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Mary Crawford Fraser

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Mary Crawford Fraser

Mary Crawford Fraser (April 8, 1851[1] – 1922), usually known as Mrs. Hugh Fraser, was a writer noted for her various memoirs and historical novels.[2]

She was born in Italy to the American sculptor Thomas Crawford and Louisa Cutler Ward, and was the sister to novelist Francis Marion Crawford and the niece of Julia Ward Howe (the American abolitionist, social activist, and poet most famous as the author of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic"). Her father died when she was young, and she was raised in Italy, as well as in England and New Jersey. She was educated at a girls' boarding school run by the Sewell sisters, famous for their contribution to Victorian educational literature, on the Isle of Wight.[3] The school received a number of pupils whose parents lived or worked in the British colonies and the sisters also took their charges on a number of foreign trips.[4] She credits the school with providing her with many of the skills necessary to be successful as a diplomat's wife, including proper correspondence and social graces.[5] As the wife of British diplomat Hugh Fraser, whom she married in 1874, she followed her husband to his postings in Peking, Vienna, Rome, Santiago, and Tokyo. In Rome in 1884, over the opposition of her mother, she converted to Catholicism.[6]

In 1889, her husband Hugh Fraser was posted to Japan as "Minister Plenipotentiary and Envoy Extraordinary (head of the British Legation) to Japan—a diplomatic ranking just below that of full Ambassador. before the establishment of full and equal relations between Britain and Japan which Fraser was, in fact, negotiating. A month before the signing of the final treaty, her husband died suddenly in 1894, leaving her a widow after twenty years of marriage.

Still under her married name of Mrs. Hugh Fraser, she was the author of Palladia (1896), The Looms of Time (1898), The Stolen Emperor (1904), A Diplomatist's Wife in Japan (1912) and Italian Yesterdays (1913).

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