James Lane Allen (December 21, 1849 – February 18, 1925) was an American novelist and short story writer whose work, including the novel A Kentucky Cardinal, often depicted the culture and dialects of his native Kentucky. His work is characteristic of the late-19th century local color era, when writers sought to capture the vernacular in their fiction. Allen has been described as "Kentucky's first important novelist."
Allen was born near Lexington, Kentucky, and his youth there during the Ante-bellum, Civil War, and Reconstruction periods heavily influenced his writing. He graduated from Transylvania University in 1872, delivering the Salutatorian address in Latin. In 1893 Allen moved to New York City, where he lived until his death. He was a contributor to Harper's Magazine, The Atlantic Monthly, and other popular magazines of the time. Allen is buried in Lexington Cemetery.
At the northern edge of Gratz Park in Lexington is the "Fountain of Youth", built in memory of Allen using proceeds willed to the city by him.
A Kentucky Cardinal was the third novel by American writer, James Lane Allen; and was produced in 1894 as the first of the A Kentucky Cardinal series. The Cardinal is the State Bird of Kentucky.
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