The Correspondence of Sarah Morgan and Francis Warrington Dawson
With Selected Editorials Written by Sarah Morgan for the Charleston News and Courier

Edited by Giselle Roberts

More writings from a well-known observer of life and culture in the Civil War-era South


"This compelling volume follows two very extraordinary people as they tried to remake their lives and themselves in the tumultuous years of the post-Civil War South. Roberts is the perfect historical guide: her expert editing, which interweaves published work with private correspondence, elegantly frames the material and draws out its significance, all while allowing her protagonists to tell their own stories. The surprising twists and turns remind us that the unique circumstances of individual lives can provide the most valuable insights into larger patterns of historical change."
—Laura F. Edwards, author of Scarlett Doesn't Live Here Anymore

"This book adds immeasurably to our sense of who the Civil War diarist Sarah Morgan was and gives us new insight into the woman of the postwar years. Roberts's decision to include a selection of Sarah's newspaper pieces alongside the correspondence between her and the Charleston editor Francis Warrington Dawson is one that scholars will applaud. She has done a splendid job."
—Charles East, editor of The Civil War Diary of Sarah Morgan

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The private and public writings in this volume reveal the early relationship between renowned Civil War diarist Sarah Morgan (1842-1909) and her future husband, Francis Warrington Dawson (1840-1889). Gathered here is a selection of their letters along with various articles that Morgan wrote anonymously for the Charleston News and Courier, which Dawson owned and edited.

In January 1873 Morgan met Frank Dawson, an English expatriate, Confederate veteran, and newspaperman. By then Morgan had left her native Louisiana and was living near Columbia, South Carolina, with her younger brother, James Morris Morgan. When Sarah Morgan and Frank Dawson met, he was mourning the recent death of his first wife. She, in turn, was still grieving over her family’s many wartime losses.

The couple’s relationship came to encompass both the personal and the professional. To free Morgan from an unhappy dependence on her brother, Dawson urged her to write professionally for his paper. During 1873 Morgan wrote more than seventy pieces on such topics as French and Spanish politics, race relations, the insanity plea, funerals, and fashion gossip--editorials that caused a sensation in Charleston.

Only after attaining financial independence through her secret newspaper career did Morgan marry Frank Dawson, in 1874. Morgan’s commentary gives us a candid portrayal of the way one southern woman viewed her postwar world--even as she struggled to find her place in it.

Publications of the Southern Texts Society

Page count: 344 pp.
Trim size: 6 x 9


List price: $46.95

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Giselle Roberts is a research associate in the department of history at La Trobe University in Melbourne, Australia. She is the author of The Confederate Belle.