Louise Clarke Pyrnelle was born on the Alabama plantation of her father, a wealthy physician. Her early education was through tutors at home. After the end of the Civil War, Pyrnelle’s family lost the plantation and moved to Selma, Ala. She continued her education at schools in Montgomery. After her graduation, she became a governess in Browns, Ala. Pyrnelle studied elocution in New York and then traveled through New England giving performances reading dialect stories. In the late 1870s, Pyrnelle returned to Alabama and began working as a tutor. After her marriage in 1880, she and her husband moved around Alabama and Florida, teaching, tutoring, and working for the Episcopal Church. Her first book, Diddy, Dumps, and Tot, was published in 1882. In the late 1880s, Pyrnelle and her husband moved to Browns to live in his childhood home. After her husband’s death in 1901, Pyrnelle moved to Birmingham, where she lived out the remainder of her life with a cousin and his wife. Her second book, Miss Li’l’ Tweetty, was published posthumously by her cousin’s wife.
Louise Clarke Pyrnelle wrote stories of antebellum plantation life from the nostalgic point of view of a child of privilege. The legends and tales she included in her books are similar to those of Joel Chandler Harris’s “Uncle Remus.”
Please check your local library for these materials. If items are not available locally, your librarian can help you borrow them through the InterLibrary Loan program. Your librarian can also help you find other information about this author.
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.
Photo from Louise Clarke Pyrnelle: A Biography with Selections from Her Writings, William Stanley Hoole, 1982.
Last updated on May 30, 2008.