Lucy Virginia French

Poet Information

Lucy Virginia French

About the Poet

Lucy Virginia French (pen name, L'Inconnue (The Unknown); March 16, 1825 – March 31, 1881) was a 19th-century American author from Accomack County, Virginia. Her blank verse was considered especially strong, and her themes were well chosen, mostly in their measure.

French belonged to a cultured and wealthy family. Educated in Washington, Pennsylvania, she moved to Memphis, Tennessee where she lived until her marriage in 1853, to John Hopkins French, living after this at "Forest Home," near McMinnville, Tennessee. Her first volume of poems, "Wind Whispers," appeared in 1856. She wrote "Tecumseh's Foot," "The Great River," "The Lyre of Time," "The Palmetto and the Pine," "The Years," "Mammy," "Liberty Bells," and other poems, besides several novels and dramas. She took a keen interest in the political questions of the day and wrote about them. Her first novel, My Roses, appeared in 1872, and her last one, "Darlingtonia," in 1879. She also began writing for the Louisville Journal under the pen name “L'Inconnue (the unknown),” and in 1852 she became editor of the Southern Ladies Book. After her 1853 marriage to Colonel John Hopkins French of McMinnville, she edited a number of newspapers and magazines including the Southern Homestead, the Rural Sun, the Sunny South, the Crusader, the Ladies Home, and the Southern Literary Messenger.

She also published poetry, a five-act tragedy (Istalilxo: The Lady of Tula, 1856), and two novels My Roses, 1872, and Darlingtonia, 1879. French's poetry is widely considered her best work; foremost among these pieces are “Wind Whispers,” “Tecumseh's Foot,” and “The Great River.” On March 31, 1881, she died at Forest Home, the McMinnville residence where she spent her entire married life. French also kept diaries during the Civil War (now housed at the Tennessee State Library and Archives) which give detailed accounts of her family's wartime experiences, both at the plantation in McMinnville and at nearby Beersheba Springs, where they resided during 1863 and 1864.

From Wikipedia



Virginia City or County Affiliation

Accomack County, Virginia





Year of Birth


Published Works or Performances

  • Wind Whispers, 1856.
  • Istalilxo, 1856.
  • The Lady of Tula, 1856.
  • Legends of the South, 1867.
  • My Roses, 1872.
  • Darlingtonia, 1879.

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Lucy Virginia French