Marie Manning Papers
Marie Manning was secretive about her age, even with her immediate family, and her exact date of birth is therefore unknown. She was born in Washington, D.C. to Elizabeth (Barrett) and Michael Charles Manning, probably on 22 January 1872. Manning was educated privately at various schools, graduating from Miss Kerr's, a Washington finishing school. Her mother died in childbirth when she was six and her father died when she was eighteen. In the early 1890s she visited relatives in England, where she "learned enough of English life" to write her first novel, Lord Alingham, Bankrupt, published in 1901.
In 1896, Manning met Arthur Brisbane, Editor of the New York World, who invited her to move to New York and join the writing staff at a "space rate" salary of approximately $5 per week. Upon obtaining an exclusive interview with President Grover Cleveland, something he had refused to the "star reporters" of the day, Manning was promoted to permanent staff at a salary of $30 per week. When Brisbane took a job at the New York Evening Journal in 1898, at his invitation Manning did so as well. She worked with two other women in what was known as the "Hen Coop," creating the women's page.
One day in 1898, Brisbane brought to the "Hen Coop" three letters from readers seeking advice about personal problems, because he believed the women were most qualified to reply. In response, Manning suggested a new column, to be devoted exclusively to dispensing personal advice. Manning and Brisbane agreed that a pen name was in order, whereupon Manning suggested Beatrice Fairfax, after Dante's Beatrice and the Manning family's country place in Fairfax County, Virginia. "Dear Beatrice Fairfax" premiered on 20 July 1898 as the nation's first "advice to the lovelorn" column. It was an immediate success, and the Journal's offices were so inundated with letters that the Post Office soon refused to deliver them and the Journal had to retrieve them by its own means. The column was distinguished by frank, commonsense advice and came to be widely imitated nationwide. Despite the "Dear Beatrice Fairfax" column's enormous popularity, not to mention the considerable time, effort and intellectual discipline it took to write it, Manning's job remained low in pay and in status, and she eventually resigned.
In 1905, Manning married Herman Edward Gasch and returned to Washington where she lived for the rest of her life. While devoting most of her time to raising their two sons, Manning and Oliver, she continued to write in her own name, submitting short stories for publication in Harper's Monthly, Collins, Ladies' Home Journal, and Woman's Home Companion. Due to losses suffered in the stock market crash in 1929, Manning asked Arthur Brisbane for a job; he obliged and she again took up writing the "Dear Beatrice Fairfax" column, which by then had been syndicated. She wrote the column until she died on 28 November 1945.
In addition to the novel Lord Alingham, Bankrupt (1902) and short stories for the various magazines, Manning also published three other books: Judith of the Plains (1903), Personal Reply (1943), and Ladies Now and Then (1945).