“ A moral and inspirational story with a very special message, exquisitely and artistically illustrated in the spirit of the Fairbanks legacy,” says Vera Fairbanks about Princess April Morning-Glory.
At long last, "Princess April Morning-Glory" emerges as a charming treasure from the golden age of Hollywood. Written and exquisitely illustrated in the late 1930s by Letitia Fairbanks, the niece of silent film stars Douglas Fairbanks Sr. and Mary Pickford, the seemingly traditional children’s book is transformed into a modern day fairy tale that is sure to captivate child and adult readers alike.
Taking Letitia Fairbanks 13 months to write, using calligraphy and her own remarkable watercolor illustrations, it was too complicated for the printers of the day to mass produce, and so "Princess April Morning-Glory" sat idle for almost 80 years. Miraculously, through the efforts of Letitia’s stepdaughter Kelly Smoot Garrett and her husband Danny Garrett, a painstakingly-detailed digital restoration of the original artwork was completed and this important book has now seen the light of day.
Letitia, who was born in 1913, spent much of her childhood through early adulthood at Pickfair, the legendary estate built by Fairbanks and Pickford, where she was surrounded by the luminaries of the time. When she started writing “Princess April Morning Glory” in her twenties as an homage to her recently deceased uncle, Letitia derived inspiration for the illustrations from then-current Hollywood blockbuster films. Her portraiture was also likely inspired by a composite of that era’s celluloid legends.
Author Raised in Hollywood Produces Tale of Fantasy & Adventure
The book was first copyrighted in 1941 — up until then no one had thought to meld a Disney-like moral tale with a swashbuckling adventure — and the story centers around the prescient acknowledgement that we create our destinies by the choices that we make. The main narrative is focused around the brave and courageous Princess April who must first transcend darkness and evil before she can realize her true potential. Intrigued by the great world, and its sense of adventure, a young Princess April decides to abandon the familiarity of her home in Fairyland and undertake a voyage into the unknown. Once outside the Enchanted Forest, she finds comfort and friendship in the company of various creatures who ensure her safe passage.
Her returning home proves more difficult than at first she realized. In order to go back to Fairyland, a friendly wizard informs Princess April that she must first accomplish three good deeds. Can Princess April resist the temptation of darker forces and summon enough courage to continue doing good deeds? And if she dares to hold true to herself will it someday lead her back home again?
Exploring the Fairbanks Legacy on a Trip to Hollywood
When visiting Los Angeles, there are many landmarks and institutions around Hollywood that owe their existence to the energy of Letitia’s Uncle Doug Fairbanks, Sr. and Aunt Mary Pickford. Any child who enjoys the book will want to learn more about the author's fascinating family.
In 1927 Fairbanks was the co-founder of the landmark Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel (323/466-7000) with Pickford, Grauman, and Louis B.Mayer, so that visitors from the East coast working in the movie industry would have a place to stay with first-class, high-quality service. Today the exquisite hotel has amazing displays and photos of the glory days of Hollywood. The hotel is located at 7000l Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles, right along the Walk of Fame. In the same year Fairbanks also became the co-founder of the Academy of Motion Picture Sciences (AMPAS).
In 2002, AMPAS opened the Fairbanks Center for Motion Picture Study (310/247-3020) located at 333 South La Cienega Boulevard. The building houses the Margaret Herrick Library. The 2011 film “The Artist,” was loosely based on Fairbanks, with the film’s lead Jean Dujardin portraying Zorro in a silent movie featuring a scene from the Fairbanks version.
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