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Nan P. "Nanny" Britton (November 9, 1896 – March 21, 1991) was a figure associated with the Presidency of Warren G. Harding due to her claim that Harding fathered her illegitimate daughter shortly before his election as President.
Born in Marion, Ohio, Britton developed an obsession with Harding, a friend of her father. As a girl, her bedroom walls were covered with images of Harding from local papers and magazines. While still less than 16 years old, she would also dawdle near his Marion Daily Star building in downtown Marion, Ohio hoping to bump into him on his walk home from work.
Her father, Dr. Britton, talked to Harding about his daughter's infatuation, and in turn, Harding spoke with the girl, assuring her that one day she would find the man of her dreams. At the time, Harding was involved in a very passionate affair with Carrie Fulton Phillips, wife of James Phillips, co-owner of Marion's Uhler-Phillips Company, a local department store. Following her graduation from Marion High School in 1914, Britton moved to New York City, where she hoped to start a career as a secretary.
Following Harding's death in 1923, Britton wrote what is considered to be the first kiss-and-tell book, The President's Daughter, published in 1928. In it, she claimed to have been his mistress before and during his presidency, and that Harding was the father of her daughter, Elizabeth Ann (1919–2005), who was later adopted by Britton's husband, Mr. Christian. One famous passage mentions their making love in a coat closet in the executive office of the White House.
According to Britton, Harding had promised to support her daughter, but after his sudden death in 1923, Harding's family refused to acknowledge the obligation. The ostensible purpose of the book was to earn money for the support of her daughter, and to champion the rights of illegitimate children. Eventually, a lawsuit (Britton v. Klunk) was brought; however, Britton was unable to provide any concrete evidence and buckled under the cross-examination of former Marion U.S. Representative Grant Mouser, which cost her the case.
Britton's memoirs seemed sincere, but her portrayal of Harding and his colloquialisms—which she found charming—painted a picture of a crude womanizer. In his 1931 book Only Yesterday: An Informal History of the 1920s, Frederick Lewis Allen remarks that, on the testimony of Britton's book, Harding's private life was "one of cheap sex episodes" and that "one sees with deadly clarity the essential ordinariness of the man, the commonness of his 'Gee dearie' and 'Say, you darling'." The book was among those irreverently reviewed by Dorothy Parker for The New Yorker magazine as part of her famous Constant Reader column, under the title "An American DuBarry."
At the time of her death, aged 94, on March 21, 1991 in Clackamas County, Oregon, she was known as Nan P. Britton. She was always resolute that Harding was Elizabeth Ann's father.
- Author Carl Sferraza Anthony (Florence Harding, p. 530) writes that court transcripts in Toledo, Ohio (Lucas County Ohio), stated that Mouser referred to Britton as a "degenerate and pervert" before shifting the defense's argument that "Mouser brought (Florence Kling Harding) into the conflict using Warren's 'love of his good wife' against 'distorted ... deranged ... demented ... diabolical' Nan who had no respect for the marriage tie ..."
- Anthony, Carl Sferrazza. Florence Harding, William Morrow and Co., New York City, 1998, ISBN 0-688-07794-3
- Britton, Nan. The President's Daughter. Elizabeth Ann Guild, New York City, 1928 (reprinted 1973), ISBN 0-8369-7132-9.
- Dean, John; Schlesinger, Arthur M. Warren Harding (The American President Series), Times Books, 2004, ISBN 0-8050-6956-9
- Ferrell, Robert H. The Strange Death of President Harding, University of Missouri Press, 1996, ISBN 0-8262-1202-6
- Mee, Charles Jr. The Ohio Gang: The World of Warren G. Harding: A Historical Entertainment, M. Evans & Company, 1983, ISBN 0-87131-340-5
- Warren G. Harding Tries to Get Job for Nan Britton – Excessively Rare Documentation of Relationship: Original Letter Shapell Manuscript Foundation