Gladys Brown Ficke (1890-1973), the second wife of poet and novelist Arthur Davison Ficke (1883-1945) was a painter (oils and watercolors) and illustrator. The Fickes spent the winter of 1934-35 in Chapala. From late November 1934 to late April 1935, they rented a house with poet Witter Bynner and his partner Robert Hunt.
Under her maiden name, she drew the line drawings illustrating each chapter of her husband’s novel, Mrs Morton of Mexico (1939), including this one of Chapala:
Mrs Morton’s mature garden leading down to the lakeshore is the setting for several of the dramatic moments in the novel:
Chapter 11 is about a religious procession to the cemetery (campo santo) on the hillside:
Gladys Brown Ficke wrote a four-volume biography of her husband, and a novel, initially entitled The Bird in the Ice-box, but later renamed The Final Beauty. “The major characters of the novel are Nathalia Bradford (based on Phyllis Playter), Daxton Sillis (based on John Cowper Powys), and Edward Lucas (whose character seems suggested by Evans Rodgers).”  Neither book was ever published; both are in the Arthur Davison Ficke Papers at Yale University in the Yale Collection of American Literature, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library.
 Melvon L Lankeny. “Gladys Brown Ficke and The Final Beauty“, Powys Journal, 2003, Vol. 13, pp.95-119.
- Arthur Davison Ficke (1883-1945) and his 1939 novel about Chapala
- Mrs. Morton of Chapala (Ficke’s novel)
Sombrero Books welcomes comments, corrections or additional material related to any of the writers and artists featured in our series of mini-bios. Please email us or use the comments feature at the bottom of individual posts.
Tony Burton’s books include “Lake Chapala: A Postcard History” (2022), “Foreign Footprints in Ajijic” (2022), “If Walls Could Talk: Chapala’s historic buildings and their former occupants” (2020), (available in translation as “Si Las Paredes Hablaran”), “Mexican Kaleidoscope” (2016), and “Lake Chapala Through the Ages” (2008).