Discovering a New Author by Cheri Struble

I am so pleased to share with you today this guest post by Cheri Struble!  Recently Cheri told me about this new-to-me author and I asked her to try and put her enthusiasm down on paper.  Enjoy this post and leave Cheri a comment at the end. 
Iris Noble (1922-1986)
I first met Iris Noble quite by accident. I say met, but it was many years after she died. That is the way we think and feel about our favorite authors, isn’t it? I think so fondly of my friend and mentor Miss Mason that in my head my thoughts always address her as simply “Charlotte”. I met Ms. Noble just by happenstance in a box of cast off books from a friend. I can’t even remember what else was in the box, but I’m quite the softy for hand- me-down books. What some consider a culled book, I consider a treasure!

This was a Messner biography called John Hunter, Master Surgeon. It felt and looked like a nice book. I placed it on my shelf of science biographies and didn’t think of it again until my oldest daughter read it and was quite excited about it. But I still didn’t read it. I finally pulled it down when I was frustrated with a lack of good living science books, deciding to try it during our group morning time, without pre-reading it first. Everyone loved it and all ages were riveted. Dissection, body snatching, doctors taking over childbirth (gasp!), rival brothers, scientific research, romance, animals...well, I could go on and on. I thought, who is this Iris Noble? This is a living book! And the exciting part for me was that I discovered her without a book list. Maybe she had more books!

 A quick Google search didn’t reveal much about her—she didn’t even have a Wikipedia page. Born to American parents in Canada, Iris lived on a horse ranch until she was eleven. Then, the family moved back to the States and she lived in Oregon until graduating college. She was a secretary for a radio station and a publicity director for a dinner theatre. After she married, Noble moved to New York City where she began freelancing for magazines and then writing books. Aha! So she did have more books!  I asked the next best source for book information, my friend, Nancy, if she was familiar with her and what she could tell me about Iris. Even Nancy had not heard of her. But she did know about Messner biographies and that opened a big door for me—apparently Ms. Noble wrote quite a few of them.

I am pleased to say I am building a little collection of Iris Noble books and Messner biographies. I think my favorite Noble biography so far has been The Honor of Balboa. When I received the book, all I could remember from my scant education on explorers was that Balboa discovered the Pacific Ocean. I actually read it, not for any interest in Balboa, but for a pre-read for my students. I could not put it down! I had to pull out a map to track his exploration of Central America, whose geography I knew nothing about. It explained so much to me about Spanish culture, Columbus’s role in exploration and decline in popularity, and also the role of the Spaniards in the annihilation of the Native American populations. I knew that the Spanish brought disease to the Indians, what I did not realize was that it was the mass genocide that wiped them out. I was grieved by the horrors they inflicted. Iris helped me to understand the Spanish attitude about natives; they were not considered people, not human. They were not even treated as well as black slaves. Balboa was the only explorer who saw the Indians as people, taking and loving a native wife as well as making excellent policies with them. At the end, I gobbled that book up in a few hours—I just had to know what was going to happen to him, and it was a sad ending.

These books have inspired my students the same way. True stories are sometimes more exciting than fiction, and Iris Noble really brings that to life. I’ve also enjoyed her bio about Cleopatra (Egypt's Queen Cleopatra)and a fictional story based on Fort Ross, CA (Courage in Her Hands)  that would be a great state history read. I already love history, but as a good writer she makes it come to life in my imagination and more importantly in the imagination of my young students. And that is the definition of a living book.
 -Cheri Struble


  1. Cheri,

    Isn't it so fun to find amazing books that aren't on a specific book list? We love the Messner biographies, they are always our first recommends-approachable enough for young students and still captivating for older students (like us teachers!). Thanks for sharing your finds with us!


    1. I am so excited about them! I was not expecting to enjoy them so much myself!

  2. I always love hearing about new authors of living books; Cheri's enthusiasm is catching! Unfortunately, paperbackswap doesn't have any of her books listed, but one of the two library systems around here has at least one of her Messner biographies.

  3. Cheri,
    Thanks for sharing. I did some checking and it looks like MNLink with inter-library loan has many of her books. I will plan to check them out. It also looks like Alibris Books has many of them for under $5.00. Planning to see you at LER this Summer, without my baby this time. :)
    Heidi Buschbach

    1. That's great, Heidi! I am so looking forward to the LER and this time, I will have my baby in my arms!

  4. Thank you ever so much for sharing Cheri's discovery. Uncovering treasures among cast-off books is very special indeed...and sharing those surprises with friends is something to be cherished surely. An unfamiliar author...and the scent of unread pages in my future...how very exciting...

  5. I just purchased three of the four that you recommended,and I got them all for less than $20 from Alibris books. They look wonderful!

  6. Excellent! I'm so glad you' ve shared such a great collection. They are on my wish list!

  7. Cheri,

    Thank you so much for sharing your review of this author. I will be looking into more of the Messner books and specifically into Mrs. Noble's books in particular.

  8. Hello Nancy,
    This will be as an email versus a comment. (sorry) I am assuming you did not get my prior email regarding the CM conference in VA? It was sent on April 10, and the funny thing is I mentioned in the email that I knew you were busy so take your time when responding. Yet, it has been "some time", therefore, I do not think you received it. Is there any other manner of getting in touch with you? There might be something quirky about my computer and the email option you chose.


    1. Dear Cathy,
      I am so sorry that it has been difficult to reach me! No, I never did receive an email from you - I went back and searched my inbox. Thank you for checking again. Would you try and send just a short email to kellynk@msn.com once again? Let's see if it will work this time. I'll watch for it. Another option might be to message me on fb if you are on there.

      From joy to joy,

  9. Thank you so much for sharing a glimpse into the life and works of this very interesting author! I am always so curious in cases like these about their lives, what inspired them to write what they did, if anyone still personally remembers them. Did she have children? Why did she die in Mexico in 1986? It would be interesting to know! I found that her personal papers were donated to the University of Southern Mississippi. You can see the link for that resource here if interested:




  10. I don't know why I decided to google iris at this time, but for some reason she popped up in my head. Iris noble actually rented a room from my parents in Fairfield CT in the mid 70's. I was in high school at the time and thought her books were boring. I will have to rethink that now after reading these comments.

  11. Mary Ann, I'm so glad you commented! How fascinating! I wish I could have a cup of coffee with you and hear what you know about Iris. Her historical bios are my favorites so I hope you give them another try. Please share more if you can.