Mary Johnston (November 21, 1870 – May 9, 1936) was an American novelist and women's rights advocate.
The daughter of an American Civil War soldier who became a successful lawyer, Mary Johnston was born in the small town of Buchanan, Virginia. A small and frail girl, she was educated at home by family and tutors. She grew up with a love of books and was financially independent enough to devote herself to writing.
Johnston wrote historical books and novels that often combined romance with history. Her first book Prisoners of Hope (1898) dealt with colonial times in Virginia as did her second novel To Have and to Hold (1900) and 1904's Sir Mortimer. The Goddess of Reason (1907) uses the theme of the French Revolution and in Lewis Rand (1908), the author portrayed political life at the dawn of the 19th century.
To Have and to Hold was serialized in the The Atlantic Monthly in 1899 and published in 1900 by Houghton Mifflin. The book proved enormously popular and according to the New York Times was the bestselling novel in the United States in 1900. Johnston's next work titled Audrey was the 5th bestselling book in the U.S. in 1902, as was Sir Mortimer in 1904. Beyond her native America, Johnston's novels were also very popular in Canada and in England.
Three of Johnston's books were adapted to film. Audrey was made into a silent film of the same name in 1916 and her blockbuster work To Have and to Hold was made into a silent film in 1918 and again in 1922. Pioneers of the Old South was adapted to film in 1923 under the title Jamestown.
During her long career, in addition to twenty-three novels, Johnston wrote a number of short stories, one drama, and two long narrative poems. She used her fame to advocate women's rights, strongly supporting the women's suffrage movement.
On her passing in 1936, Mary Johnston was interred in Hollywood Cemetery, Richmond, Virginia.
The valley lay like a ribbon thrown into the midst of the encompassing hills. The grass which grew there was soft and fine and abundant; the trees which sprang from its dark, rich mould were tall and great of girth. A bright stream flashed through it, and the sunshine fell warm upon the grass and changed the tassels of the maize into golden plumes. Above the valley, east and north and south, rose the hills, clad in living green, mantled with the purpling grape, wreathed morn and eve with trailing mist. To the westward were the mountains, and they dwelt apart in a blue haze. Only in the morning, if the mist were not there, the sunrise struck upon their long summits, and in the evening they stood out, high and black and fearful, against the splendid sky. The child who played beside the cabin door often watched them as the valley filled with shadows, and thought of them as a great wall between her and some land of the fairies which must needs lie beyond that barrier, beneath the splendor and the evening star. The Indians called them the Endless Mountains, and the child never doubted that they ran across the world and touched the floor of heaven.
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