November 29, 1878: Writer Margaret Prescott Montague Born
Writer Margaret Prescott Montague was born at White Sulphur Springs on November 29, 1878. Her books, which were set mostly in the southern mountains, included The Poet, Miss Kate, and I; The Sowing of Alderson Cree; Calvert’s Valley; and Linda—all written before she’d turned 35.
Her brother was superintendent of the West Virginia School for the Deaf and Blind in Romney. Montague’s interest in his students inspired her book Closed Doors.
Montague departed from mountain themes with “England to America.” This World War I story, which won the O. Henry Award, was praised by President Woodrow Wilson and considered to be a plea for a league of nations.
In 1923, she published Deep Channel, which offered character studies of mountain people. That same year, she wrote two stories featuring the mythic lumberman Tony Beaver, West Virginia’s version of Paul Bunyan. Her Tony Beaver tales were collected into the book Up Eel River. Montague claimed that Eel River and its inhabitants were products of the fertile imaginations of West Virginia woodsmen. Although, it’s possible she invented them herself.
Montague died in Richmond, Virginia, at age 76.