Héloïse Durant Rose

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Héloïse Durant Rose
Héloïse Durant, from an 1892 publication
Héloïse Durant, from an 1892 publication
BornHéloïse Hannah Durant
c. 1853
New York City, U.S.
Died (aged 90)
St. Petersburg, Florida, U.S.

Héloïse Durant Rose, from a 1908 publication.

Héloïse Durant Rose (c. 1853 – March 20, 1943) was an American poet, playwright and critic.

Early life[edit]

Héloïse Hannah "Ella" Durant was born in New York City, the daughter of Thomas C. Durant and Héloïse Hannah Timbrell Durant. Her father was a Union Pacific Railroad executive. Her mother was born in England and immigrated to the United States as a child. Héloïse the younger was educated in Europe.


Writing and literary activities[edit]

Books by Durant Rose include Pine Needles, or Sonnets and Songs (1884),[1] Dante: A Dramatic Poem (1892),[2] and A Ducal Skeleton (a novel, 1899).[3] She wrote short stories for newspapers including the New York Times,[4] and more than a dozen plays, among them a "comedietta" called Our Family Motto, or Noblesse Oblige that was produced in London in 1889 at a hospital fundraiser,[5] She acted in French in her own play, Un Héros de la Vendée, in London in 1889.[5]

Her play about the life of Dante was translated into Italian[6] and produced in Verona in 1908.[7][8] In 1917 Héloïse Durant Rose founded the Dante League of America, in New York City.[9][10] The District of Columbia League of American Penwomen honored Durant Rose in 1921 for her work promoting Dante.[11]


Durant was involved in work to give women students more access to classes and examinations at Columbia University in the 1880s. She was founder and chair of the International Association for Housing Students and Travelers from 1912 to 1914.[12][13][14]

Héloïse Durant trained as a nurse while she was living in London, and worked caring for poor patients in the city.[15] In 1898 she headed a theatrical fundraiser for the First New York Ambulance Red Cross Equipment Society, which included her own play By the King's Command along with other tableaux and performances.[16]

Lawsuits against brother[edit]

Architect William West Durant was Héloïse Durant Rose's only brother. She sued him many times for over forty years, for her portion of their father's estate.[17] The legal battle was reported in detail in newspapers.[18] She even had him arrested in 1898.[19] By the time the courts ruled in her favor, [15] William Durant had spent much of the money. He declared bankruptcy in 1904, and in 1905 she sued him again, for misappropriation of funds.[20] In 1916 and 1926, she sued him again, because she still had not received her portion.[21]

Personal life and legacy[edit]

Rose married twice. Her first husband was Arthur Frethey, a medical student she met in London; she was widowed when he died, just six weeks after their 1891 wedding. She married a Danish man, Charles Heinrich Marcus Rose, in 1895.[15] She had one son, Timbrell Durant Rose (1896-1962). She and Charles moved to St. Petersburg, Florida by 1932,[22] where she was widowed in 1937, and died in 1943, aged about 90 years.[23] A collection of her letters is archived in the Special Collections Research Center, Syracuse University.[24]

Author Sheila Myers wrote a trilogy of novels, Imaginary Brightness, Castles in the Air, and The Night is Done, based on the Durant family, with Ella Durant as one of the main characters.[25]


  1. ^ Pine Needles; or, Sonnets and Songs (G. P. Putnam's Sons 1884).
  2. ^ Héloïse Durant, Dante: A Dramatic Poem (Lamley 1892).
  3. ^ Héloïse Durant Rose, A Ducal Skeleton (F. T. Neely 1899).
  4. ^ Héloïse Durant Rose, "A Danae in Sabots" New York Times (June 11, 1899): 30. via Newspapers.comopen access
  5. ^ a b "Our Omnibus-Box" The Theater (April 1, 1889): 234-235.
  6. ^ "Events of the Month" The World To-day (February 1909): 133-134.
  7. ^ "A Famous Woman Playwright" New Broadway Magazine (June 1908): 376-377.
  8. ^ "'Dante' Play Well Received" New York Times (November 22, 1908): X7. via ProQuest
  9. ^ Héloïse Durant Rose, "A Letter from Queen Margherita" New York Times (December 6, 1917): 12. via ProQuest
  10. ^ "Dante Pageant on Friday" New York Times (June 12, 1921): 36. via ProQuest
  11. ^ "D. C. League of Penwomen to Honor Mrs. Durant Rose" Evening Star (September 4, 1921): 25. via Newspapers.comopen access
  12. ^ Héloïse Durant Rose, "Our Students Abroad" New York Times (January 22, 1914): 10. via ProQuest
  13. ^ Lydia Dwight Day, "Lodgings for Young People" New York Times (December 30, 1912): 6. via ProQuest
  14. ^ "To Help House Students" New York Times (November 12, 1912): 4. via ProQuest
  15. ^ a b c "Victory for Her at Last" Los Angeles Herald (March 11, 1900): 3. via California Digital Newspaper Collectionopen access
  16. ^ "To Equip a War Ambulance" New York Times (June 5, 1898): 22. via ProQuest
  17. ^ "Mrs. Rose Sues Again" New York Times (April 3, 1898): 13.
  18. ^ "Rose-Durant Suit" New York Times (January 7, 1899): 12. via ProQuest
  19. ^ "W. W. Durant Arrested" New York Times (July 2, 1898): 12. via ProQuest
  20. ^ "Durant Administrator Out" New York Times (May 17, 1905): 1. via ProQuest
  21. ^ "Pioneer's Children Renew Old Lawsuit" New York Times (March 17, 1926): 18. via ProQuest
  22. ^ Héloïse Durant Rose, "City Manager Does Well" New York Times (July 17, 1932): E2. via ProQuest
  23. ^ "Heloise Rose, Dramatist, Dies" Tampa Bay Times (March 22, 1943): 1. via Newspapers.comopen access
  24. ^ "Heloise Durant Rose Letters; An inventory of her letters at Syracuse University" Syracuse University Libraries, Special Collections Research Center.
  25. ^ Sheila Myers, "Who Was Heloise Durant Rose?" Durant Family Blog blog (February 1, 2017).