Frances Courtenay Baylor Barnum was an author of popular fiction who wrote novels and short stories as well as essays and poems. Her literary style reflected the fashions of late nineteenth-century America, with dramatic, instructive, sentimental plots and genteel characters. Though many of her works were set in Europe or Mexico, Barnum’s 1887 novel Behind the Blue Ridge diverged from this pattern, depicting farmers and homesteaders of western Virginia. (Barnum was a longtime resident of Lexington and Winchester.) Reviews of the work praised her lively characterizations and her ability to convincingly capture the social customs and speech patterns of Blue Ridge pioneers.