Author: Meriah L. Crawford

an adjunct instructor of English and mass communications at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia

Mary Spear Tiernan (1836–1891)

Mary Spear Tiernan was a novelist, essayist, and occasional poet who wrote primarily about central Virginia before and during the American Civil War (1861–1865). She published three novels, as well as short stories, which appeared in Harper’s New Monthly Magazine, Scribner’s Magazine, Century Magazine, and the Southern Review, among others. Her fiction vividly depicted wartime Richmond , and her novel Homoselle (1881) was based on a Virginia slave revolt and can be distinguished for Tiernan’s remarkable sympathy for African Americans.


Ruby Altizer Roberts (1907–2004)

Ruby Altizer Roberts is the author of two collections of poetry, three memoirs, a children’s book, and a genealogy. She was named Virginia’s first female poet laureate in 1950 and, until 1994, was the only woman to have held the post. In addition, Roberts edited the poetry journal The Lyric from 1952 until 1977. In 1961 she received an honorary doctor of humanities degree from the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, and in 1992, the General Assembly designated her Poet Laureate Emerita of Virginia.


Robert Munford (d. 1783)

Robert Munford is best known today as a playwright, but he was far better known in his lifetime for his civic and military roles. He served in the military before, during, and after the American Revolution (1775–1783), and was active in colony, state, and local government in Virginia. Among other duties, Munford chaired committees whose members included Patrick Henry and Thomas Jefferson. His literary output, consisting of two plays, a few poems, and a translation, were little known in his day. The Candidates and The Patriots both depict life in eighteenth-century Virginia and are believed to be the first comedies written in America, taking as their subject the politics of the day, from life in the House of Burgesses to the Revolutionary War.


Marion Harland (1830–1922)

Marion Harland was a writer of novels, short stories, biographies, travel narratives, cookbooks, and domestic manuals whose career stretched across seven decades of sectional conflict and great change in American life. Harland chronicled much of that change, penning novels that suggested her own divided loyalties between North and South before establishing herself as an expert and often a sly and sarcastic commentator on the domestic arts of homemaking.