Woman of the Century/Eliza Frances Andrews
ANDREWS, Miss Eliza Frances, author and educator, born in Washington, Ga., 10th August, 1847. Her father was Judge Garnett Andrews, an eminent jurist and the author of a book of amusing sketches entitled "Reminiscences of an Old Georgia Lawyer." Among others of her immediate family who have distinguished themselves are her brother, Col. Garnett Andrews, a brave Confederate officer and the present mayor of Chattanooga, and her niece, Maude Andrews, of the Atlanta "Constitution." Soon after the death of her father, in 1873, his estate was wrecked by one of those "highly moral" defaulters, whose operations Miss Andrews has vividly portrayed in her novel, "A Mere Adventurer" (Philadelphia, 1879). The old homestead was sold, and Miss Andrews was reduced to the necessity of toiling for her daily bread. Though wholly unprepared, either by nature or training, for a life of self-dependence, she wasted no time in sentimental regrets, but courageously prepared to meet the situation. Journalism was hardly at that time a recognized profession for women in Georgia, and Miss Andrews, whose natural timidity and reserve had been fostered by the traditions in which she was reared, shrank from striking out into a new path. She did a little literary work secretly, but turned rather to teaching as a profession. For six months she edited a country newspaper, unknown to the proprietor himself, who had engaged a man to do the work at a salary of forty dollars a month. The pseudo-editor, feeling himself totally incompetent, offered Miss Andrews one-half of the salary if she would do the writing for him, and, being in great straits at the time, she accepted the unequal ELIZA FRANCIS ANDREWS. terms, doing all the actual work, while the duties of the ostensible editor were limited to taking the exchanges out of the post-office and drawing his half of the pay. After a few months the senior member of this unequal partnership, finding employment elsewhere, recommended Miss Andrews as his successor, a proposition to which the proprietor of the paper would not hear, declaring in his wisdom that it was impossible for a woman to fill such a position. Even when assured that one had actually been filling it for six months, he persisted in his refusal on the ground that editing a paper was not proper work for a woman. This, with exception of a few news letters to the New York "World," written about the same time, was Miss Andrews' first essay in journalism, and her experience on that occasion, together with similar experiences in other walks, has perhaps had something to do with making her such an ardent advocate of a more enlarged sphere of action for women. In spite of this unpromising beginning, she has been successful both as writer and teacher, and had gone far towards retrieving her shattered fortunes when her health failed. She spent eighteen months under treatment in a private hospital, and for two years more was compelled to withdraw from active life. Even under these adverse circumstances her energetic nature asserted itself, and "Prince Hal," an idyl of old-time plantation life, was written when she was so ill that she often had to lie in bed with her hands propped on a pillow to write. After a winter in Florida, in which she wrote a series of letters for the Augusta "Chronicle," she recovered her strength so far as to be able to accept an important position in the Wesleyan College in Macon, Ga., where she has remained for six or seven years, and in that time has added to her literary reputation that of a successful platform speaker. Her lectures on "The Novel as a Work of Art," "Jack and Jill," and "The Ugly Girl," delivered at the Piedmont Chautauqua, Monteagle, Tenn., and other places, have attracted wide attention. Besides being a fine linguist, speaking French and German fluently, and reading Latin with ease, she is probably the most accomplished field botanist in the South. Her literary work has been varied. From the solemn grandeur that marks the closing paragraphs of "Prince Hal" down to such popular sketches as "Uncle Edom and the Book Agent," or "The Dog Fight at Big Lick Meetin' House," her pen has ranged through nearly every field of literary activity. It is, perhaps, in what may be called the humorous treatment of serious subjects that her talent finds its best expression, as in her witty reply to Grant Allen on the woman question ("Popular Science Monthly"), or her "Plea for the Ugly Girls" ("Lippincott's Magazine"). "A Family Secret" (Philadelphia, 1876) is the most popular of her novels. This was followed by "How He was Tempted," published as a serial in the Detroit "Free Press." " Prince Hal" (Philadelphia, 1882), is the last of her works issued in book form. Her later writings have been published as contributions to different newspapers and periodicals. Her poems have been too few to warrant a judgment upon her as a writer of verse, but one of them, entitled "Haunted," shows how intimately the humorous and the pathetic faculties may be connected in the same mind.