formula.


Cherry Ames, Army Nurse
In Army Nurse, Cherry has made the difficult decision facing all her classmates - should she enlist in the military or practice nursing on the homefront? She's graduated from Spencer and earned the right to put "RN" after her name, and as an Army nurse, she is now "Lieutenant Ames." The Army nurses are also soldiers, and endure a grueling basic training under the harsh Sergeant Deake (whom Cherry nicknames "Lovey," much to his chagrin). No one knows where the Spencer unit will be deployed until they are shipped off without warning - to Panama City. Who is the mysterious old Indian whom Cherry and her corpsman Bunce find collapsed in an abandoned house? He is obviously very ill, but with what? Can Dr. Joe's newly developed serum help?


Cherry Ames, Chief Nurse
In Chief Nurse, Cherry is whisked off to a new assignment on an island in the Pacific close to the battlefront -as Acting Chief Nurse! Colonel Pillsbee thinks she is too "young and pretty" to successfully supervise sixty nurses and 200 corpsmen. Can she do it? For the first time Cherry and the nurses of the Spencer unit have to work under fire, in a makeshift tent hospital uncomfortably close to the fighting. When the casualties pour in, the nurses and doctors work night and day, constantly under danger of attack by the Japanese. When the other Lieutenant Ames, Cherry's twin brother Charlie, is unexpectedly stationed nearby, Charlie and Cherry piece together the mystery behind the silence of an injured pilot - which involves a secret enemy weapon.



Click here to read about Cherry Ames in The New York Times!"

Cherry Ames Boxed Set (Books 5-8): Flight Nurse; Veteran's Nurse; Private Duty Nurse; Visiting Nurse
ISBN: 0826104010

Springer Publishing Company. 2006

The second boxed set, Cherry Ames Boxed Set 5-8, contains four early Cherry classics: Flight Nurse, Veterans' Nurse, Private Duty Nurse, and Visiting Nurse.


Cherry Ames, Flight Nurse
In Flight Nurse, the United States is still fighting World War II. Cherry Ames is still an Army Nurse, this time aloft--as a flight nurse. Cherry is reunited with her corpsman Bunce--the two of them are in sole charge of ferrying severely wounded men out of the battlefield and to the nearest Army hospital. Much to Pilot Wade Cooper's chagrin, he has been taken off bomber duty to fly the wounded to safety--until Cherry makes him see otherwise. Off duty, the nurses "adopt" 6-year-old Muriel Grainger, who has known nothing but war in her short life, and whose mother has been killed by the Germans. Her father is often out on mysterious errands that cause some to label him a "spy." Cherry makes it her risky business to find out if this is truth or rumor.


Cherry Ames, Veterans' Nurse
In Veterans' Nurse, the war is over, and Cherry is sent home. Her new assignment is working in a veteran's hospital, where she finds her biggest challenge in raising the spirits of men who have lost arms, legs, or other body parts. Will they be welcomed back to their families and able to work again? Jim Travers, the woodworker who has lost a leg and was the sole support of his elderly mother, isn't convinced. But he finds he is of critical assistance to Cherry as she tracks the mysterious thief who has robbed the Veteran's Centeer of a medicine that can help a small boy recover from a deadly disease.


Cherry Ames, Private Duty Nurse
In Private Duty Nurse, Cherry has finally been discharged from the Army and is back to civilian life. What should she do next after her intense years of Army nursing? Dr. Joe finds her a job as the private nurse of a celebrated musician suffering from a dangerous heart condition. How can Cherry help him avoid the deadly stress his devoted sister unintentially causes when she visits fortuneteller after fortuneteller? Will their family secret be revealed?


Cherry Ames, Visiting Nurse
In Visiting Nurse, Cherry reunites with her old Spencer classmates Gwen, Bertha, Josie, Vivian, and Mai Lee, when they all decide to take an apartment together in New York City, and work for the Visiting Nurse Service of New York. Greenwish Village is a far cry from Hilton, Illinois, and farm-raised Bertha is ready to mutiny when she tries to cook in their tiny kitchen. Assigned to a specific neighborhood, Cherry marvels at the many countries her patients come from--and is determined to resolve the loneliness of a few of them by having them all meet at an "Around the World" Dinner at the local settlement house. But who is the mysterious woman who lives in the Victorian mansion at the center of her district? Why hasn't she been seen by anyone in the past 18 years?



Click here to read about Cherry Ames in The New York Times!"

Cherry Ames Nursing Series Boxed-Set (Books 9-12) Cruise Nurse, Boarding School Nurse, Department Store Nurse and Camp Nurse
ISBN: 0826104193

Springer Publishing Company. 2007

The third boxed set, Cherry Ames Boxed Set 9-12, contains four early Cherry classics: Department Store Nurse, Camp Nurse, Boarding School Nurse, and Cruise Nurse!


Cherry Ames, Department Store Nurse
In Department Store Nurse, Cherry's first aid center is adjacent to the antiques department of a large department store, where a series of thefts have pointed the finger of suspicion at a young, recently widowed employee. But Cherry's instincts say otherwise, and her tenacity helps uncover the truth.


Cherry Ames, Camp Nurse
In Camp Nurse, while working as a camp nurse, Cherry follows a trail that ultimately leads to the true perpetrator of a series of robberies and exonerates a hard-woarking young man who had been under suspicion.


Cherry Ames, Boarding School Nurse
In Boarding School Nurse, Cherry's natural curiosity leads her to discover a secret room in the reconstructed ch‚Äöteau now used as a girls' boarding school. There she finds a formula that when recontructed to its exact specifications produces a perfume that saves the school from bankruptcy.


Cherry Ames, Cruise Nurse
In Cruise Nurse, Cherry is looking forward to a working vacation as nurse on a cruise ship to the Caribbean, Cherry Ames soon finds herself embroiled in a dangerous mystery involving a sickly child and greedy men anxious to find a secret stockpile of precious ambergris.


Click here to read about Cherry Ames in The New York Times!"

Cherry Ames: Box Set (Books 13-16) At Hilton Hospital, Island Nurse, Rural Nurse and Staff Nurse
ISBN: 0826104290

Springer Publishing Company. 2007

The fourth boxed set, Cherry Ames Boxed Set 13-16, feature four stories written after Helen Wells took the franchise back from Julie Tatham. They are: Hilton Hospital Nurse, Island Nurse, Rural Nurse, and Staff Nurse.


Cherry Ames, Hilton Hospital Nurse
In Hilton Hospital Nurse, one of the strangest cases of Cherry Ames' absorbing career comes her way while working as a staff nurse at Hilton Hospital in her home town. A young man, victim of a car accident, is brought to Emergency with a broken leg. Shortly after he is admitted to the hospital, the doctors discover that "Bob Smith" has been suffering from amnesia for several months.

Who is he? Where is his home? What tragic happening caused such distress that his memory is a blank? Answers to these questions must be found if "Bob" is to be cured.

Working under the direction of the medical and psychiatric doctors, Cherry plays a crucial role in helping the patient to get well and to find a solution to the dilemma that caused his "flight from memory." Clues develop as the psychiatrist uses various techniques to help the patient recapture his lost memory. "Bob Smith" insists that he is guilty--but of what he cannot recall. During her free time, Cherry follows up obscure clues and encounters suspiciously difficult people and an alarmingly tangled situation.

Here is a fascinating story that will be long remembered by the lovable nurse heroine's legions of admirers, both young and young at heart.


Cherry Ames, Island Nurse
In Island Nurse, Nurse Cherry doesn't realize when distinguished Sir Ian Barclay is rushed by his nephew Lloyd to Hilton Hospital that her newest case will carry her north to misty, sea-beaten Balfour Island, off the rugged coast of wind-swept Newfoundland. "Sudden hemorrhage of a peptic ulcer," Dr. Joe Fortune had quickly diagnosed, and Cherry is assigned to care for the truculent but endearing old Scotsman. Cherry soon suspects that more than illness is worrying the peppery owner of the Balfour Iron Mines, and her suspicions only deepen upon their arrival at Barclay House on Balfour Island.

True, there is trouble at the mines. But the mysterious actions of Sir Ian's erstwhile friend, Jock Cameron, force Cherry to conclude that trouble of even greater consequence is in the making. What hold does the industrialist Broderick have over Sir Ian? Who is "Little Joe" Tweed, and why does his trawler Heron ride at anchor off Balfour Island?

The startling solution to this baffling mystery waits for Cherry in three different places: deep in the salt-stained recesses of Rogues' Cave, in the musty tower room of Barclay House, and in the hole on the hill. But first Cherry must face the effects of an island storm, as she and the island doctor struggle to save the crew of a shoal-wrecked boat.


Cherry Ames, Rural Nurse
In Rural Nurse, as a public health nurse in Iowa, Cherry works with federal authorities to quash the manufacture and distribution of a bogus remedy and discovers the secret of a decrepit, abandoned farmhouse.


Cherry Ames, Staff Nurse
In Staff Nurse, when Cherry Ames learns that the new patient in her ward is using the proceeds from her deceased husband's life insurance to speculate in stock, she judges her foolish. And when the young woman explains the Pell Corporation investment program, Cherry suspects that her patient is being swindled.

Even more serious, Peggy Wilmot is jeopardizing her health. For emotional tension over the delayed arrival of her weekly dividend check is retarding her recovery. But how can Cherry influence the headstrong young woman who seeks financial help from the wrong people? Find out the truth about the Pell Corporation, Cherry decides, and let the facts speak for themselves.

Some of the vital questions to which Cherry must find the answers are: What are the Pell Corporation's actual operations as distinguished from the fantastic claims made in its impressive brochures? Is the mysterious Cleveland Pell really the financial wizard he claims to be? Busy with ward duty and a training program for teen-age junior volunteers at Hilton Hospital, Cherry does not have much time for another extracurricular task. But the plight of Peggy Wilmot is too serious to be ignored.

What Cherry learns in the mysterious world of the "high finance" confidence game will surprise the reader as much as it does America's favorite nurse heroine.


Click here to read about Cherry Ames in The New York Times!"

Cherry Ames Boxed Set (Books 17-20): Companion Nurse, Jungle Nurse, The Mystery in the Doctor's Office & Ski Nurse Mystery
ISBN: 0826104398

Springer Publishing Company, LLC.. 2008

The fifth boxed set, Cherry Ames Boxed Set 17-20, contains Cherry's final adventures in four pulse-pounding mysteries: Companion Nurse, Jungle Nurse, The Mystery at the Doctor's Office, and Ski Nurse Mystery.


Cherry Ames, Companion Nurse
In Companion Nurse, Cherry's job as nurse to the well-known historical novelist Martha Logan would be an exciting assignment for any young and pretty RN. And it is doubly exciting for Cherry, for when the author goes to England to do research for her next book, Cherry goes along as companion nurse.

But the glamour of new acquaintances and the thrill of seeing famous historic places is soon overshadowed by disturbing events. Martha Logan and Cherry visit the Selsam Gallery in London--it is robbed of a fortune in art treasures. Several days later they are enjoying the famous Carewe private collection--when four masterpieces are cut from their frames!

Are the thefts somehow connected with their visits? Have some of their new acquaintances used Martha to help them perpetrate the thefts? Or is it merely coincidence that the places the two visit are robbed? Cherry thinks the evidence says NO.

It takes all the ingenuity and courage of the alert and pretty young nurse to fit the odd, baffling clues together and unmask the criminals in time to prevent another theft of priceless art.


Cherry Ames, Jungle Nurse
In Jungle Nurse, Cherry Ames is offered a temporary assignment to help establish a health clinic in a small native African village, she sees it as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Not only will she be visiting a strange and exciting part of the world--but, more importantly, she will have a chance to help the underprivileged people of a very poor country.

But no sooner has the clinic been built than Cherry finds herself caught up in the midst of a mysterious chain of events. Rough diamonds are being smuggled out of Africa--and Cherry's acute observations lead her to believe that the clinic itself is the base of the smugglers' operations!

By carefully putting together obscure bits and pieces of evidence, and at great personal danger to herself, Cherry sets a trap for the criminals.

How the alert and pretty young nurse from the United States manages to put an end to an international smuggling ring provides a whirlwind finish to a fascinating story of mystery and intrigue.


Cherry Ames, The Mystery at the Doctor's Office
In The Mystery at the Doctor's Office, in a doctor's office nurse in New York City, Cherry Ames faces new challenges and makes some extraordinary new friends. First in importance is her dynamo of an employer, Dr. William Fairall. Glamorous theatrical patients flock to his Victorian brownstone offices. His assistant, young Dr. Grey Russell, plays a vital role in Cherry's eventful summer--and so do funny little elderly Dr. Lamb and the strangely moody medical secretary Irene Wick.

Among the interesting, colorful people Cherry meets are a stricken ballet dancer, her handsome actor husband, and their adorable baby, who move into the vacant top floor of the brownstone.

And when her nurse friends, with whom she shares an apartment in Greenwich Village, inherit an old house near a beach in a charming summer resort area of eastern Long Island, Cherry foresees especially gay, carefree weekends.

But Cherry's expectations are soon shattered. Confronted by a mysterious, alarming series of events, the pretty nurse finds that she needs all of her detective skills when the clue of the dinosaur plunges her into the center of intrigue.


Cherry Ames, Ski Nurse Mystery
In Ski Nurse Mystery, Cherry Ames is thrilled to be working in a picturesque ski resort town in the Swiss Alps. The town's only doctor has employed her to assist him in his ten-bed hospital.

Within 24 hours after starting her new assignment, Cherry encounters a hostile, menacing patient who seeks emergency medical care at the hospital. A few days later, other suspicious persons turn up at the hotel where she is living, and Cherry finds herself deeply enmeshed in an unknown danger.

Val Nicholas, a handsome ski instructor, helps Cherry to track down the source of the mysterious danger. Together, Val and Cherry undertake a perilous journey on skies, to protect her own life and to save the life of a sick man who is being victimized. It takes all of the vivacious and pretty young nurse's courage and stamina to expose an ingenious racket and trap a group of ruthless criminals.


Click here to read about Cherry Ames in The New York Times!"

Doctor Betty (A Career romance for young moderns)
ISBN: 0671321870

Messner. 1969

Betty's desire to be a wife is second only to her desire to be a doctor, a situation causing her many agonizing decisions before she learns it is possible to blend marriage and medicine.


Awards

-- The 1986 Juvenile Series Writer's Conference, Corning, NY, was dedicated to the memory of Helen Wells.