Date of Award

Winter 1996

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



Committee Director

Michael P. Pearson

Committee Member

Douglas G. Greene

Committee Member

Jefferson C. Harrison


In 1871, Anna Cogswell Wood and Irene Kirke Leache founded a school for girls in Norfolk, Virginia which had a profound influence on the community. The Leache-Wood Seminary became Norfolk's center for cultural pursuits. After the death of Irene Leache in 1900, Annie Wood established a memorial to perpetuate her friend's interest in literature, music, art, drama, and spiritual studies. Wood began a number of cultural programs which grew to shape the cultural life of the town in remarkable ways, leading directly to the Virginia Symphony, the Norfolk Little Theater, the Irene Leache Memorial, the Norfolk Society of Arts, and The Chrysler Museum of Art.

Wood published two novels, two memoirs of Irene Leache, two books of essays, and a book of dramatic sketches. She also wrote a number of pensees, in album format, sixteen of which are in the collection of the Irene Leache Memorial. Her writings trace the development of an independent Victorian woman who closely observed the changes in society from the Civil War to World War II.