Annie Fellows JohnstonThis web site is devoted to
Annie Fellows Johnston and the Little Colonel Stories

Brought to you by the people of Pewee Valley, Kentucky and their friends around the world

 


Annie Fellows Johnston
a short biography

*May 15, 1863 Evansville, Indiana
+October 5, 1931 Pewee Valley, Kentucky
Daughter of Albion and Mary Erskine Fellows
Married to William L. Johnston, 1888-1892

Annie Fellows Johnston posed
with Hattie Cochran, "The Little Colonel"
and The Little Colonel's Holidays.
1928

Annie Fellows Johnston received tremendous fame and popularity around the turn of the 20th century as an author of books for children. She is best known for her thirteen book series beginning with The Little Colonel, although she wrote over forty books in all as well as contributed occasional stories to periodicals such as the Youth's Companion.

The illustration shows Annie Fellows Johnston around  1928 with the then grown-up Hattie Cochran, the real-life Little Colonel.   (from the The Sunday Herald Post, Louisville, Kentucky, December 23, 1928) Most of the characters in Mrs. Johnstons' semi-biographical works were based on actual people, places and experiences.  For the Little Colonel Series, Johnston fictionalized Pewee Valley, Kentucky, just outside Louisville, as Lloydsborough Valley. 

Her Early Life:


Portrait of a young
Annie Fellows Johnston
By Kate Matthews
(Private collection
Pewee Valley)

Born Annie Julia Fellows, Annie grew up with her mother, brother Erwin and two sisters, Lura & Albion, on a farm in McCutchanville, Indiana, near Evansville.  Her father, Albion, a Methodist minister, died when she was only two, but left his influences through his theological books.  Annie began writing already as a girl, producing poems and stories imitating those she read in Godsey's Lady's Book, Youth's Companion and St. Nicholas.  She was also known to have read every book in her Sunday school library.  She attended district school, and even taught a year when she was 17.   Her mother was a firm believer in education for women.

Annie attended the University of Iowa for one year (1881-82), then returned to Evansville to teach for three years, and later to work as a private secretary.  She traveled for several months through New England and Europe, staying with cousins along the way. The influence of these trips would be seen later in many of her her works.  When she returned, she married William L. Johnston (a cousin and a widower with three young children.)  He encouraged her to write, and she began contributing stories to periodicals.  William died in 1892, leaving Annie a widow with his children to support (she never had any of her own).  It was at that time that Annie began her career as a writer.

Her Career:

Mrs. Johnston's first book, Big Brother, was published in 1893, followed by Joel: A Boy of Galilee in 1895.  In 1895, Annie visited Pewee Valley, Kentucky, where her stepchildren were staying with relatives.  She so fell in love with the area, with its atmosphere of leisure and aristocracy left over from the days of slavery, that she would eventually return to make it her permanent home.  It was then that she also met the little Hattie Cochran, a feisty and stubborn little girl whose spirit and demeanor resembled that of an old-time colonel. 

Annie returned to Evansville and wrote The Little Colonel in1895, and it quickly became a success.  Twelve more volumes of the Little Colonel series would appear over the next thirty years, the first ones being The Giant Scissors (1898)  Two Little Knights of Kentucky (1899), The Little Colonel's House Party (1900), The Little Colonel's Holiday (1901), The Little Colonel's Hero (1902) and The Little Colonel at Boarding School (1904).

Johnston moved to Pewee Valley in 1898. In 1899, her step-daughter Rena, died, and her step-son  John's health deteriorated so that in 1901 she took him West where the climate was more favorable; first in Arizona, then California and for eight years in Texas, until his death in 1910.  During this time, Johnston wrote The Little Colonel in Arizona (1904), The Desert of Waiting (1905), The Little Colonel's Chum: Mary Ware (1908), and Mary Ware in Texas (1910), all set in the Southwest.  During this time she also wrote The Little Colonel's Christmas Vacation (1905), The Little Colonel: Maid of Honor (1906), Legend of the Bleeding Heart (1907) and the Little Colonel's Knight Comes Riding (1907)

In 1910, Annie Fellows Johnston returned to Pewee Valley and lived there until her death in 1931.  Her best known books of this period were Mary Ware's Promised Land (1912), Miss Santa Clause of the Pullman (1913), Georgina of the Rainbows (1916), It was the Road to Jericho (1919), The Land of the Little Colonel: Reminiscence and Autobiography (1929).  In 1935, Twentieth Century Fox released "The Little Colonel," a film directed by David Butler, with Shirley Temple playing the part of the Little Colonel, a role well suited to her.   Lionel Barrymore played the part of the Old Colonel.

**************

As you browse through this site, you will find more biographical information on nearly every page, whether it be the people and places she knew and wrote about, or her own thoughts as reflected in her letters and writings.


Louise Lawton's ("Elise Walton's") copy of
a portrait of Annie Fellows Johnston, possibly her mother's before that
From the Lawton family private collection

Enlargement 1548x1000
Super-size enlargement  5393x3483

 

This Site:
Home Page   What's New?   Biography of Annie Fellows Johnston,   
Books on Line
  (Complete Original Little Colonel Book Series)
    The Little Colonel (link to U. Penn))
   
The Giant Scissors
    Two Little Knights of Kentucky
    The Little Colonel's House Party
    The Little Colonel's Holidays
    The Little Colonel's Hero
    The Little Colonel at Boarding-School
    The Little Colonel in Arizona
    The Little Colonel's Christmas Vacation 
    The Little Colonel, Maid of Honor 
    The Little Colonel's Knight Comes Riding
 
    Mary Ware, The Little Colonel's Chum 
    Mary Ware in Texas  
    Mary Ware's Promised Land
          Check our home page for more titles by AFJ on other sites
The People & Characters:
The Little Colonel, Papa Jack and Mrs. Sherman,  The Old Colonel, Two Little Knights of Kentucky,  Two Little Knights of Kentucky(2), 
Uncle Sidney & Aunt Elise, parents of the Two Little Knights of Kentucky, Grandmother McIntyre, Aunt Allison, The Waltons, Rob and Anna Moore, Betty, Joyce Ware, Jack WareMom Beck, Walker, Katherine Marks, Gay Melville, The Lees of Arizona, Small Parts
Their Final Resting Places

The Places:
In Pewee (Lloydsboro) Valley: Map, Map 2, Where it all began, The Locust, The Beeches  Edgewood, The Little Colonel's Cottage, The Railroad Station, "Lloydsboro Seminary", Clovercroft, The Post Office, Churches, The Haunted House at Hartwell Hollow,  Confederate Home Rollington, Minor Places In Old Louisville: The Culbertson Mansion, "Home of a Hero"  in Indiana:: The Cuckoo's Nest (Indiana), In Arizona: Lee's Ranch, Camelback Mountain & Hole-in-Rock, In Texas: 
San Antonio, The Little Town of Bauer (Boerne), Penacres, The Barnaby Ranch, In France: The Gate of the Giant Scissors
Letters from Annie Fellows Johnston and "Mrs Walton"  
Scrapbook

Links
Cooking with The Little Colonel
Guest Book

Email us about this site  We always appreciate your suggestions and insights, and will do our best to answer your questions..  Much of the material included on this site comes from devoted Little Colonel Fans like you.

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