Morrow, Honoré McCue (Willsie)
MORROW, Honoré McCue (Willsie)
Born 1880, Ottumwa, Iowa; died 12 April 1940, New Haven, Connecticut
Wrote under: Honoré Willsie Morrow
Daughter of William D. and Lilly Head McCue; married
Henry E. Willsie, 1901 (divorced 1922); William Morrow, 1923 (died 1931); children three Honoré McCue Morrow grew up in the Midwest, although her family had ties in the East. Her parental grandfather was a Methodist circuit rider who served for 53 years in the West Virginia coal mining regions. Her mother's father was a friend of Daniel Webster. After her graduation from the University of Wisconsin, Morrow married a construction engineer; they were divorced in 1922. By that time, Morrow's writing career was launched. Stories and articles growing out of a visit to an Arizona mining camp had appeared in Colliers and Harper's Weekly. Morrow had also written on such subjects as immigration, divorce, and the U.S. Reclamation Service, and had produced six novels. From 1914 to 1919, Morrow was editor of the Delineator, a woman's magazine.
Morrow's second husband, a publisher, died in 1931. The next year, she moved to England, where she lived in a 16th-century cottage on the Devon coast. She died of influenza while on a visit to her sister in Connecticut; she was survived by three children.
Morrow's early fiction shows her pleasure in and knowledge of the Southwest; her desert settings have been praised for their authenticity. Later, Morrow was to write of historical events with similar vividness and enthusiasm. An excellent example of her historical fiction is We Must March (1925), a dramatized account of the lives and labor of Marcus and Narcissa Whitman, missionaries to the Native Americans of the Far West, and their part in securing Oregon Territory.
Several of Morrow's best-known novels deal with Lincoln and the Civil War. Forever Free (1927), With Malice Toward None (1928), and The Last Full Measure (1930) were published as a trilogy under the title Great Captain, with a preface by William Lyon Phelps. "Honoré Morrow," Phelps wrote, "is at once an eminent research scholar and an eminent literary artist. She loves the truth and knows how to tell it." Sherwin Lawrence Cook of the Boston Transcript asserted that "she has made a more serious and enlightened study of [Lincoln] than any previous writer of fiction," and went on to say her portrayal of Lincoln was "without question the best."
Morrow wrote two notable nonfiction books about generally unpopular figures. The Father of Little Women (1927) deals sympathetically with Bronson Alcott, whom Morrow obviously admired as an intellectual and spiritual giant ahead of his time. Genuinely religious herself, she writes of him from an almost mystical point of view, and is in complete accord with his views on education. Mary Todd Lincoln (1928), Morrow's account of Lincoln's unhappy, much maligned wife, is sensitive, compassionate, and admiring.
Morrow's style is conversational, lucid, and only occasionally dramatic and "literary." It gives evidence of a warm sympathy with all kinds of people, plus a real pleasure in living.
Heart of the Desert (1913). Still Jim (1915). Lydia of the Pines (1916). Benefits Forgot (1917). The Forbidden Trail (1919). The Enchanted Canyon (1920). Judith of the Godless Valley (1922). The Exile of the Lariat (1923). The Devonshers (1924). On to Oregon! (1926). Splendor of God (1929). Tiger! Tiger! (1930). Black Daniel (1931). Beyond the Blue Sierra (1932). Argonaut (1933). Yonder Sails the Mayflower (1934). Let the King Beware (1935). Demon Daughter (1939).
NYT (13 Apr. 1949).
—ABIGAIL ANN HAMBLEN