Nan Britton

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Nan Britton
Born Nan P. Nanny Britton
(1896-11-09)November 9, 1896
Marion, Ohio, U.S.
Died March 21, 1991(1991-03-21) (aged 94)
Clackamas County, Oregon, U.S.
Occupation Secretary
Children Elizabeth Ann Blaesing
Relatives Elizabeth Britton (sister)

Nan P. "Nanny" Britton (November 9, 1896 – March 21, 1991) was a figure associated with the Presidency of Warren G. Harding because she publicly claimed in 1928 that Harding had fathered her illegitimate daughter shortly before his election as President in 1920.

Born in 1896 in Marion, Ohio, Britton developed an obsession with Harding, a friend of her father. As a young girl, her bedroom walls were covered with Harding's pictures from local papers and magazines. While not even 16 years old, she would loiter near his Marion Daily Star building in Marion, Ohio, hoping to see him on his walk home from work.

Nan's father, Dr. Britton, spoke to Harding about his daughter's infatuation, and Harding met with her, claiming he told her that some day she would find the man of her dreams. At the time, Harding was already involved in a passionate affair with Carrie Fulton Phillips, wife of James Phillips, co-owner of a local department store. After she graduated from high school in 1914, Britton moved to New York City, to begin a career as a secretary. However, she claimed she also began an intimate relationship with Warren G. Harding.

Following Harding's death, Britton wrote what is considered to be the first kiss-and-tell book. In The President's Daughter, published in 1928, she claimed she had been Harding's mistress all during his presidency, naming him as the father of her daughter, Elizabeth Ann (1919–2005). One famous passage told of their making love in a coat closet in the executive office of the White House.

According to Britton, Harding had promised to support their daughter, but after his sudden death in 1923, his wife refused to honor the obligation. Britton insisted she wrote the book to earn money to the support her daughter and to champion the rights of illegitimate children. She brought a lawsuit (Britton v. Klunk), but she was unable to provide any concrete evidence and was shaken by the vicious personal attacks made by Congressman Grant Mouser during the cross examination, which cost her the case.[1]

Britton's memoirs seem sincere, but her portrayal of Harding and his colloquialisms paints a picture of a crude womanizer. In his 1931 book Only Yesterday: An Informal History of the 1920s, Frederick Lewis Allen wrote 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'." Britton's 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."

Nan Britton died in 1991 in Clackamas County, Oregon, at the age of 94. She insisted to the very last that Warren G. Harding was the father of her daughter.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Carl Sferraza Anthony, author of Florence Harding, wrote that court transcripts in Toledo, Ohio, show that Mouser referred to Britton as a "degenerate and pervert", then "brought (Florence Kling Harding) in by using Warren's 'love of his good wife' against a 'distorted ... deranged ... demented ... diabolical' Nan who had no respect for the marriage tie ..."

Sources[edit]

  • 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

External links[edit]