Constance Cary Harrison

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Constance Cary Harrison
Constance Cary Harrison 001.jpg
BornConstance Fairfax Cary
April 25, 1843
Port Gibson, Mississippi, U.S.
DiedNovember 21, 1920(1920-11-21) (aged 77)
Washington, D.C., U.S.
Resting placeIvy Hill Cemetery, Alexandria, Virginia
Pen nameRefugitta
Occupationauthor
LanguageEnglish
Genreplays, novels
Spouse
Burton Harrison (m. 1867)

Constance Cary Harrison (pen name, Refugitta; April 25, 1843 – November 21, 1920), also referred as Mrs. Burton Harrison, was an American author of plays and novels. She and two of her cousins were known as the "Cary Invincibles"; the three sewed the first examples of the Confederate Battle Flag.

Harrison belonged to an old Virginia family related to the Fairfaxes and Jeffersons. Her home was destroyed during the American Civil War and consequently she witnessed much of the horrors of that struggle. After its close, she accompanied her mother to Europe and while in France. Upon her return to the United States, She married Burton Harrison, a lawyer and American democratic politician, who was at one time the Secretary of President Jefferson Davis. They moved to New York in 1876, and there she began her literary life. Harrison's first magazine article was A Little Centennial Lady, which attracted much attention, and thereafter, she wrote a great deal.[1]

Few literary women in New York were better known at the time, her home a social and literary center. She produced several plays, chiefly adaptations from the French. The work that probably gained her more reputation abroad was The Anglomaniacs, which appeared in The Century without her name. It ranked her at once among the best of the novelists. Some of her other works included, Golden Rod, The Story of Helen Troy, Woman's Handiwork in Modern Houses, Old-Fashioned Fairy Book, Bric-a-Brac Stories, Flower de Hundred, Miy Lord Fairfax of Greenway Court, The Homes and Haunts of Washington, The Russian Honeymoon, Sweet Bells Out of Tune, A Daughter of the South and Other Tales, Bar Harbor Days, and An edelweiss of the Sierras, Golden-rod, and other tales.[1]

Life[edit]

Constance Fairfax Cary was born at Port Gibson, Mississippi,[2] April 25, 1843 (or 1846) into a planter aristocrat family, to Archibald Cary and Monimia Fairfax. Archibald Cary was the son of Wilson Jefferson Cary and Virginia Randolph.[3] Monimia Fairfax was the daughter of Thomas Fairfax, 9th Lord Fairfax of Cameron, and Margaret Herbert who was the granddaughter of John Carlyle and Sarah Fairfax. Her brother was Clarence Cary, who was prominent in New York society.[4] Archibald Cary was a subscriber to the Monticello Graveyard (1837).[5] They lived at Cumberland, Maryland, where he was editor of its leading newspaper, The Cumberland Civilian. When he died in 1854, her mother, Monimia, moved the family, in with her grandmother at Vaucluse Plantation in Fairfax County, Virginia, until the outbreak of the Civil War.[6]

Civil War years[edit]

After the seizure of Vaucluse and its demolition (to construct Fort Worth, as a part of the defenses of Washington, D.C.) she lived in Richmond, Virginia during the American Civil War and moved in the same set as Varina Davis, Mary Boykin Chesnut, and Virginia Clay-Clopton. She was published in Southern magazines under the pen name "Refugitta."[7]

Constance Cary lived with her Baltimore cousins, Hetty and Jennie; her mother served as the girls' chaperone. The three young ladies became known as the "Cary Invincibles."[8] In September 1861, they sewed the first examples of the Confederate Battle Flag following a design created by William Porcher Miles and modified by General Joseph E. Johnston. According to her own account, one flag was given to General Joseph E. Johnston, one to Confederate general P. G. T. Beauregard, and hers to Confederate general Earl Van Dorn.[9] Later during the war, she assisted her mother as a nurse at Camp Winder.[10]

She later met Burton Harrison (1838–1904), a private secretary for Confederate President Jefferson Davis, and helped win his release from Fort Delaware after the war's end.

After the war[edit]

Harrison and her mother spent the winter of 1865 in Paris before returning to New York City in 1866. She and Burton Harrison were married on November 26, 1867, at St. Anne's Church, in Westchester County, New York. Their wedding breakfast was at Morrisania, the country home of her uncle, Gouverneur Morris.[11] Burton Harrison held various public offices while Constance spent her time writing and being involved in the city's social scene.[2] They were the parents of Fairfax Harrison (March 13, 1869 - February 2, 1938), who was a President of the Southern Railway Company, and Francis Burton Harrison (December 13, 1873- November 22, 1957), who served as a Governor-General of the Philippines.

Among her other contributions to American literature, Constance Cary Harrison persuaded her friend Emma Lazarus to donate a poem to the fundraising effort to pay for a pedestal for the Statue of Liberty.[12]

In 1871, the Harrisons first visited Bar Harbor, Mount Desert Island, Maine, staying at the cottage of Captain Royal George Higgins.[13] Sometime in the 1880s, they commissioned Arthur Rotch of the architectural firm Rotch & Tilden to build a seaside cottage called Sea Urchins, with a garden designed by Beatrix Farrand.[14] The property now is owned by the College of the Atlantic, transformed into Deering Common, student center.[15] Sea Urchins was the center of hospitality during the "Gilded Age" in Bar Harbor and she entertained many noted visitors there, including friend and neighbor James G. Blaine, who lived at Stanwood. The Harrisons' winter home was a mansion on East 29th Street, New York.[11]

Constance Cary Harrison died in Washington, D.C., in 1920, at the age of 77. She is buried in Ivy Hill Cemetery, Alexandria, Virginia.

Works[edit]

The works of Constance Cary Harrison include:

Magazine articles and stories[edit]

  • Harrison, Constance Cary (July 1876). "A Little Centennial Lady". Scribner's Monthly. 12 (3): 301–312. Retrieved 2008-11-28.
  • Harrison, Constance Cary (September 1879). "My Lord Fairfax of Virginia". Scribners Monthly. 18 (5): 715–728. Retrieved 2008-11-28.
  • Harrison, Constance Cary (July 1882). "An Edelweiss of the Sierras". Harper's New Monthly Magazine. 65 (385): 116–123. Retrieved 2008-11-28.
  • Harrison, Constance Cary (Feb 1883). "Old Valentines". The Century; A Popular Quarterly. 25 (4): 631–632. Retrieved 2008-11-28.
  • Harrison, Constance Cary (Mar 1883). "American Children at Home and in Society". The Century; A Popular Quarterly. 25 (5): 796. Retrieved 2008-11-28.
  • Harrison, Constance Cary (Mar 1885). "A House Built Upon Sand". Harper's New Monthly Magazine. 70 (418): 542–549. Retrieved 2008-11-28.
  • Harrison, Constance Cary (Aug 1885). "A Virginia Girl in the First Year of the War". The Century; A Popular Quarterly. 30 (4): 606–615. Retrieved 2008-12-05.
  • Harrison, Constance Cary (Apr 1889). "Washington at Mount Vernon after the Revolution". The Century; A Popular Quarterly. 37 (6): 834–850. Retrieved 2008-11-28.
  • Harrison, Constance Cary (Apr 1889). "Washington in New York in 1789". The Century; A Popular Quarterly. 37 (6): 850–860. Retrieved 2008-11-28.
  • Harrison, Constance Cary (June 1891). "Colonel William Byrd of Westover, Virginia". The Century; A Popular Quarterly. 42 (2): 163–179. Retrieved 2008-11-28.
  • Harrison, Constance Cary (Feb 1893). "Sweet Bells Out of Tune". The Century; A Popular Quarterly. 45 (4): 499–507. Retrieved 2008-11-28.
  • Harrison, Constance Cary (May 1895). "An Errant Wooing". The Century; A Popular Quarterly. 50 (1): 133–144. Retrieved 2008-11-28.
  • Harrison, Constance Cary (July 1895). "American Rural Festivals". The Century; A Popular Quarterly. 50 (3): 323–333. Retrieved 2008-11-28.
  • Harrison, Constance Cary (January 1896). "A Study in Husbands". The North American Review. 162 (470): 108–113. Retrieved 2008-11-28.

Dramatic literature[edit]

  • Two Strings to Her Bow (1884)
  • The Mouse Trap (1886)
  • Weeping Wives (1886)
  • Behind a Curtain (1887)
  • Tea at Four O'Clock (1887)

Other prose[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Rutherford 1894, p. 644.
  2. ^ a b "Mrs. Constance Cary Harrison," in Raymond, Ida; Mary Tardy (1870). Southland Writers: Biographical and Critical Sketches of the Living Female Writers of the South. With Extracts from Their Writings, Vol. 2. Claxton, Remsen & Haffelfinger. p. 775.
  3. ^ Pecquet du Bellet, Louise; Edward Jaquelin; Martha Cary Jaquelin (1907). Some Prominent Virginia Families, Vol. 2. Bell. p. 81.
  4. ^ "DIED. Cary". The New York Times. 29 August 1911. Retrieved 21 March 2018.
  5. ^ McMurdo Whitemore, Madeline. "The Monticello Graveyard 1837–1883". The Monticello Association. Archived from the original on September 27, 2008. Retrieved 2009-03-16.
  6. ^ Pecquet du Bellet, Louise; Edward Jaquelin; Martha Cary Jaquelin (1907). Some Prominent Virginia Families, Vol. 2. Bell. p. 180.
  7. ^ Gaillynn M., Bowman (2003). "Constance Cary Harrison, Refugitta of Richmond: A Nineteenth-Century Southern Woman Writer's Critically Intriguing Antislavery Narrative Strategy" (PDF). Marshall College. Retrieved 2009-03-16.
  8. ^ Scott Reynolds Nelson, ed. (1995). "Catherine Elizabeth Townsend". Antebellum Richmond: Angels of the Confederacy. College of William and Mary. Archived from the original on 2008-09-08. Retrieved 2009-03-16.
  9. ^ Constance Cary Harrison, "Virginia Scenes in '61," in Johnson, Robert Underwood; Clarence Clough Buel (1887–1888). Battles and Leaders of the Civil War, Vol. 1. New York: Century. pp. 160–166. 165.
  10. ^ Harrison, Constance Cary (1911). Recollections Gay and Grave. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons. p. 182.
  11. ^ a b "Miss Burton Harrison". Famous Women Authors. 1901. Retrieved 2009-03-16.
  12. ^ Harrison, Recollections Grave and Gay, 314.
  13. ^ Harrison, Recollections Grave and Gay, 349.
  14. ^ http://www.coa.edu/assets/landscapemasterplan07/sitehistory.pdf[permanent dead link]
  15. ^ https://www.coa.edu/html/pressreleases_572.htm

Bibliography[edit]

External links[edit]