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The Anya Seton Papers Edit


Finding Aid Author
Originally processed by Susan Richardson & Kendra Fox, with a register prepared by Kendra Fox, 1994; Susan Richardson, 1997; translations of German letters by Elinor Gottesmann; partially reprocessed by Kirsten M. Jensen February 2022; finding aid edited by Amy Braitsch, 2003; finding aid transcribed into ArchivesSpace by Ashley Aberg November 2023.
Finding Aid Date
November 28, 2023
Description Rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Finding Aid Note
Part of the Manuscript Collections, Greenwich Historical Society Contact: Christopher Shields, Curator of Library and Archives 47 Strickland Road Cos Cob, CT 06807 United Stated


  • 1860-1995 (Creation)


  • 25 Linear Feet (Whole)



  • Scope and Contents

    Correspondence, drafts, financial records, photographs, and memorabilia document the life and work of historical novelist Anya Seton. Seton is best known for her books, "The Winthrop Woman" and "Katherine." The bulk of this collection concerns her publications and includes manuscripts, correspondence with publishers, research materials, drafts, reviews, publicity, and royalty staements. Other material relates to her parents, Ernest Thompson and Grace Gallatin Seton, and her children.

  • Legal Status

    The Anya Seton Papers are the physical property of the Greenwich Historical Society. Literary rights, including copyright, may belong to the authors or their legal heirs and assigns. For further information, consult the archivist.

  • Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], the Anya Seton Papers, Greenwich Historical Society

  • Processing Information

    This collections was reprocessed in 2002 in order to arranged and describe recent additions to the papers. Series V Publications were not reprocessed at this time. Additional processing notes relevant to each series are described in the series description where applicable.

  • Arrangement

    This collection has been arranged into six series.

    Series I: Biographical and Personal Material, 1904-1995 Series II: Family Material, 1898-1992 Series III: Correspondence, 1912-1995 Series IV: Financial Records, 1946-1990 Series V: Publications, 1939-1990 Series VI: Photographs, 1860-1994

  • Related Materials

    The papers of Grace Gallatin Seton, Anya Seton's mother, are located at the Schlesinger Library, at Radcliffe College. Ernest Thompson Seton's papers are house at the Academy for the Love of Learning, Santa Fe, New Mexico. The papers of Hamilton Cottier are located at Princeton University.

  • Biographical / Historical

    Anya Seton, born Ann Seton, (1904-1990) was the daughter of British-American author and naturalist Ernest Thompson Seton (1860-1946) and Grace Gallatin Seton (1875-1959), a suffragist, travel writer, and big game hunter. During her childhood, she spent much time in Europe with her mother, and was very proud of her fluency in French, often using French when writing in her journals and in letters to friends. While traveling with her parents, Ann received instruction by governesses; she later attended the Spence School in New York City, from which she graduated in 1921.

    Shortly after her graduation from Spence, Ann married Hamilton Cottier (Ham) in 1923. Their courtship was carried out primarily through correspondence during Ann's tour of Egypt, Greece, and Europe with her mother from 1921-1922. Following their marriage, Hamilton and Anya traveled to Oxford, where Hamilton completed graduate work towards an M.Phil. in English. They returned to Princeton where Hamilton became an Instructor in the English Department (1925-1930). The couple had two children, Pamela Cottier Forcey (1925-2019) and Seton Cottier (1928-1979). Ann tried to fit in with Princeton society, but was not very happy in the marriage. She began an affair with Hamilton Chase in 1929, and moved to Reno in 1930 for the necessary three-month residency to obtain a divorce. Ann and Hamilton Cottier were divorced in February 1930, and within a month Ann married Hamilton M. Chase (Chan), with whom she had one daughter, Clemency "Zizi" Chase Coggins (b. 1934). This marriage ended in divorce in 1968.

    Ann began writing short stories in the 1930s as a means to earn additional income without leaving her children. She received mostly rejection slips until she "discovered" Aaron Burr's daughter, Theodosia, who became the subject of her first novel in 1941. Around 1937 she becan dropping "Ann" informally and by 1940 had assumed the name "Anya" in both her professional and personal life. As Anya Seton she was the author of ten historical and biographical novels of considerable popularity in both the United States and abroad: My Theodosia (1941), Dragonwyck (1944), The Turquoise (1946), The Hearth and Eagle (1948), Foxfire (1951), Katherine (1954), The Winthrop Woman (1958), Devil Water (1962), Avalon (1965), and Green Darkness (1973). Many of these novels topped best-seller lists and remained there for several weeks. She also wrote three works for young adults: The Mistletoe and Sworng (1955), Washington Irving (1960), and Smouldering Fire (1975). In addition to her novels, she wrote short pieces for major magazines such as "The Writer" and "Ladies' Home Hournal" as well as a column in the Old Greenwich weekly, "The Village Gazette."

    Anya Seton was active in the Greenwich community, where she lived most of her life. She lived in several Greenwich proeprties, most of which are still standing: Wyndygoul, De Winton, Little Peequo, and Sea Rune, which she built with Hamilton Chase in 1950-1951. In addition to the many speeches and lectures she gave, she participated in events for The Historical Society of the Town of Greenwich (now the Greenwich Historical Society) and the Mystery Club, led historic tours of Greenwich and Tod's Point (now knowns as Greenwich Point), composed the lyrics for the "Sond of Connecticut" and edited a play "The King's Cream Puffs" for local production. Her professional honors include The Award of Distinction from the National League of American Pen Women (1957) and a Citation of Honor from The Society of Colonial Wars (1957-1958). Anya Seton died at her home in Old Greenwich on November 8, 1990.

  • General

    Related accession numbers: A.1990.095, A.1995.013, A.1996.082, A.1998.034, A.1999.013, A.1999.026

  • General

    The following abbreciations for family members have been used throughout this guide:

    ASC: Anya Seton Chase HMC: Hamilton Mercer Chase (Second husband; known as "Chan") CCC: Clemency Chase Coggins (Daughter; known as "Zizi") HC: Hamilton Cottier (First husband; known as "Ham") PFC: Pamela Cottier Forcey (Daughter; known as "Pam") SC: Seton Cottier (Son) ETS: Ernest Thompson Seton (Father of Anya Seton) GGS: Grace Gallatin Seton (Mother of Anya Seton; called Loti by her grandchildren)

  • Conditions Governing Access

    There are no conditions governing access to this material.