More writings from a well-known observer of life and culture in the Civil War-era South.
Francis Warrington Dawson (1840-1889) fell in love with Sarah Morgan (1843-1909) in January 1873 and spent the rest of the year trying to win her hand in marriage. Their courtship was highly unconventional, reading more like an epic novel than, as Frank put it, the story of “a very ordinary man & a very lovely woman.”
He was a thirty-two-year-old Englishman living under a nom de guerre who had fought for the Confederacy and later settled in South Carolina, where he became editor of the Charleston News. She was a thirty-year-old single woman, living as an unwelcome guest in her brother’s household near Columbia. When the two met in the winter of 1873, Frank was mourning the recent death of his wife, while Sarah was still grieving the life she had lost as a result of war and defeat.
The couple’s relationship came to encompass both the personal and the professional: Frank loved Sarah, and in an attempt to free her from her unhappy existence, he convinced her to accept a position on the editorial staff of the News.
The private and public writings in this volume reveal the early relationship between Frank and Sarah, together with a selection of articles that Morgan wrote anonymously for the Charleston News and Courier on topics ranging from “The Use and Abuse of Widows” to “Old Maids,” “Work for Women,” “Age,” and “Suffrage-Shrieking.” Morgan’s commentary gives us a candid portrayal of the way one white southern woman viewed her postwar world, even as she struggled to find her place within it.
“This compelling volume follows two very extraordinary people as they tried to remake their lives and themselves in the tumultuous years of the post-Civil War South. Roberts is the perfect historical guide: her expert editing, which interweaves published work with private correspondence, elegantly frames the material and draws out its significance, all while allowing her protagonists to tell their own stories. The surprising twists and turns remind us that the unique circumstances of individual lives can provide the most valuable insights into larger patterns of historical change.”—Laura F. Edwards, author of Scarlett Doesn’t Live Here Anymore.
“This book adds immeasurably to our sense of who the Civil War diarist Sarah Morgan was and gives us new insight into the woman of the postwar years. Roberts’s decision to include a selection of Sarah’s newspaper pieces alongside the correspondence between her and the Charleston editor Francis Warrington Dawson is one that scholars will applaud. She has done a splendid job.”—Charles East, editor of Sarah Morgan: The Civil War Diary of a Southern Woman.