Title: Anna Cora Ritchie collection Creator: Ritchie, Anna Cora Ogden Mowatt, 1819-1870 Inclusive dates: 1856-1860 Extent: 22 items Abstract:
In the 1850s, Anna Cora Ritchie, a writer and actress, became involved in the Mount Vernon Ladies' Association, whose mission was (and is) to preserve the home of George Washington. This collection includes incoming correspondence related to fundraising activities for the Association and letters from friends in her theatrical and literary circles.
Language: The material is in English. Repository: William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan
909 S. University Ave. The University of Michigan Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1190 Phone: 734-764-2347 Web Site: www.clements.umich.edu
Anna Cora Ogden was born September 12, 1819, to Samuel Gouveneur Ogden and Eliza Lewis Ogden. The ninth of fourteen children, she read from an early age and often wrote poetry and staged plays with her siblings. In 1834, she eloped at the age of fifteen with James Mowatt, a young New York lawyer. They traveled abroad in Europe for several years, returning to New York in 1840. In 1841, when James Mowatt lost his investments and his sight was impaired by illness, Anna Cora turned to her talent for dramatic readings to earn an income for her family, which included three adopted children. She also published articles, novels, and plays. Her first major play, Fashion, or, Life in New York, a satirical comedy about high-society New York, is considered one of the foundational works of early American drama. In 1845, she made her debut as an actress, performing in several leading roles and touring the United States and Europe until 1854.
After James Mowatt's death in 1851, she remarried in 1853 to William Foushee Ritchie, the editor of the Richmond Examiner. Living in Richmond, Virginia, Anna Cora took a leading role in the Mount Vernon Ladies' Association's efforts to purchase and restore the home of George Washington. In 1860, she separated from her husband and spent most of the next decade in Europe. Anna Cora Ritchie died in England in 1870.
The Anna Cora Ritchie collection includes incoming correspondence regarding the Mount Vernon Ladies' Association, theatre life, and other matters. Twenty letters are addressed to Anna Cora Ritchie, and two to William Foushee Ritchie.
Personal letters to Anna Cora include correspondence from writers, artists, and others involved in the theatrical world. James O. Sargent, younger brother of Epes Sargent, wrote to her regarding a search for a Mr. Johnson. She received two copies of a letter from J. Guido Methua, a German artist and husband of the actress Marie Scheller-Methua, reporting that he had begun to paint since she left the theatre. Other correspondents included Katharine Sedgwick, an American novelist, Mary Virginia Hawes Terhune (pen name Marion Harland), another writer, and Caroline M. Richings, an opera singer. The letters cover current affairs, her writings, and other personal topics.
Several of the letters discuss the activities of the Mount Vernon Ladies' Association (MVLA), particularly regarding various fundraising efforts on behalf of the organization. Four of the letters are from fellow members of the MVLA, Louisa Ingersoll Greenough, Susan Pellet, Judith Rives, and Mattie L. Hedrick. A letter from E.S. (possibly Epes Sargent, Anna Cora's literary advisor) mentioned that he had visited Mt. Vernon twice and was very pleased with the MVLA efforts. Andrew H. H. Dawson, who spoke on behalf of the MVLA, William H. Bruce, and C. F. Bartholomew also wrote to Anna Cora regarding the MVLA.
William Foushee Ritchie received two letters, one from James Lyons, a Richmond lawyer, and another from Robert H. Gray regarding an address written for the MVLA and a lengthy discussion of party politics.