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Book - “Pru and I”
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Title: Book - “Pru and I”
Identifier: 979.6.1328
Donor: Geoffrey Sayers
Item Date: 1899
Creation Date: 2011
Location: Benares Historic House

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Description: A hard covered beige and green book entitled "Prue and I" by George William Curtis. Inside first page "Dear Naomi - Very Merry, X-mas from Gwendolyn 1900."

George William Curtis (1824-92) was born in Providence and lived in New York where he worked as a clerk. He travelled extensively to Europe, Egypt and Syria; these experiences helped shape his future articles and novels that he sent to the "New York Tribune". His articles include 'The Nile Notes of a Howadji' (1856), 'The Howadji in Syria' (1852), and 'Lotus Eaters' (1852). According to the "Cambridge History of English and American Literature", the novel "Prue and I" (1856) has been considered one of the most charming American books. It is a story about a poor man with the gift of imagination whose life is richer than the millionaire in the story. REF: A.W. Ward, A.R. Waller, W.P. Trent, J. Erskine, S.P. Sherman, and C. Van Doren (eds.) The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons; Cambridge, England: University Press, 1907-21).VOLUME XVII. Later National Literature, Part II ( ), 9-11.

The book belonged to Naomi Harris (1881-1968) and was given to her by her friend, Gwendolyn, for Christmas in 1900. Naomi Harris (1883-1968) was raised along with her sister Annie in an atmosphere of upper middle class comfort. They were educated at home by governesses, and then were sent to Miss Dupont's School for Ladies in Toronto, where they stayed with their aunts throughout the week. As Annie and Naomi grew up, Benares was a frequent area for lawn tennis matches, weekend parties, and croquet games on the lawn. Naomi never married and lived at Benares her whole life. She helped to take care of her mother, and continued to live alone in the house for 14 years after Mary’s death in 1954. Naomi was a life long member of St Peter’s Anglican Church in Erindale, where she was an integral part of the church’s many activities. Archdeacon Banks, the former rector of St. Peter’s, spoke of “Miss Harris’s deep attachment to St. Peter’s, her love of people, her unfailing interest in the children of the Sunday School and her work with the women’s auxiliary” during her funeral service in May, 1968. Naomi willed Benares to her two nieces and nephew who donated the estate and most of its contents to The Ontario Heritage Foundation. Ownership was later transferred to the City of Mississauga which has operated Benares as a museum since 1995.
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