Carrying the Torch

Maud Howe Elliott and the American Renaissance

Nancy Whipple Grinnell

Maud Howe Elliott (1854–1948), the daughter of Julia Ward Howe, was a Pulitzer Prize–winning writer and a tireless supporter of the arts, particularly in her adopted city of Newport, Rhode Island. An art historian and the author of over twenty works of fiction and nonfiction, including countless articles and short stories, Elliott is perhaps best known for co-writing a biography of her mother—a major figure in the political and cultural world of New England, a woman’s suffrage leader, and a leading progressive political voice. Elliott sought to enhance community and regional life by founding the Art Association of Newport in 1912 (now the Newport Art Museum), which she saw as the culmination of her life’s work. Nancy Whipple Grinnell has written an informative and inspiring biography that will appeal to a broad regional readership, finally securing Elliott’s place in the pantheon of American cultural benefactors.

Cover Image of Carrying the Torch: Maud Howe Elliott and the American Renaissance
E-book: $28.99
ISBN-13: 9781611684964
Pages: 204 | Size: 6 in. x 9 in.
Date Published: January 7, 2013

“A masterful and superbly researched biography of a figure central to the development of American art and culture in the period from 1880 to 1940.”

Richard Guy Wilson, University of Virginia


  • A masterful and superbly researched biography of a figure central to the development of American art and culture in the period from 1880 to 1940. Very progressive in her politics, Maud Howe Elliott was a popular author who appears to have known nearly everybody from Isabella Stewart Gardner to John La Farge and Albert Pinkham Ryder. This is a vital book for anybody interested in the arts in America.

    Richard Guy Wilson
    Commonwealth Professor and chair, Department of Architectural History, University of Virginia
  • Nancy Grinnell’s outstanding research and writing, drawing on very rich source material, and her witty, objective telling of the story of Maud Howe Elliott have brought us what will become one of the classics of American art history. This book is a must-read for all who care about American art. Read it, also, for insights into Newport society and into the essence of Yankee character.

    Sinclair Hitchings
    keeper of prints emeritus, Boston Public Library
  • Interweaving literature, society, and culture, Grinnell’s biographical tapestry reveals a woman whose life was privileged and civic-minded-and yet private and cloistered. Gracefully written and thoroughly documented, this illuminating book will be of interest to anyone intrigued by the last 150 years of New England (and especially Newport, Rhode Island) history.

    James L. Yarnall
    professor of art history and chair, Department of Art, Salve Regina University
  • The magic of this book lies in the intimate portrait of Elliott skillfully crafted and documented by Grinnell. By assembling anecdotes from personal letters and interviews, Grinnell gives us a cohesive and deeply psychological profile of a talented and conflicted woman.

    Catherine Little Bert
    Bert Gallery

About the Author

NANCY WHIPPLE GRINNELL is curator and archivist at the Newport Art Museum.

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