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Winnie Davis

Enteel refugee and an expatriate abroad    After returning to the South from German boarding school Winnie was christened the “Daughter of the Confederacy” in 1886 This role was bestowed upon her by a Southern culture trying to sublimate its war losses Particularly idolized by Confederate veterans and the United Daughters of the Confederacy Winnie became an icon of the Lost Cause eclipsing even her father Jefferson in popularity    Winnie Davis  Daughter of the Lost Cause is the first published biography of this little kn. This book is the first biography of Varina Anne Winnie Davis the youngest child of Confederate president Jefferson Davis Born at the end of the Civil War Winnie eventually became a living symbol of the Southern wife and family for defeated Confederates Although highly educated in Germany and very publicly engaged Winnie died young and single Winnie was the sixth and youngest child of Jefferson Davis and his second wife Varina Jefferson s first wife died tragically just months after their marriage and Jefferson is said to have never completely recovered from this loss Jefferson and his second wife Varina lost their first child Samuel as a baby By the time Winnie was born the family had expanded from the loss of their first child to include Margaret Jeff Jr Joseph and William Tragically just months before Winnie was born in 1864 young Joe fell from a balcony of the executive mansion in Richmond to his death Thus Winnie was born and raised in both a home and a community of mourning of personal loss and also the loss of the war More tragedy was to come all four of the Davis sons would die young leaving Jefferson and Varina with only Margaret and Winnie to carry on the family legacy Winnie was raised with an emphasis on piety purity submissiveness and domesticity Personal sacrifice was applauded and Winnie sought approval through attempting to meet these ideals At the age of thirteen Winnie was sent to an austere boarding school in Germany Although initially very homesick Winnie eventually assimilated very fully into the European culture By the completion of her schooling Winnie had become fluent in German and French knowledgeable about European history and particularly well versed in German literature and history All this in addition to her notable skills in painting writing and music earned her a deserved reputation as one of the most cultured women of her time 68 After her return home she gradually became her father s traveling companion secretary and literary assistant Through attending events with her father she became famous in her own right and was presented at public events as the Daughter of the Confederacy a symbol of redemption to the defeated soldiers Winnie eventually met and fell in love with Alfred Fred Wilkinson a young lawyer from New York Once the news of their engagement became public Winnie s family received public outcry over her engagement to a Northerner with an abolitionist grandfather Winnie always anxious to please suffered from depression anxiety and anorexia and was greatly troubled by this feedback Over time her mother also turned against the marriage and Winnie ultimately called off the engagement Neither Winnie or Fred ever married Winnie s final years before her death in her early 30s were filled with Confederate events and scraping together a living through literary pursuits Winnie and her mother moved to New York City another unpopular move in the eyes of the South After being caught in the rain and a short illness Winnie died The actual cause of her death is still unknown although Winnie does appear to have had many health complaints throughout her life I was instantly drawn to this book because I love biographies of historical figures particularly ones who are lesser known I was even excited to learn that the author is a fellow graduate of Davidson College This was a well written and well researched book that sheds light on Winnie as a woman bound to a cause she didn t necessarily choose and which ultimately and mostly inadvertently became her life s work I do wonder what Winnie s true feelings towards the Southern cause were She clearly seems to have identified with European and Northern sentiments Although much of her correspondence has been destroyed I wonder how much of her role of Daughter of the Confederacy was done out of love and loyalty to her family and how much out of personal conviction

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Varina Anne “Winnie” Davis was born into a war torn South in June of 1864 the youngest daughter of Confederate president Jefferson Davis and his second wife Varina Howell Davis Born only a month after the death of beloved Confederate hero general JEB Stuart during a string of Confederate victories Winnie’s birth was hailed as a blessing by war weary Southerners They felt her arrival was a good omen signifying future victory But after the Confederacy’s ultimate defeat in the Civil War Winnie would spend her early life as a g. Daughter of the Lost Cause is the poignant story of Winnie Davis one of the last casualties of the Civil War Jefferson Davis s youngest daughter was destined by birth to carry the torch of the Confederacy It was an obligation she never asked for but could never refuse She had the then modern advantage of an education in Europe which gave her the intellectual tools and the ambition to break free from a domineering mother and a cosseted upbringing in the defeated south But her willingness to be the handsome poised dutiful daughter of the Confederacy s first family instead turned her into the living symbol of an antebellum way of life that she had never known Heath Lee tells this tale with simple elegance and matter of fact sensitivity She makes you understand that neither of Winnie s two worlds the languor of the Mississippi Gulf Coast or the hustle of downtown New York would ever bring her peace Guy Gugliotta author of Freedom s CapWinnie Davis Daughter of the Lost Cause

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Own woman who unwittingly became the symbolic female figure of the defeated South Her controversial engagement in 1890 to a Northerner lawyer whose grandfather was a famous abolitionist and her later move to work as a writer in New York City shocked her friends family and the Southern groups who worshipped her Faced with the pressures of a community who violently rejected the match Winnie desperately attempted to reconcile her prominent Old South history with her personal desire for tolerance and acceptance of her personal choices?. heath does justice to this interesting woman and defines the Davis family exuisitely

  • Hardcover
  • 248
  • Winnie Davis
  • Heath Hardage Lee
  • English
  • 24 January 2019
  • 9781612346373

About the Author: Heath Hardage Lee

Heath Hardage Lee comes from a museum education and curatorial background and she has worked at history museums across the country She holds a BA in History with Honors from Davidson College and an MA in French Language and Literature from the University of Virginia Heath served as the 2017 Robert J Dole Curatorial Fellow her exhibition entitled The League of Wives Vietnam POW MIA Advoc



10 thoughts on “Winnie Davis

  1. says:

    She was born Varina “Winnie Anne Davis in the White House of the Confederate States shortly after her 5 year old brother died of a fall A year later her mother and namesake gathered her and her siblings to flee their home as Richmond fell to the Union As a toddler she was the only child allowed to see her father the former CSA President in his post war incarceration They bondedToo young to know the war but shaped by its afterma

  2. says:

    Daughter of the Lost Cause is the poignant story of Winnie Davis one of the last casualties of the Civil War Jefferson Davis's youngest daughter was destined by birth to carry the torch of the Confederacy It was an obligation she never asked for but could never refuse She had the then modern advantage of an education in Europe which gave her the intellectual tools and the ambition to break free from a domineering mothe

  3. says:

    I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway This fascinating biography deals with the life of Winnie Davis the youngest daughter of Jefferson and Varina Davis After the War Between the States many who had supported the Confederacy tried to make Winnie a symbol of enduring Southern virtues While her life was lived out not as a symbol but as a h

  4. says:

    This book is the first biography of Varina Anne Winnie Davis the youngest child of Confederate president Jefferson Davis Born at the end of the Civil War Winnie eventually became a living symbol of the Southern wife and family for defeated Confederates Although highly educated in Germany and very publicly engaged Winnie died young and single Winnie was the sixth and youngest child of Jefferson Davis and his second wife Varina J

  5. says:

    A very well written and well researched biography that is also extremely readable and entertaining A fascinating look at Jefferson Davis' tragic family and an exploration of the post war south through the life of his daughter Winnie I did not think that there were stories to tell about this era but Heath Hardage Lee has found some Highly recommend

  6. says:

    Heath Hardage Lee deserves five stars for being the first scholar to unearth and tell this fascinating story It boggles the mind that it took so long for Winnie to earn her own biography The book deserves another five stars for being a wonderfully written and powerful read

  7. says:

    I picked this up at Chop Suey Books probably my favorite indie book shop on Cary Street in Richmond Hadn't heard of it but it was on the front tableread it in one big gulp Interesting stuff compellingly written Shout out to Wonton the cat

  8. says:

    heath does justice to this interesting woman and defines the Davis family exuisitely

  9. says:

    What a snooze fest Book club selection Really awful writing bad editing and a boring subject Read like a poorly w

  10. says:

    Well researched and well written biography of Winnie Davis youngest child of Jefferson and Varina Davis born in 1864 and adopted by citizens of the Confederacy and ultimately by veterans of the Confederacy and United Daughters of the

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