Johnston, Mary, 1870-1936Alternative names
Mary Johnston was born November 21, 1870 in Buchanan, Virginia to Elizabeth Alexander Johnston from Moorefield, West Virginia and John W. Johnston, lawyer and railway executive, of Botetourt County, Virginia. Mary Johnston, the oldest of six children, was followed by Eloise Johnston, Anne Johnston, John Johnston, Walter Johnston, and Elizabeth Johnston; the first and last two siblings lived most of their adult lives with Mary Johnston until her death, and they are mentioned frequently in these papers. The family moved to Birmingham, Alabama in 1886 and, except for a brief period spent in New York City around 1893 remained in Birmingham until 1902 when they moved to Richmond, Virginia. Elizabeth Alexander Johnston died in 1889 soon after the birth of her last child. John W. Johnston, a Confederate soldier and cousin to General Joseph E. Johnston, died in 1905, and soon thereafter Mary Johnston became critically ill, hovering close to death for nearly a year. Although she recovered and lived until 1936, she was plagued with horrible headaches and ill health most of her life. In 1912 Mary Johnston and Eloise Johnston bought land and built a home, "Three Hills," in Warm Springs, Virginia; this remained the Johnston family home until Elizabeth Johnston's death in the 1960's. Mary Johnston was not formally educated but apparently did a great deal of undirected reading in her youth, particularly of literature, history, philosophy, and science. She loved nature and, as a young adult, travelled frequently in Europe. She began writing in 1893, and her novel, Prisoner of Hope,which appeared in 1898, was her first publication. Houghton, Mifflin and Co. published her novels until she changed to Harpers in 1918; in 1922 she moved to Little-Brown and Co. Her literary agent was Carl Brandt. Mary Johnston published twenty-three novels--the earlier ones such as To Have and To Hold, Audrey, Sir Mortimer, Lewis Rand,and The Long Roll were the most popular--one play, The Goddess of Reason; one historical work, The Pioneers of the Old South; and numerous short stories. In addition to her literary and feminist activities, Mary Johnston was a self-declared pacifist in World War I and worked for peace through various organizations. She also had a great interest in socialism, although she never joined the Socialist Party. In later years she studied theosophy with much enthusiasm.
From the description of Papers of Mary Johnston [manuscript], 1898-1936. (University of Virginia). WorldCat record id: 647897754
From the description of Letters of Mary Johnston [manuscript], 1899-1915. (University of Virginia). WorldCat record id: 647835565
From the description of Papers of Mary Johnston, 1913-1914. (University of Virginia). WorldCat record id: 32959040
American novelist from Virginia.
From the description of Autograph letters signed (9) : Three Hills, Warm Springs, Virginia, to Edward Wagenknecht, 1931-1935. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270864393
From the description of Quest : typescript of her last (unfinished) novel : New York, [n.d.]. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270868313
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