Woman of the Century/Amelia E. Barr

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BARR, Mrs. Amelia E., novelist, born in Ulverstone. on Morecombe Bay, in the district of Furness, Lancashire. England, in 1832. Her maiden name was Amelia E. Huddleston. She was the daughter of Rev. William Huddleston, a representative of the Huddlestons of Milium, a family of ancient and pure Saxon lineage, who furnished a large number of well-known ecclesiastics and of daring navigators. Amelia was a child of precocious intellect. Brought up in an atmosphere of refined culture, she early turned to books for recreation, and later became a thorough student. Her father was a learned and eloquent preacher, and he directed her studies for years. When she was only six years old, she had memorized many of the "Arabian Nights" stories, and was familiar with "Robinson Crusoe" and Pilgrim's Progress." When she was nine years old, she became her father's companion and reader. Necessarily that work obliged her to read books of a deep nature and beyond her comprehension; however, the sentiments they contained did much towards her mental development. When twelve years old, she read to her father the well-known "Tracts for the Times" and became an adherent of the religious movement they originated. Her education was conducted in an unmethodical manner, and the principal part was derived from reading instructive books. When Miss Huddleston was seventeen, she attended a celebrated school in Glasgow, Scotland, but she derived very little knowledge from that source. When about eighteen she was married to Robert Barr, the son of Rev. John Barr, of Dovehill Kirk, whose writings are still published. Mr. and Mrs. Barr came to America a few years after their marriage and traveled in the West and South. When the yellow fever broke out in 1856, they were in New Orleans, but, fearing to remain there, they left for Texas, settling in Austin, where Mr. Barr received an appointment in the comptroller's office. After the Civil War AMELIA E. BABB.jpgAMELIA E. BARR. they removed to Galveston. In 1876 the yellow fever broke out there, and Mr. Barr and their four sons were stricken and died. Mrs. Barr and her three daughters were spared, and, as soon as it was safe, they went to New York. Mrs. Barr took a letter of introduction to a merchant, who directly engaged her to assist in the education of his three sons. She instructed them in ancient and modern literature, music and drawing. When her pupils went to Princeton, Mrs. Barr sought advice from Rev, Henry-Ward Beecher, who was then editor of the "Christian Union." He was very encouraging, and she began to write for that paper and has continued to write for its columns. Mr. Beecher introduced her to Dr. Lyman Abbott, through whom she met the Harper Brothers, for whose periodicals she wrote for a number of years. In 1884 she was confined to her chair by an accident, which seemed to be a fortunate one, however, for during that time she wrote her first novel, "Jan Vedder's Wife." In 1885, it was bought and published by a New York house, who have since published her novels. Her first book attracted general notice and gave her an instantaneous success. It ran through many editions and has been widely read on both sides of the sea, and in more than one language. Since 1885 Mrs. Barr has published numerous stories. Scotland has furnished the scene of four of them; two have dealt with life in the English manufacturing districts. "The Border Shepherdess" (1887) lived in a long-debated territory between Scotland and England. "Feet of Clay" (1880) carried its readers to the Isle of Man. "Friend Olivia," a study of Quaker character, which appeared in 1890 in the "Century," recalled the closing years of the Commonwealth in England. "The Bow of Orange Ribbon" (1856) is a charming picture of life in New York in the days when Dutch manners and habits were still in their prime. "Remember the Alamo" (1888) recalls the stirring episode of the revolt of Texas against the Mexican rule. "She Loved a Sailor" combines pictures of sea life with darker scenes from the days of slavery. It will be seen from this brief catalogue that Mrs. Barr's sympathies are with life rather than with classes of people. Her other works are "A Daughter of Fife" (1886), "The Squire of Sandle-Side," "Paul and Christina" (1887), "Master of his Fate" (1888), "The Last of the Macallisters " (1886), Between two Loves" (1886), "A Sister to Esau" (1890), and "A Rose of a Hundred Leaves" (1891). There is no other writer in the United States whose writings command so wide a circle of readers at home and abroad as Mrs. Barr's, and yet she is so much of a hermit that her personality is almost a mystery to the hundreds of thousands who are familiar with the creations of her intellect. Most of her time is spent at Cherry Croft, her home on the top of Storm King Mountain, at Cornwall-on-the-Hudson, N. Y. There she lives with her daughters, happy in her literary work and her social surroundings, and almost worshiped by the dwellers on the mountain, who are frequent visitors at the hermitage. Her career has been an admirable illustration of the capacity of woman, under stress of sorrow, to conquer the world and win success.