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.
"She will reach the wharf in half an hour."
The speaker shaded her eyes with a great fan of carved ivory and painted silk. They were beautiful eyes; large, brown, perfect in shape and expression, and set in a lovely, imperious, laughing face. The divinity to whom they belonged was clad in a gown of green dimity, flowered with pink roses, and trimmed about the neck and half sleeves with a fall of yellow lace. The gown was made according to the latest Paris mode, as described in a year-old letter from the court of Charles the Second, and its wearer gazed from under her fan towards the waters of the great bay of Chesapeake, in his Majesty's most loyal and well beloved dominion of Virginia.
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