Asa Holmes

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A popular children's author who created several juvenile fiction series at the turn of the twentieth century, Annie Fellows Johnston is best remembered for the Little Colonel books. The charming novel Asa Holmes recounts the remarkable life story of one of the denizens of that pillar of rural life, the country store.

Annie Fellows Johnston (1863–1931) was an American author of children's fiction who wrote the popular The Little Colonel series, which was the basis for the 1935 Shirley Temple film The Little Colonel; many of the books were illustrated by photographer Kate Matthews. She was born and grew up in McCutchanville, Indiana, a small unincorporated town near Evansville, Indiana.

Johnston was born Annie Julia Fellows Johnston, daughter of Albion Johnston, a minister, and Mary Erskine Fellows. She had a brother, Erwin, and two sisters, Lura and Albion. She attended the University of Iowa for one year, returned to Evansville, taught school for three years, then became a private secretary. She married a cousin, William L. Johnstone. He was a widower with three children, Rena, John, and Mary. Rena died in 1899 and John in 1910 or 1911.

Johnston moved to Pewee Valley in 1898, the move becoming permanent in 1911. There, she lived until her death at "The Beeches" with her stepdaughter, artist Mary Gardener Johnston. The Beeches was built in 1901 by “Mamie” Craig Lawton, widow of Gen. Henry Ware Lawton, who was the only general killed during the Spanish–American War. Members of the Craig family inspired 12 characters in the “Little Colonel” stories.

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