Fanny Crosby


Fanny Crosby : biography

March 24, 1820 – February 12, 1915

According to Ruffin, Carleton’s book "went over like a lead balloon with Fanny’s publishers", although there was nothing negative written explicitly about Biglow and Main, but also little praise for the firm and its members.Ruffin (1985), p. 211. Crosby is quoted as referring to Biglow and Main: "with whom I have maintained most cordial and even affectionate relations, for many years past".Carleton (1903), p. 79. Carleton’s book did not use any of Crosby’s hymns owned by Biglow and Main. Hubert Main believed: "Will Carleton wanted to ignore the Biglow & Main Company and all its writers as far as possible and set himself up as the one of her friends who was helping her". Biglow and Main believed Carleton and Knapp were guilty of "a brutal attack on Fanny", and were plotting to "take over" Crosby. At the fortieth anniversary reception and dinner held in Manhattan to celebrate Crosby’s association with Bradbury and Biglow and Main in February 1904, Phoebe Knapp was not invited as she was persona non grata at Biglow and Main.Blumhofer (2005), pp. 325–326.

Biglow and Main were concerned that the book would diminish sales of Crosby’s Bells at Evening and Other Verses, which they had published in 1897, and which contained Lowry’s biographical sketch of Crosby.Ruffin (1976), p. 182. They convinced Crosby to write to both Carleton and Knapp, and to threaten to sue Carleton in April 1904. The latter was in order to obtain information regarding sales of the book, for which she had been promised a royalty of 10 cents per copy, and to seek an injunction preventing further publication. The proposed injunction was on the grounds that she had been misrepresented by Carleton, whom she believed had described her as living alone in poor health and extreme poverty, when in fact she was receiving $25 a week from Biglow and Main, and was living with relatives who cared for her."WILL CARLETON SUED.; Miss Fanny Crosby Demands an Accounting of Book Sales", Special to The New York Times (April 7, 1904):2, (2005), pp. 324–325. Crosby indicated she had no desire to be a homeowner, and that if she was ever living in poverty, it was her choice.Ruffin (1995), p. 212.

In response to Crosby’s letter and threats, Carleton wrote in a letter to The New York Times that he was motivated to write his "labor of love" for Crosby in order to raise money that she might have a home of her own for the first time in her life; that he had interviewed Crosby and transcribed the details of her life; had paid her for her time and materials; had secured her permission to publish the material in his magazine Every Where, and in a book; had paid all the expenses for publishing and printing out of his own pocket; had promoted the book in his own time and at his own expense; and had remitted to her $235.20 for the royalties owing for the previous eight months at the agreed rate, and had sent additional contributions given by admirers at his lectures to her.Will Carleton, Letter to the Editor of the New York Times (April 7, 1904), in "MR. CARLETON’S SIDE OF THE CROSBY AFFAIR; Blind Poetess Was Really Poor, Ballad Poet Says", The New York Times (April 8, 1904):8, Sankey, who paid the rent on the Bridgeport house where Crosby lived with her half-sister Carrie,Ruffin (1976), p. 210. implied in an article in The Christian that "the Carleton business had been of Satanic origin and commented, echoing the wheat and tares passage in scripture, ‘An enemy hath done this’".Ruffin (1976), p. 213. In 1904 Knapp contacted Methodist Episcopal Church Bishop Charles Cardwell McCabe and enlisted his assistance in publicising Crosby’s poverty and raising funds to ameliorate that situation. After securing Crosby’s permission to solicit funds for her benefit, in June 1904 the religious press (including The Christian Advocate), carried McCabe’s request for money for Crosby under the heading "Fanny Crosby in Need".Blumhofer (2005), p. 323. McCabe indicated that "her hymns have never been copyrighted in her own name, she has sold them for small sums to the publishers who hold the copyright themselves, and the gifted authoress has but little monetary reward for hymns that have been sung all over the world".Charles Cardwell McCabe, in Edith L. Blumhofer, Her Heart Can See: The Hymns and Life of Fanny Crosby (Wm. B. Eerdmans, 2005):323. By July 1904 newspapers reported that Crosby’s publishers had issued a statement denying Crosby was in need of funds, and indicated she never would be "as they have provided abundantly for her during her entire life", and that "Bishop McCabe, who issued an appeal for assistance for Miss Crosby has been grossly deceived by somebody"."Fanny Crosby Does Not Need Aid", Newburgh Daily Journal (Newburgh, NY) (July 2, 1904):2. In response to Bishop McCabe’s fundraising on her behalf, Crosby also wrote a letter to him which was published at her instigation, which permitted him to solicit funds from her friends as "a testimonial of their love", but reiterated that she was not living in poverty, nor was she dying or in poor health.Ruffin (1976), pp. 212–213. After Crosby and her representatives contacted him, a week later, McCabe wrote to The Christian Advocate explaining his rationale for raising funds for Crosby, but that he was now withdrawing the appeal at her request.The Christian Advocate 79 (Hunt & Eaton, 1904):1111.