Historic Pelham

Presenting the rich history of Pelham, NY in Westchester County: current historical research, descriptions of how to research Pelham history online and genealogy discussions of Pelham families.

Friday, March 02, 2007

A Brief Account by American Author Margaret Deland of Her Education at Pelham Priory in the 19th Century

Noted 19th century American author Margaret Wade Campbell Deland attended school at Pelham Priory (also known as Bolton Priory). Bolton Priory, built by Rev. Robert Bolton and his family in 1838 still stands and is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places.

Margaret Deland was born in Allegheny, Pennsylvania on February 23, 1857. She married Lorin F. Deland in 1880. According to some sources, shortly after their marriage, the couple provided shelter and support for unmarried mothers. At about this time she began to write. She wrote novels, short stories and poetry (as well as a two-volume autobiography.

Her best known work is the novel entitled John Ward, Preacher published in 1888. She lived much of her life in Boston and continued to write until shortly before her death on January 13, 1945.

Portions of an interview with Margaret Deland appeared in a book published in 1903. During that interview, Ms. Deland described her education at Pelham Priory in the 19th century. The pertinent excerpt of that interview appears immediately below, followed by a full citation to its source.

"In answer to a question as to the influence college life had had upon her intellectual development, the writer was told that she had never been to college. 'When I was seventeen I went to Pelham Priory to boarding-school -- a delightful old school kept by English ladies. In those days the girls had no examinations, and they studied or not, as they wanted to. They were instructed in deportment and religion, to respect their elders and betters, to enter and leave the room with dignity, to fear God, and to disregard man as much as possible, for, as the housekeeper remarked to me once, 'The hactions of the young ladies in regard to young gentlemen are so hexceedingly silly.' Other things were incidental, and might or might not be acquired, according to the inclination of the pupils. My inclination, I suppose, was neither for religion nor deportment, and certainly not for the ordinary branches of education. The result is that I am a very ill-educated woman to-day. After this episode I studied at the Cooper Institute for a year, and then taught mechanical and industrial drawing at the New York Normal College.'"

Source: Halsey, Francis Whiting, ed., Women Authors of Our Day in Their Homes - Personal Descriptions & Interviews, p. 56 (NY, NY: James Pott & Company 1903).

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