Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Mary Hartwell Catherwood  

Pen Name: Mary Hartwell, Lewtrah

Genre: C:ADULT Fiction Poetry Romance

Born: 1847 in Luray, Ohio


Illinois Connection

Catherwood moved with her parents in 1856 from Ohio to Milford, Illinois; living there only a year as her parents died and she moved back to Ohio to be with her grandparents. In 1877, she moved back to Illinois and settled in Hoopeston. In 1899, Catherwood decided she needed to spend more time in Chicago to be nearer her publishers and for her daughter's schooling, so she took an apartment there that was her second home. She died in Chicago and is buried in Floral Hill Cemetery in Hoopeston/Iroquois County. Many of Catherwood's books had a midwestern flair and were set in Illinois.

Biographical and Professional Information

Mary Hartwell Catherwood was a teacher and an author of popular historical romances, short stories, and poetry. Early in her career she published under her birth name, Mary Hartwell, and under the pseudonym Lewtrah . In 1868, she graduated from Granville Female College in Granville, Ohio. She went on to teach in Ohio and Illinois before she was able to support herself by writing.

Her early work was mainly in short stories and long serials which were published in magazines such as the Atlantic and Lippincott's. In 1889, with the publication of ''The Romance of Dollard'', a historical romance based on the work of Francis Parkman, Catherwood's life took a new direction. Historians of American fiction suggest that Catherwood's importance lies in her having been the first novelist to write popular romantic historical novels, forecasting the bestselling genre at the turn of the century. Catherwood was the first woman novelist born west of the Alleghenies and the first woman novelist to be a college graduate.

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