Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Birth Dates of Notable Kentuckians: March 15, 1863 - Annie Fellows Johnston

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From The Kentucky Encyclopedia -
Annie (Fellows) Johnston, author of popular children's books, was the daughter of the Rev. Albion and Mary (Erskine) Fellows, born on May 15, 1863, in Evansville, Indiana. She attended Evansville Public School, where she taught for one term before attending the University of Iowa in 1881-82. She returned to her teaching position in Evansville for three years and then worked as a stenographer. On October 11, 1888, she married her second cousin, William L. Johnston, a widower with three children, Mary, Rena, and John. During her marriage Johnston wrote short stories for her stepchildren, which were occasionally published in various children's magazines. After William Johnston died in 1892, she began to write children's novels to support her family. Her first work, Big Brother, was published in 1893.
In 1894, on a trip to Pewee Valley, Oldham County , Kentucky, Johnston was inspired to write The Little Colonel (1895). The series of eleven novels that followed, most of them set in Pewee Valley, were among the most popular children's literature of the time. For many Little Colonel fans, the community of Pewee Valley nearly became a shrine. Her romanticized children's novels were translated into several foreign languages. In her thirty-six-year career Johnston wrote thirty-eight books, most of them loosely based on actual places and people. Through her vivid imagination, keen observation, and memories of her own childhood, she created charming characters of high integrity who encounter situations where simple virtues and good intentions always triumph. A minor character in the series, Mary Ware, became the protagonist in another series of novels. Johnston's novels idealized attitudes and a way of life that appealed to contemporary sentimental tastes.
Johnston and her stepchildren moved to Pewee Valley in 1898. Rena died in 1901. The family moved to the Southwest in 1901 for John's health, living in Arizona, California, and Texas. John died in 1910, and Johnston and Mary returned to Pewee Valley. She purchased a home, the Beeches, where she lived and worked until her death on October 5, 1931. Johnston was buried in Evansville, Indiana.

Selected Sources from UK Libraries:

Duffy, Dennis. Four Colonels, Two of Them Small, with Six Arms among Them : The Ideal, American World of Annie Fellows Johnston's "Little Colonel" Series. Lexington, KY?]: [s.n.], 1980. Print.
PS3519.O3 Z46, Special Collections Research Center

Johnston, Annie F. Georgina of the Rainbows. New York: Grosset & Dunlap, 1916. Beyond the Shelf, Serving Historic Kentuckiana through Virtual Access (IMLS LG-03-02-0012-02) ; B92-237-31299377. Web.
F J641ge, Special Collections Research Center - Fiction Collection

McGuire, Sue Lynn. The Little Colonel : A Phenomenon in Popular Literary Culture. Frankfort: Kentucky Historical Society, 1991. Print.
PS3519.O3 Z460, Special Collections Research Center

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