This Goodly Land
Mary Johnston (November 21, 1870–May 9, 1936)
- Birmingham, Jefferson County: childhood residence, adult residence
- Johnston, Mary. Prisoners of Hope: A Tale of Colonial Virginia. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1898. Rpt. as The Old Dominion. London: Constable, 1899. Rpt. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1926. An online version of Prisoners of Hope is available from Google Books.
- Johnston, Mary. To Have and To Hold. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1900. Rpt. as By Order of the Company. London: Constable, 1900. Rpt. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1931. Rpt. as To Have and To Hold: A Tale of Providence and Perseverance in Colonial Jamestown. San Antonio, Texas: The Vision Forum, 2006. An online version of To Have and To Hold is available from Documenting the American South.
- Johnston, Mary. Lewis Rand. Boston, New York: Houghton Mifflin, The Riverside Press, 1908. Rpt. Boston, New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1929. An online version of Lewis Rand is available from Google Books.
- Johnston, Mary. The Long Roll. Illus. N. C. Wyeth. Boston, Cambridge: Houghton Mifflin, Riverside Press, 1911. Rpt. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1939. Rpt. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996. An online version of The Long Roll is available from Google Books.
- Johnston, Mary. Cease Firing. Illus. N. C. Wyeth. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1912. Rpt. New York: Popular Library, 1940. Rpt. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996. An online version of Cease Firing is available from Google Books.
- Johnston, Mary. Hagar. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1913. Rpt. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1994. An online version of Hagar is available from Google Books.
- Johnston, Mary. Pioneers of the Old South: A Chronicle of English Colonial Beginnings. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1918. Rpt. New York: AMS Press, 1970. An online version of Pioneers of the Old South is available from Google Books.
- Johnston, Mary. 1492. Boston: Little, Brown, and Co., 1922. Rpt. as Admiral of the Ocean-Sea. London: Butterworth, 1923. Rpt. as 1492: Admiral of the Ocean-Sea. Chester, N.Y.: Hambledon Hill Press, 2005. An online version of 1492 is available from Google Books.
- Johnston, Mary. The Collected Short Stories of Mary Johnston. Ed. Annie Woodbridge and Hensley C. Woodbridge. Troy, N.Y.: Whitston Pub., 1982.
Mary Johnston was born and grew up in Buchanan, Va. She was frequently ill as a child and spent a lot of time reading the books in her father’s library. Most of her education came from tutors and her own reading. When Johnston was sixteen, her family moved to Birmingham, Ala. Her mother died in 1889, and Johnston took over the responsibility of caring for her younger siblings. The family moved to New York in 1892, where Johnston began writing short stories. Financial difficulties took the family back to Birmingham four years later, and Johnston worked on a novel she had begun in New York. Prisoners of Hope was published in 1898 and was modestly successful. Her second novel, To Have and To Hold (published in 1900), was immensely popular, and Johnston’s earnings enabled her family to return to Virginia.
Johnston’s writing was now the main financial support for her family. She published twenty more novels between 1900 and 1934. In 1909, she became involved in the woman’s suffrage movement and was a founding member of the Equal Suffrage League of Virginia. Despite her fragile health, Johnston traveled around the region to speak on behalf of the League. She also became interested in Progressive causes such as prison reform and anti-lynching campaigns and in non-orthodox religious movements such as Theosophy. In 1911, Johnston bought property near Germantown, Va. (now Warm Springs). She and her sisters began building a house they named Three Hills. Although declining popularity of her books caused some financial strain, Johnston lived at Three Hills for the rest of her life. She died there of cancer in 1936 and was buried in Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, Va.
Interests and Themes
Mary Johnston wrote historical novels, several of them set in colonial Virginia. Her
Civil War novels were praised by critics. Johnston's later works were influenced by her interest in Progressive causes and non-orthodox religion.
For More Information
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There may be more information available through the databases in the Alabama Virtual Library. If you are an Alabama citizen, AVL can be used at your public library or school library media center. You can also get a username and password from your librarian to use AVL at home.
- Cella, C. Ron. Mary Johnston. Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1981.
- Longest, George C. Three Virginia Writers: Mary Johnston, Thomas Nelson Page, and Amelie Rives Troubetzkoy: A Reference Guide. Boston: G. K. Hall, 1978.
Reference Web Sites
Location of Papers
Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, LC-DIG-ggbain-03356.
Last updated on Oct 10, 2009.