Friday, August 10, 2007

#230 The Other Mary Johnston

Through the years, Virginia has been home to a few authors. You may have heard of some of them – Poe, Jefferson, Grisham, Wolfe.

And, I'm sure, you’ve heard of the Virginia novelist Mary Johnston!

She lived from 1870 to 1936 and wrote more than 20 novels – about colonial Virginia, about romance, and about the Civil War.
  • During WWII, Dwight Eisenhower said "if I want to read military tactics for pleasure, I choose to read Mary Johnston."
  • To Have and to Hold was the best-selling novel in the US in 1900 and was twice made into a film.
  • Old Dominion is the only book we know for sure was in the Titanic's library.
Long ago, when I had long hair and married into Mary Johnston’s name, I started reading her books.
And this week, to celebrate our Virginia home, I read Audrey, a romance of adventure set in 1720s Virginia. Her language keeps me turning to the dictionary (for coign, contumacy, paladin, regnant…), but I very much enjoy reading about the customs of colonial life here in the Old Dominion.

Yours in learning new words, learning about Virginia, and learning about my namesake,
Mary Johnston

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