Mary Virginia Terhune
Biography of Mary Virginia Terhune
Mary Virginia Terhune (née Hawes, December 21, 1830 – June 3, 1922), also known by her penname Marion Harland, was an American author. She began her career writing articles at the age of 14, using various pennames until 1853, when she settled on Marion Harland. Her first novel Alone was published in 1854 and would go on to sell over 100,000 copies. For fifteen years she was a prolific writer of best-selling women's fiction novels, as well as writing numerous serial works, short stories, and essays for magazines. After marrying Presbyterian minister Edward Payson Terhune in 1856, Terhune had six children, though three died as infants. In the 1870s, shortly after the birth of her last son Albert Payson, she broke from her novel writing and published Common Sense in the Household: A Manual of Practical Housewifery, a cookbook and domestic guide for housewives.
Though Terhune continued writing novels, she began to concentrate primarily on non-fiction, publishing additional cookbooks and domestic works, as well as biographies, travel guides, and histories. She also spoke as a public lecturer and was the first woman elected to the Virginia Historical Society. In 1873, the Terhunes relocated to Europe for two years while Mary recovered from tuberculosis. After their return, they continued living in the northeastern United States, moving as her husband's job demanded.
After breaking her wrist in her seventies, Terhune learned to use a typewriter. In her 90s, she went blind, but continued work by dictating to a secretary. Her final work, the novel The Carringtons of High Hill, was published in 1919. Terhune continued creating articles and essays until she died on June 2, 1922. Over her life, she published 25 novels, 25 non-fiction works on homemaking and cooking, three short story collections, several biographies, travel guides and histories, and numerous essays, articles, and serial works. Two of her children, Christine Terhune Herrick and Albert Payson Terhune, became noted writers as well, with Herrick's following in her mother's footsteps as an authority of domestic matters, and Albert Terhune's becoming notable for his novels featuring collies. Her third child, Virginia Van de Water, also became a writer, though less well known. Late in life, Mary Terhune co-wrote works with each of them.