Texas Originals, a co-production with Humanities Texas

Texas Originals: Amelia Barr

Amelia E. Barr, between ca. 1910 and ca. 1915 [LOC/Bain News Service,, publisher]
A legendary Texas author who penned historical novels including Remember the Alamo.

AMELIA EDITH HUDDLESTON BARR
March 29, 1831–March 10, 1919

 

In 1888, the historical novel Remember the Alamo was published to popular and critical acclaim. Set during the Texas fight for independence, the book includes vivid portraits of Santa Anna, Sam Houston, and Davy Crockett. The novel’s unlikely author was Amelia Barr, a British writer who lived in Texas in the mid-nineteenth century.

Barr moved to America with her husband and daughters in 1853. They lived briefly in Chicago and Memphis before settling in Austin.

In Texas, Barr was enthralled by tales of the state’s history. She plunged into Austin’s social life and recorded sharp-eyed accounts of the city in her diary, in the turbulent years before and during the Civil War.

In 1867, Barr’s husband and three of her children died of yellow fever in Galveston. Barr moved to New York soon after and, as she put it, “was reborn” into a life of duty. To support herself, she launched her remarkably successful writing career, publishing an average of two books per year over three decades. Richly detailed historical romances such as Remember the Alamo became her specialty.

Barr died in 1919. In her memoir, completed at age eighty, she wrote that she hoped her life story might help “any sad or doubtful woman to outleap her own shadow, and to stand bravely out in the sunshine to meet her destiny.”

 

For more about Amelia E. Barr

The Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr Papers are held in the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History at The University of Texas at Austin. They include letters written by Barr, some of which describe events in Austin in 1861, in Galveston during Reconstruction, and in New York at the turn of the century.

Many of Amelia E. Barr’s books are available as free ebooks from sources such as Project Gutenberg.

 

Amelia Barr
British novelist Amelia Barr, portrait with autograph, New York Public Library Archives.

 

Selected bibliography

Adams, Paul. “Amelia Barr in Texas, 1856–1868.” The Southwestern Historical Quarterly 49 (January 1946), 361–373.

Adams, Paul.  “Barr, Amelia Edith Huddleston,” Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fba75), accessed July 12, 2013. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

Barr, Amelia E. All the Days of My Life: The Red Leaves of a Human Heart. New York: Appleton, 1913.

Chabot, Bruce Guy. “Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr.” In Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 202: Nineteenth-Century American Fiction Writers. Ed. Kent P. Ljungquist. New York: Gale, 1999: 21-29.

Graham, Philip, ed. “Texas Memoirs of Amelia E. Barr.” The Southwestern Historical Quarterly 69, no. 4 (April, 1966), http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117144/ (accessed July 16, 2013).

Norman, Rose. “Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr.” In Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 221: American Women Prose Writers, 1870–1920. Ed. Sharon M. Harris. New York: Gale, 2000: 31-38.