Annie Fellows Johnston's life
exemplifies success and perseverance: she wrote over forty books (one was even
made into a major motion picture) during a time period when it was not customary
for women to be so successful, she was a devoted wife to a husband who died only
a few years after their marriage, and she was a stepmother to three children,
for whom she continued to care after the death of their father.
Mrs. Johnston is most famous for
her thirteen-book Little Colonel Series. In 1935, Twentieth
Century Fox released The Little Colonel based on the first book in the
series, The Little Colonel. The movie starred Shirley Temple and
Born on a farm in a small town in
Indiana on May 15, 1863, Annie sharpened her writing skills as a young girl. Her
father, a minister, died when she was two but left an exstensive collection of
reading material, and her mother, an advocate for women's education, encouraged
Annie to teach and go to college. She attended the University of Iowa for a
year, taught for three years, worked as a private secretary, and traveled
through New England and Europe before she married a cousin, who encouraged her
to write, and became a mother to his three young children.
Mrs. Johnston's unique writing
style fictionalized real people and experiences. On a visit to Pewee Valley,
Kentucky, in 1895, Mrs. Johnston met little Hattie Cochran, “a feisty and
stubborn little girl whose spirit and demeanor resembled that of an old-time
colonel.” The Little Colonel was born! Mrs. Johnston fell in love with Pewee
Valley, and she moved there in 1910 permanently and completed the series.
Mrs. Johnston died on October 5,
1931, in her beloved Pewee Valley.