For more than forty years Frances Elizabeth Mease Barrow's name – or, rather, that of her pseudonym, "Aunt Fanny" – remained before the public. In the 1850s and 1860s, she published five quirkily-titled series combining humor, moral instruction, and social awareness. By the 1870s and 1880s, her name was associated with children's charities and with club activities and literary salons. When she died in 1894, one obituary characterized her both as an author whose children's books "delighted the grandfathers and grandmothers of the present day" and as "a social star, known to everybody as 'Aunt Fanny.'" Yet even though her name appeared often in newspapers and periodicals (and still surfaces in accounts of her nephew, Stanford White) and her own family figured in some of her stories, much of Frances Elizabeth Mease Barrow's history remains shadowy or contradictory, a situation compounded by repeated errors in reference sources. The biographical fragments that remain, combined with Fanny's writings, make it possible to piece together a more detailed and accurate picture than has been previously assembled. The portrait that emerges is that of a talented woman filled with a love of -- and ready sympathy for -- children (her own and others'), who managed to parlay her writing skills and build social networks to overcome personal losses and economic challenges and to help others in need.
Johnson, D. A. (2019). Everything is Relative: Frances Elizabeth Mease Barrow (Aunt Fanny) and Sarah Leaming Barrow Holly (Aunt Fanny's Daughter). , 1-38. Retrieved from https://digitalcommons.wcupa.edu/eng_facpub/64