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Bertha’s apartment

I just discovered some new Horn Book history trivia.

While putting away some papers that have been piling up, I found a printout of Horn Book founder Bertha Mahony’s March 12, 1924 passport.


I’ve looked at it before, most recently when we needed to confirm her height (contemporaries’ accounts say she was under 5′, but her passport says 5′ 1″). This time, I happened to notice her home address: 15 Charles St. I Googled the address, found these photos on Zillow, and shared the info with the rest of the staff. We’ve all been imagining Bertha living here and planning our futures. Several of us covet her place, poky kitchen and all!


An apartment at 15 Charles St. in Boston. We don’t know which unit Bertha lived in.

She may have shared this one-bedroom apartment with her younger sister, Ruth, who was a social worker. It’s near the corner of Charles and Beacon streets, so Bertha had a pleasant 5-minute walk down Charles or through the park to get to the Bookshop for Boys and Girls at 270 Boylston St., facing the Public Garden.

Horn Book Magazine, October 1924Bertha needed a passport because earlier that year she and bookshop worker Elinor Whitney started talking about launching a magazine. Bertha thought a change of scene would broaden their perspectives, so they traveled in Britain and France from late April to early July, sightseeing and making plans. The first issue of The Horn Book was published in October.

Speaking of October and Horn Book history, we are planning to re-launch the Virtual History Exhibit on this site in October 10, 2016, celebrating the 100th anniversary of the opening of Bertha’s Bookshop.

In other real estate news, the NYC brownstone that Harriet the Spy supposedly lived in is on the market. Anyone have $4.95 million to spare?


Lolly Robinson About Lolly Robinson

Lolly Robinson is the creative director for The Horn Book, Inc. She has degrees in studio art and children's literature and teaches children's literature at Harvard University's Graduate School of Education. She has served on the Caldecott and Boston Globe-Horn Book Award committees and blogs for Calling Caldecott and Lolly's Classroom on this site.

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