Frances Harrison Marr
About the Poet
Frances Harrison Marr (July 2, 1835 – October 18, 1918) was an American author and poet. At an early age, she contributed poems to newspapers and magazines. Many of her fugitive verses were incorporated in Local and National Poets of America and other standard collections of poetry. She was the author of three volumes of poems entitled Heart Life in Song, Virginia and Other Poems, and Songs of Faith.
Marr taught for several years after the Civil War and then began to write more for amusement than for any other reason. She published her works under the name "Fannie H. Marr", and won the prize offered by a Georgia paper.
Her first collection of poems, Heart Life in Song, at 165 pages, was published in 1874 in Baltimore, by the Turnbull brothers. The second edition of 183 pages was published in 1883. In 1881, her Virginia and Other Poems appeared, published in Philadelphia, by Sherman & Co. The longer poems in this book are the weaker. The best are those of religious feeling; they are short, rhythmical, and tender.
According to Painter in Poets of Virginia (1907), these two volumes deal with plain, homely themes, as may be judged from such titles as "Old Letters", "Family Portraits", "To My Books", and "Summer Evening". In the preface of one of the volumes, Marr writes of the sources from which she drew inspiration. Religious sentiment is dominant with nothing of the doubts and vagaries of skepticism. In a time of theological unrest and innovating beliefs, she preferred to follow the old paths. In “A Simile”, Marr gives an expression to St. Augustine's thought that the human soul was made for God, and is never entirely at peace till it finds Him. The title poem of the second volume was inspired by a patriotic love, and perhaps nowhere else have the glories of Virginia been more fully and successfully sung. It is divided into eight brief parts. In "Life" the author reaches as high a strain as in any other of her pieces. She believes in the worth and dignity of life, and “the boon of immortality.” Songs of Faith came out in 1888. These poems were described as being full of faith, trust, and love. Her religious ones were “pure and tender, and they have comforted the mourning and soothed the dying.”
Marr's poem, "My Suit of Confederate Gray", was written in 1889, and published in The Baltimore Sun approximately one year after, accredited to her. It was then copied by a number of newspapers in the South, as its sentiment struck a responsive chord with those who sympathized with the Confederate cause. On February 4, 1907, the poem was re-published in The Baltimore Sun, this time being attributed to James Clay, a citizen of Baltimore, but the plagiarism was promptly exposed. Marr wrote a number of other poems, some of which were published in The Baltimore Sun. Of one of them, “Memorial Flowers," the editor of the paper in which it was published wrote: "It glows with poetic fire".
She died at her home on October 18, 1918. The funeral took place at St. James' Episcopal Church, Warrenton, and interment was at the Warrenton Cemetery in her hometown.
Virginia City or County Affiliation
Year of Birth
Published Works or Performances
- Heart-Life in Song, 1874
- Virginia and Other Poems, 1881
- Songs of Faith, 1888
Frances Harrison Marr