Grace Smith Richmond, an 1884 initiate Gamma Phi Beta’s Alpha chapter, was a much-loved author. The daughter of a clergyman, she married Nelson Guernsey Richmond, a doctor, in 1887. Two of her more memorable characters had these professions – Robert McPherson Black was the clergyman and Redfield “Red” Pepper Burns was the doctor.
A resident of Fredonia, NY, her first short story debuted in print in 1891. Her second short story was published in 1898. Her first book, The Indifference of Juliet, appeared in 1905.
The January 1905 Crescent of Gamma Phi Beta carried this note, “Short stories by Grace Smith Richmond, Alpha, ’84. are appearing frequently in the best magazines. In the January McClure’s appeared Billy’s Orgy, a cleverly written story. In addition, several other magazines have announced Mrs. Richmond as a contributor for the coming year.”
The Exchanges section of the January 1909 Anchora of Delta Gamma carried this about the author, “Grace Smith Richmond, the author of many pleasing short stories for girls, and a Gamma Phi Beta from Syracuse, has two new books out for the holidays. Round the Corner in Gay Street and Christmas Day in the Morning are published by Doubleday, Page & Co.
One of her characters was Mrs. Redding. According to this account in the 1921 Story of Gamma Phi Beta, “Grace Smith Richmond, Alpha, engaged in a splendid and unique service of her own with Mrs. Redding as medium. In regard to Mrs. Redding Sees It Through, Mrs. Richmond wrote, ‘Dear me what shall I do with your question? As fast as Mrs. Redding can earn it, she sends her checks to one war fund after another because that’s what she’s for. Royalties from books and other work do other things but Mrs. Redding works for the war alone. Well she’s sent an ambulance and driver to France, the ambulance bears the brass name plate, Carry On. This July, she is financing my daughter Marjorie in going into YMCA work as an assistant secretary at Camp Upton, regular canteen work entertaining the boys, etc. These positions, though difficult enough to get, bring no salary or upkeep. It is all voluntary work. I am very happy about this. In fact, Mrs. Redding gets her hand in wherever she can and is mighty happy, too, about the letters she gets telling her that people are a bit the stronger in courage for her words. Those words do surely come out of her heart for my boy is in the air in the most dangerous of all possible service and of course she is very much influenced by me. But I assure you she keeps my own pluck up. I couldn’t have done it without her.’”
She published about a book a year for more than two decades. This snippet from the 1921 History of Gamma Phi Beta seems to sum it up, “Many a Gamma Phi star twinkles in the literary heaven. Grace Smith Richmond, Alpha, has endeared herself to thousands of households through her charming stories.” Amazon.com has made many of her books available for free in kindle format.
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