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Winnie Davis: Daughter of the Lost Cause by Heath Hardage Lee

Presenter: 
Heath Hardage Lee
Duration: 
(00:55:56)

On June 26, Heath Hardage Lee delivered a Banner Lecture entitled "Winnie Davis: Daughter of the Lost Cause."

Varina Anne “Winnie” Davis was the youngest daughter of Confederate president Jefferson Davis and his second wife, Varina Howell Davis. Winnie’s birth in June 1864 was hailed as a blessing by war-weary southerners. Her arrival seemed a good omen that might signify future victory. After the war, Winnie, who spent her early life as a genteel refugee and a European expatriate, was christened the “Daughter of the Confederacy” in 1886. This role was bestowed upon her by a southern society trying to come to terms with defeat. Particularly idolized by such organizations as the United Confederate Veterans and the United Daughters of the Confederacy, Winnie became an icon of the Lost Cause, eclipsing even her father in popularity. Her controversial engagement in 1890 to a northern lawyer, whose grandfather was a famous abolitionist, shocked her friends, family, and the southern groups that idolized her. She later moved to New York City, where she became a writer for family friend and newspaper baron Joseph Pulitzer at The World. Despite her blooming literary career, the young woman was unable to escape the looming legacy of the Lost Cause. Winnie Davis: Daughter of the Lost Cause is the first published biography of this little-known woman who unwittingly became the symbolic female figure of the defeated South.

Heath Hardage Lee, author of Winnie Davis: Daughter of the Lost Cause, is the History Series Coordinator at Salisbury House and Gardens in Des Moines, Iowa. She is a writer whose work has appeared in the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Charlotte Magazine, Charlotte Home Design, Charlotte Place, and Charlotte Business, and she regularly contributes to several blogs on history, art, and design.