Christian Reid

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Frances Christine Fisher Tiernan
Christian Reid.jpg
BornFrances Christine Fisher
July 5, 1846
Salisbury, North Carolina, U.S.
DiedMarch 24, 1920(1920-03-24) (aged 73)
Salisbury, North Carolina
Resting placeChestnut Hill Cemetery, Salisbury, North Carolina
Pen nameChristian Reid
Alma materSt. Mary's College
Genrenovels, short stories
Notable worksThe Land of the Sky
Notable awardsLaetare Medal
James Marquis Tiernan
(m. 1887; died 1898)

Frances Christine Fisher Tiernan (pen name, Christian Reid; July 5, 1846 – March 24, 1920) was an American author who wrote over 50 novels, most notably The Land of the Sky.

In 1870, Tiernan published her first novel, Valerie Aylmer. In the following year, she published in Appletons' Journal a novel entitled Morton House, a story of Southern life. Tiernan considered it to be her best work. In 1887, she married James M. Tiernan, of Maryland, and accompanied him to Mexico where he had mining interests. There, she collected material for her novel, The Land of the Sun, and some Mexican short stories, notably The Pictures of Las Cruces, which appeared in Lippincott's Monthly Magazine, and which was translated and published in L'Illustration of Paris. After her husband's death in 1898, Tiernan made her home in New York City, but later returned to Salisbury, North Carolina, living in the same house in which she was born. One of the best of her novels, The Land of the Sky, was set in western North Carolina. Though she never made a claim to being a poet, some of her verses were published.[1]

In 1909, Tiernan was awarded the Laetare Medal by the University of Notre Dame, in Indiana. This medal is given annually to a lay member of the Catholic Church for distinguished services in literature, art, science, or philosophy. Tiernan's receipt of the medal was the first when it was awarded to a Southerner.[1]

Early years and education[edit]

Frances Fisher was born in Salisbury, North Carolina.[2] Her parents were Colonel Charles Frederick Fisher and his wife, the former Elizabeth Clarissa Caldwell. Her mother had converted to become a Catholic; her father an Episcopalian. Colonel Fisher, was killed in the beginning of the American Civil War at the battle of Manassas, and his daughter remained loyal to his Confederate ideals to the end.[3] The mother having died during Tiernan's infancy, their three children became orphans, raised by a Catholic maiden aunt. The Fisher family was rich, but the war caused the family to lose much of its money. The family lived at the northwest corner of Fulton and Innes Streets in Salisbury, North Carolina.[4] As a child of three or four, before she had learned to form her letters, Frances would spin out long tales of fanciful invention, which she persuaded her aunt to transcribe.[5]

She received her early instruction from a maiden aunt, Miss Christine Reid, and as soon as she was old enough was sent to St. Mary's College, (now Saint Mary's School) in Raleigh, North Carolina. But her education was completed under the instruction of her aunt.[1]


The nom de plume, Christian Reid, which the family did not like, was said to have been taken from Christian, a family name on the mother's side, and Reid on her father's.[2][6] The first article with this pseudonym was accepted by Appletons' Journal and a check for US$50 sent to "Christian Reid." Being in a dilemma as to how to cash the check, she sought advice from her lawyer. He advised her to make it payable to him to avoid detection. Later, a member of the Appleton's firm wished to see the author as he passed through North Carolina, and could not discover such a person in Salisbury. He questioned the postmaster, who said probably Mr. Reid was related to the Fishers and had perhaps been visiting them, as his mail was sent their. Fisher confided to the postmaster about her pseudonymous name.[7]

Valerie Aylmer

She wrote stories, but it was not until the end of the war, when the family found itself without fortune, that she conceived an idea. "I shall write a novel," was greeted with amused skepticism. The publication of Valerie Aylmer in 1870 was an instant success. While it was faulty and immature; it possessed the charm of interest. Tosay it is of interest for its portrayal of life and conduct in the South, as reflected through the temperament of a sentimental, young lady of distinguished birth.[5]

The first period of Christian Reid's literary activities comprises the decade from 1869 to 1879. Most notable of the works of this period are the novels, Morton House (1871), A Daughter of Bohemia (1874), and A Question of Honor (1875). The most noteworthy book of Christian Reid's early years as a novelist, judged on the strength of its results, was the slight travel-sketch, entitled The Land of the Sky, which was published in 1876. In this book, read by hundreds of thousands of people, Christian Reid accomplished the most notable commemoration of a section of the US ever published in North Carolina.[5] Southern Railway, after extending a line to Asheville around 1880, used “The Land of the Sky" in advertising.[8]

Miss Churchill

A distinct accession of power and increased mastery of style marked the works of Christian Reid's second period of literary activity, beginning after her return from Europe in 1880. Heart of Steel was a work approximating that of the standard English novelists, such as Anthony Trollope, in solidity of workmanship and concentration of purpose. Other works of this period were Armine, Roslyn's Fortune, The Child of Mary, Philip's Restitution, and Miss Churchill.[5]

When, in 1887, Miss Fisher married Mr. James Marquis Tiernan, of Maryland, and settled in Mexico, where her husband had extensive mining interests, there began the third period in Christian Reid's career as a novelist. Perhaps the story which, of all that she had ever written, contained more of the elements of general popularity and was at the same time most adequately written, was The Picture of Las Cruces. It had the distinction of being translated into French and appearing in L 'Illustration. The book was notable for the beauty of its envisagement of a semi-tropical land, the ideality of its poetic atmosphere, and the art displayed in the comparison and juxtaposition of the fragile romance of Mexico with the hardy realism of America. The Lady of Las Cruces, like most sequels was less a natural consequence of the former story, than a hazardous attempt to crown the story with a "happy" (and popular) ending. Other works of this period are: the travel-romance, The Land of the Sun (1894), one of her most interesting tales;,[9] as well as Carmela, Little Maid of Mexico, A Comedy of Elopement, A Woman of Fortune, Weighed in the Balance, and Carmen's Inheritance. In addition, there were two novels which stood as memorials of Christian Reid's travels in Santo Domingo: The Man of the Family and The Chase of an Heiress.[5]

A Summer Idyl

Christian Reid wrote at least two dramas, and quite a number of poems. The war-drama, Under the Southern Cross, was a stirring picture of the South during the American Civil War, and played to enthusiastic houses throughout the South. Its purport was to voice an impassioned presentation, fired by logic, of the views of the South upon the constitutional right of secession.[5][9] The other play, entitled Princess Nadine, appeared in print only as a novel. It was originally written as a play, which was rewritten in collaboration with Victor Mapes, and translated into Italian.[5] Most of her books were published by the Appletons, but a few, Roman Catholic in tone, such as Armine were brought out by the Catholic Publishing Company of New York.[9] Other works included, Mabel Lee, Ebb Tide, Nina's Atonement, A Gentle Belle, Hearts and Hands, After Many Days, Bonny Kate, A Summer Idyll, A Child of Mary.[2]

Some critics described Fisher's work as "a graceful, limpid style", "bland" and "sylvan romances".[10] Others described it as being striking in its naturalness and truthfulness.[11] One biography said "There is in her fiction an over-reliance on the picturesque that was popular in the years following the Civil War. Yet, her work stands apart from the many narratives of travel in Appalachia in its honest and realistic portrait of life in southern society."[10]

Personal life and legacy[edit]

Early in life, she was received into the Catholic Church by Cardinal James Gibbons, then only Vicar Apostolic of North Carolina. She practised her religion zealously and to her was mainly due the erection of a Catholic church in her native town.[9] Tiernan donated land for Sacred Heart Catholic Church, dedicated November 19, 1882.[6] In 1909, Fisher received the Laetare Medal by the University of Notre Dame.[12] At the time, she had been the author of some 30 novels and numerous short stories, and was living with her aunt, Miss Christine Fisher.[5]

She married James Marquis Tiernan (died January 1898) on December 29, 1887,[13] and they moved to Mexico where he had mining interests.[1][14] Fisher died March 24, 1920 in Salisbury, and is buried at Chestnut Hill Cemetery.[15] Because a fire destroyed some records in the 1930s, it is not certain which family member is buried where. In 2006, the entire family plot was enclosed by a brick wall, with materials and labor donated by the owners of Taylor Clay Products. A pink granite bench was added and a granite cross was restored.[6] The United Daughters of the Confederacy built a monument in 1939 on West Innes Street in Salisbury, which was moved in 1955 and again in 1983, this time to the Rowan Public Library. The Confederate Monument in Salisbury was paid for partly from the money Fisher made from The Land of the Sky.[4]

Selected works[edit]

  • A new Enoch Arden, n.d.
  • The land of the sun : vistas mexicanas
  • Gloria victis
  • 1870-78, Short stories
  • 1873, Carmen's inheritance
  • 1873, Nina's atonement : a story in six chapters
  • 1875, The story of a conspiracy
  • 1877, The mountain-region of North Carolina
  • 1877, A fairlyland of science
  • 1878, Striking the Flag! or, Valerie Aylmer. A Novel.
  • 1884, Armine
  • 1887, His victory
  • 1885, A child of Mary
  • 1888, Grace Morton; or, The inheritance, a Catholic tale
  • 1890, Philip's Restitution.
  • 1890, A cast for fortune : a story of Mexican life
  • 1891, A gentle belle. A novel.
  • 1891, Carmela
  • 1893, A little maid of Arcady
  • 1893, A comedy of elopement
  • 1893, Hearts and hands. A story in sixteen chapters
  • 1894, Le tableau de Las Cruces : roman
  • 1894, Kartina Vali︠a︡sket︠s︡a [sic]
  • 1894, The land of the sun : vistas mexicanas
  • 1895, Mabel Lee. A novel.
  • 1895, A summer idyl
  • 1895, Obraz w Las Cruces
  • 1895, The lady of Las Cruces
  • 1878, Bonny Kate : a novel
  • 1896, A woman of fortune
  • 1897, Fairy gold
  • 1898, The chase of an heiress
  • 1899, Ebb-tide, and other stories
  • 1900, To the Confederate veterans, who so nobly did their duty during the late unpleasantness between the states ...
  • 1900, Under the southern cross. A war drama in four acts.
  • 1900, Miss Churchill; a study.
  • 190?, Philip's restitution
  • 1873, Nina's atonement : and other stories
  • 1907, Véra's charge
  • 1907, Princess Nadine
  • 1909, The coin of sacrifice
  • 1909, Weighed in the balance
  • 1911, Cords of nature and In Miss Felicia's garden
  • 1910, Heart of steel; a novel
  • 1911, The light of the vision
  • 1911, The Wargrave trust
  • 1914, The testing of Isabel
  • 1914, A Far-away Princess
  • 1915, Noël : a Christmas story
  • 1920, The daughter of a star
  • 1903, A daughter of the Sierra


  1. ^ a b c d Brooks 1912, p. 138.
  2. ^ a b c Rutherford 1894, p. 647.
  3. ^ Herbermann 1922, p. 730.
  4. ^ a b "Other Civil War points of interest - Salisbury Post". Salisbury Post. 23 May 2011. Retrieved 21 June 2017.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h Henderson, Archibald (1910). "Christian Reid". The Sewanee Review. 18 (2): 223–232. JSTOR 27532374.
  6. ^ a b c Deirdre Parker Smith, "Christian Reid is not forgotten," Salisbury Post, March 25, 2006.
  7. ^ Rutherford 1894, p. 647-48.
  8. ^ Neufeld, Rob (September 22, 2019). "Visiting Our Past: Asheville promotions gained steam before the railroad". Asheville Citizen-Times. Retrieved September 22, 2019.
  9. ^ a b c d Herbermann 1922, p. 731.
  10. ^ a b "Christian Reid". D. H. Ramsey Library Special Collections, University of North Carolina at Asheville. Archived from the original on September 21, 2013. Retrieved September 18, 2013.
  11. ^ Rutherford 1894, p. 648.
  12. ^ "Frances Tieran (Christian Reid)". The Laetare Medal. University of Notre. Retrieved 21 June 2017.
  13. ^ Marquis Who's Who 1911, p. 1918.
  14. ^ "Marker: L-14". North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources. Retrieved September 5, 2013.
  15. ^ "Frances Christine "Christian Reid" Fisher Tiernan (1846 - 1920) - Find A Grave Memorial". Retrieved 22 June 2017.


External links[edit]