BURIED TOGETHER

Partner Ellen Glasgow, buried together

Queer Places:
1 W Main St, Richmond, VA 23220
Hollywood Cemetery, 412 S Cherry St, Richmond, VA 23220

http://www.virginiamemory.com/blogs/out_of_the_box/wp-content/blogs.dir/5/files/women-wwi-part-1/37219_b040_base-hospital-45_015.jpgAnne Virginia Bennett (February 24, 1883 – December 9, 1956) intially was the nurse of Cary Glasgow (1864-1911), Ellen Glasgow's eldest sister. She would become Ellen's secretary and companion. Bennett's equanimity won the respect of all the members of the household. When any of the staff had a question, they went to her instead of Glasgow.

Bennett was a handsome, efficient woman who loved fashionable clothes, especially cashmere and black chiffon. Supposedly jilted by a doctor, she developed an unwavering contempt for men. She couldn't understand why the "good Lord hadn't created all women as strong-minded as herself." After 1916 Bennett became a permanent member of the Glasgow household and devoted her life to making Glasgow's more comfortable. "A.V." (as Glasgow called her) came to love One West Main and the woman who lived there more than her own nine brothers and sisters. When Glasgow traveled, Bennett insisted that she never felt lonely because the house seemed to hold Glasgow's presence in its very woodwork. If Glasgow became depressed, so did she. Bennett came to live through Glasgow, who depended on her and appreciated her without ever forgetting that she was the employer and Bennett the employee. Glasgow often entertained friends without her, for ex-ample, and after Glasgow died, no one treated Bennett as the chief mourner. Glasgow herself had not arranged for Bennett to be buried in the family plot at Hollywood Cemetery, and very few of her friends even invited Bennett to lunch or for a drive.

Bennett proved indispensable during Cary's illness. Like Eva Birdsong in The Sheltered Life, Cary suffered from uterine or possibly breast cancer: "She had all the horror Mother and so many women felt, of this particular malady," Glasgow explained. "But for this instinctive horror, as several physicians told me afterwards, she could easily have been saved in the beginning." Cary lived for a little more than a year longer, first as an invalid, then slipping in and out of consciousness over the last seven months. No one told her—or needed to tell her—the inevitable. Glasgow coped by trying to make Cary's summer as happy as possible. She rented the old Rose Cottage in Warm Springs and stocked it with her sister's favorite foods and European wines. At home, she made certain that Cary had around-the-clock care. It tells us something about Glasgow that above all she wanted Cary to assert her femininity against an illness that seemed to assault it. Dressed in tea-rose chiffon gowns and lace-trimmed bed-jackets that Glasgow selected, Cary looked, through her sister's eyes, lovely to the end: "She was so thin and frail that she seemed scarcely more than a child asleep. Her small child's face was of a delicate pink, and so transparent that it was like porcelain with a light shining through." During this time, Glasgow confided in no one except Berta Wellford and Anne Virginia Bennett. She hated the thought of people knowing more about her sister than Cary knew herself. Even Glasgow's father had not been told the truth about his daughter's condition for fear he would tell any casual acquaintance. Cary died on August 19, 1911. Glasgow selected a verse for her gravestone from the Bhagavad-Gita, a book they had studied together: "The unreal has no being," it reads. "The real never ceases to be."

During WWII Bennett volunteered for Red Cross service.

Bennett was Glasgow's will main beneficiary and she succedeed Glasgow as president of the SPCA.

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  1. Ellen Glasgow: A Biography by Susan Goodman JHU Press, 2003 - Biography & Autobiography - 308 pages