Legendary tales of saints in early Christian times are plentiful, but what is known about both Saint Valentine and the development of the holiday are fairly consistent. Much less is known about today's author, Grace Humphrey, who published many books in the early 20th century. Let's look at what she wrote first, plus a drawing of the youthful saint. (No illustrations from early days exist. Religious or stained glass versions make him look way older than I picture this man who valued love. I chose another that's common, but also by the prolific "A. Nony Mous.")
Whether you like poems, flowers, or modern day cards and "sweets for the sweet", this gives you a bit of legendary background on a holiday that is certainly commercialized, but also would be popular even without buying a thing.
I mentioned at the beginning little is known about the author, Grace Humphrey. Perhaps genealogical information could be found, but that lets us know only a facts view of a woman whose many works tried to present both what facts could be found AND some of the spirit of her subjects. Her list of works at Goodreads lets me guess she was from Illinois with possibly eastern European roots. In a day when book covers didn't carry author photos, she seems to have preferred to let her work speak for itself.
Speaking of her works, Stories of the World's Holidays, is on my shelf in a sturdy brown reprint from Gale Research. They reprinted many early books of interest to storytellers, so if you see them, don't let the boring appearance stop you.
At one time while freelancing I worked for the local publisher, Gale, back then called Gale Research. Like many publishers they've become part of a larger publisher, in this case Cengage. Mergers happen and tax laws on a publisher's "backlist" all led to dropping their republishing old classics like today's book, Stories of the World's Holidays. The Public Domain was enriched by those backlist classics.
- There are many online resources for Public Domain stories, maybe none for folklore is as ambitious as fellow storyteller, Yoel Perez's database, Yashpeh, the International Folktales Collection. I have long recommended it and continue to do so. He has loaded Stith Thompson's Motif Index into his server as a database so you can search the whole 6 volumes for whatever word or expression you like by pressing one key. http://folkmasa.org/motiv/motif.htm
- You may have noticed I'm no
longer certain Dr. Perez has the largest database, although his
offering the Motif Index certainly qualifies for those of us seeking
specific types of stories. There's another site, FairyTalez
claiming to be the largest, with "over 2000 fairy tales,
folktales, and fables" and they are "fully optimized for
phones, tablets, and PCs", free and presented without ads.
Between those two sites, there is much for story-lovers, but as they say in infomercials, "Wait, there's more!"
- Zalka Csenge Virag - http://multicoloreddiary.blogspot.com doesn't give the actual stories, but her recommendations, working her way through each country on a continent, give excellent ideas for finding new books and stories to love and tell.
You're going to find many of the links on these sites have gone down, BUT go to the Internet Archive Wayback Machine to find some of these old links. Tim's site, for example, is so huge probably updating it would be a full-time job. In the case of Story-Lovers, it's great that Jackie Baldwin set it up to stay online as long as it did after she could no longer maintain it. Possibly searches maintained it. Unfortunately Storytell list member, Papa Joe is on both Tim Sheppard's site and Story-Lovers, but he no longer maintains his old Papa Joe's Traveling Storytelling Show website and his Library (something you want to see!) is now only on the Wayback Machine. It took some patience working back through claims of snapshots but finally in December of 2006 it appears!
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