Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book


Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Janet Loxley Lewis  

Pen Name: Janet Lewis

Genre: Fiction Poetry

Born: 1899 in Chicago, Illinois

Sites:


Illinois Connection

Lewis was born in Chicago, Illinois, and was a graduate of the University of Chicago.

Biographical and Professional Information

Janet Lewis was a novelist and a poet and she taught at both Stanford University in California, and the University of California at Berkeley. She also collaborated with Alva Henderson, a composer for whom she wrote three libretti and several song texts.


Published Works Expand for more information


Titles At Your Library

The Trial Of Soren Qvist
ISBN: 0804002975

Swallow Press. 1959

The Wife Of Martin Guerre
ISBN: 0804003211

Swallow Press. 1967

This compelling story of Bertrande de Rols is a rich novella with the timeless power of a fable. It was based on a famous story of a court case in mid-16th century France.Janet Lewis depicts a distant time and a traditional, rural culture based on a highly ordered patriarchal structure. When "Martin Guerre" returns from a quest after eight years, the family embraces him, and Bertrande is swept up in the relief at the apparent return to the security of the old order.But Martin has changed, and Bertrande threatens the established order with her defiant quest for the truth. Once the accusation of false identity is laid formally and the trial process begins. Many witnesses are called. Bertrande is pressured to withdraw, and she herself is reluctant to see "Martin" executed.Finally, the real, battle-weary Martin stumbles into the courtroom and is instantly recognized. He shows no mercy to Bertrande for allowing herself to be deceived. The real facts emerge, but the fate of Bertrande and Martin remains open-ended.

In this new edition of Janet Lewis’s classic short novel, The Wife of Martin Guerre, Swallow Press executive editor Kevin Haworth writes that Lewis’s story is “a short novel of astonishing depth and resonance, a sharply drawn historical tale that asks contemporary questions about identity and belonging, about men and women, and about an individual’s capacity to act within an inflexible system.” Originally published in 1941, The Wife of Martin Guerre has earned the respect and admiration of critics and readers for over sixty years.

Based on a notorious trial in sixteenth-century France, this story of Bertrande de Rols is the first of three novels making up Lewis’s Cases of Circumstantial Evidence suite (the other two are The Trial of Sören Qvist and The Ghost of Monsieur Scarron).

Swallow Press is delighted and honored to offer readers beautiful new editions of all three Cases of Circumstantial Evidence novels, each featuring a new introduction by Kevin Haworth.

The Ghost of Monsieur Scarron
ISBN: 0804001332

Swallow Press. 1981

This third novel in the three Cases of Circumstantial Evidence provides an intimate portrayal of deception and corruption in one small poor Parisian family in the late 1600s. In contrast to the majesty of the court of Louis XIV and the bloodthirsty crowds of Paris at that time, the simple lives of Jean Larcher and his wife and son are pitiably ruined by the presence of a seducer and his political pamphlets. The result: personal and public passions mesh to hang an innocent man.

The Invasion
ISBN: 0870134957

Michigan State University Press. 2000

The Invasion, a novel originally published in 1932, marked the debut of historical novelist Janet Lewis, who went on to write numerous poems and short stories as well as the novels The Wife of Martin Guerre and The Trial of Soren Quist. Lewis grew up in the Lake country of the Old Northwest and The Invasion is based on family stories she heard as a child.The Invasion displays well-researched historical accuracy, an innate understanding of and feeling for Native American culture enhanced by the author's fluency in the Ojibway language, and an economy of style that is remarkable for a first novel.


In 1790, John Johnston, a cultivated young Irishman, came to the far corner of the Northwest Territory to make his fortune intending to spend only a year. Instead he married Ozhah-guscoday- wayquay (The Woman of the Glade), daughter of the Ojibway chief Waub- ojeeg, and settled on the St. Mary's River. Together they founded a family that was loved, respected, and famous throughout the region for honesty, fairness, and hospitality. Their home was the center of culture for the area and for every visiting traveler, Native American or white. The Invasion chronicles a time when one culture violently supplanted another even as it depicts a family that blends two cultures together.


Henry Rowe Schoolcraft considered the Johnston family his most valued connection to the Native American population. He eventually married Jane Johnston, daughter of John and The Woman of the Glade, and remain close to her entire family. In his diary, Schoolcraft wrote of the Johnstons, "I have in fact stumbled, as it were, on the only family in Northwest America who could in Indian lore have acted as my guide, philosopher, and friend."

Poems Old & New 1918-1978
ISBN: 0804003726

Swallow Press. 1981

Kenneth Rexroth wrote: “Janet Lewis uses reason to veil and adorn the flesh of feeling and intuition. This is the way the greatest poetry has always been written.”

The poems in this collection range over a period of 60 years. The style is spare, direct, cutting to the core of subject. Richness of intelligence and a concern for the human has also characterized every phase of Lewis’ development.