A Woman of Texas: Mrs. Percy V. Pennybacker. By Rebecca
San Antonio: The Naylor Company, 1941. Pp. ix, 356. $2.75.
It is proper that the first biography of any important person,
the life authorized by the family, should be a factual record
done in a spirit of loyal admiration. Such books, say, as Albert
Bigelow Paine's monumental life of Mark Twain or Mrs. Gaskill's
life of Charlotte Bront6, become the foundation for all future
research. They make the basic facts available for study and re-
evaluation. Rebecca Richmond's A Woman of Texas: Mrs.
Percy V. Pennybacker is a valuable, interesting first biography
of an important cultural figure in the Southwest. Frankly ap-
preciative and uncritical, it reflects the remarkable loyalty and
reverence which Mrs. Pennybacker inspired in her many friends
and innumerable followers, which is to say, in virtually every-
body who ever knew her.
This woman of Texas stands out clearly in the book as an
original teacher, a skillful writer, a successful organizer, and
a superb public speaker. She was, moreover, one who believed
unquestioningly in God, in her fellowmen, and in her own
powers. It is likely that some day other writers will study Anna
H. Pennybacker, biographers who will not have known the spell
of her voice or her seemingly irresistible persuasiveness. Those
more detached biographers will weigh her achievements as part
of the struggle of American women for self-expression; they
may see Mrs. Pennybacker and her generation as transition
figures between Godey's Lady's Book and the modern woman.
But no thoughtful student of American culture can ignore the
woman's club, the Chautauqua, or the idealistic movements of
the early twentieth century; and in this whole chapter of our
national life Mrs. Pennybacker looms large.
The Hardwickes of Virginia, whose daughter Anna was born
in 1861, came after the war to Bryan, Texas. Anna's girlhood
epitomizes a phase of Southern life which has been almost
neglected by fictionists, namely, the passionate desire of many
young ladies for book learning and culture. Always brilliant
and sure of her own ends, Anna became a teacher and later
the author of the most famous of all Texas history books. In
the meantime, she was happily married to Percy V. Penny-
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 45, July 1941 - April, 1942. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth146053/. Accessed April 16, 2014.