Genevieve B. Wimsatt

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Genevieve B. Wimsatt book

GENEVIEVE WIMSATT 18 Dec 1882 - May 1967 20007 (Washington, District Of Columbia, DC) (none specified) 219-20-1051 Maryland

A Well of Fragrant Waters

The Lyric Utterances of Hung Tu

The Story of Her Life

and Her Poetic Techniques


The heroine of the Well of Fragrant Waters is Hung Tu. She was the first female private secretary of China, and her appointment by Governor Wei Kao of Ssech’uan raised such a storm in the Four Streams Province that the T’ang world shook with its echoes.

She was the resident hostess of the Ch’engtu Ya-men under eleven successive governors, "pouring the wine" to the satisfaction of ten of these worthies, banished by the one exception from whom she withheld her favors. The unloved magistrate was later convicted of treason, and the exile recalled.

She exchanged verses with the outstanding poets of the court; harmonized lyrics with the highest of T’ang officials; loved and quarreled with Yuan Chen, the blazing literary and diplomatic light who, though almost a score of years her junior, cherished her memory down to the Yellow Springs.

How could a seeker trailing the footsteps of literary ladies of China, shadowing Yang, Empress of the Southern Sung, and Yu Hsuan-chi, the Taoist nun, by-pass the singing courtesan of Ch’eng-tu? Peking, the Peking of yellow roofs and encroaching twilight, where biographical material was abundant, launched the project; Ch’eng-tu, where the site of Hung Tu’s old villa beside the Silken River is still preserved as a municipal park, beckoned the author up the Long River in those brooding days just before the storm. With the West China Union University as guide and helper, Miss Wimsatt visited Hung Tu’s park—by wheelbarrow, drank from her well of fragrant waters, and best of all, secured "rubbings" or "squeezes" from the incised tablets perpetuating the likeness of the sprightly adventuress and reproducing her authentic calligraphy.

Now for the first time, the pioneer "Career Girl" of China strews her fir-blossom pages on the Western world.

About the Author

Born in Washington, D.C., of the third generation, Miss Genevieve B. Wimsatt was educated at old Georgetown Convent. A world traveler, Red Cross worker in the last war, editor of a woman’s magazine in Tientsin, and a very successful author of several books, Miss Wimsatt has crossed the Pacific six times to sojourn in Asia for periods vary- - ing from a few months to several years. She studied, wrote, and established a home in Peking, then pushed up the Yangtzu as far as Chungking, and on her latest trip advanced, a one-woman scouting party, into K’un Ming itself.

"That was like lapsing back into the T’ang Dynasty," Miss Wimsatt relates of the Yunnan adventure. "There venerable scholars in goggling spectacles still practiced elegant calligraphy in vermillion halls and brought out hoarded paintings of the Round Moon Beauty for the visitor’s wonderment. At the station, - groups of literati, emerging specter-like from the morning mists, materialized on the platform to perform that most touching and gracious of Chinese social gestures, the presentation of parting poems to the voyager.

"It’s a dream," she told herself. "It can’t last." Sure enough, it didn’t. No sooner was her back turned than the enchanting bubble burst. Two weeks after her departure China was invaded.

In the meantime, unable to betake herself to China, Miss Wimsatt has brought China - to Washington in the small Chinese house where the bamboos grow high, and the Gate Gods swagger on the garage doors, and the familiar greeting, P’ing An, carved in Old Seal characters, ornaments the door lintel.

Here were written several of Miss Wimsatt’s later books, The Bright Concubine, Chinese Shadow Shows, Selling Wilted Peonies, and Apricot Cheeks and Almond - Eyes. Also, A Well of Fragrant Waters.

Her parents were

William Abell Wimsatt Born: 1855 in DC Died: 07 Feb 1929 in DC +Florence Josephine Cleary Born: 04 Jul 1855 in DC Married: 30 Sep 1879 in Washington, D. C. Died: 17 Apr 1929 There were twelve children. Genevieve was the third born: 18 Dec 1882. William Abell Wimsatt was involved in the lumber business, co-owner of Johnson-Wimsatt Lumber. He had a elevator in his houseand and a private golf course on his property.

A picture of Florence Josephine Cleary and her older sister Genevieve Blance Cleary (after whom she named her duaghter, Genevieve Blanche Wimsatt) can be found here

along with Florence Josephine's youthful memories of the Civil War in Washington, DC and some family history. The family seems to have been Catholic.

Florence Josephine Wimsatt married and became Mrs. Lenox Riley Lohr

Someone posated: For purposes of academic research, I wish to contact living descendants of Mrs. Lohr, as I am interested in finding out more about her sister, Genevieve Wimsatt (1882-1967). I can be reached at Many thanks.

She attended a private Catholic school: Georgetown Visitation Convent rbpe20801600))

She demonstrated for female suffrage:

Official program woman suffrage procession. Washington, D. C. March 13, 1913.

MISS GENEVIEVE WIMSATT, a resident of Washington and Maryland, and a graduate of Georgetown Visitation Convent, is often seen in the parks on one of the horses from her father's country home, "Kinkora," in Montgomery county, Maryland, Miss Wimsatt, who is organizing the Cavalry Section of the Woman Suffrage Procession, was one of the first women in Washington to ride in divided skirts, and rides both side-saddle and cross saddle. rbpe20801600))


-- with a picture of her on a horse at


She was a member of the Society of Women Geographers:


Society of Woman Geographers A Register of Its Records in the Library of Congress Prepared by Karen Stuart Revised and expanded by Karen Linn Femia with the assistance of Brian McGuire Wimsatt, Genevieve, 1926-1967 [mmbership records]

She graduated from George Washington University in 1931.


GW Graduates 1930-1937

She donated an Asian Crested Mynah bird to the National Zoological Park in Washington DC, and about it one can read in

Mann, William M., 1886-1960 / Wild animals in and out of the zoo (1930)

Chapter XX: wings, pp. 232-260

The crested mynah from Eastern Asia, which is now a common inhabitant in parts of British Columbia, has been represented by only one specimen, which came here as a gift from the writing traveler, Miss Genevieve Wimsatt. When it arrived at the Zoo it would call a 'ricksha in Chinese and whistle a bar or two of song in the same language, but the report that it read for the keepers their Chinese laundry slips is gross exaggeration.

See: type=turn&entity=HistSciTech000500100415&isize=text

Her childhood home, "Kinkora," became a Xaverian Brothers' college when it was purchased in 1931 on behalf of the Catholic Church by Brother Osmund Gallagher, the fifth provincial of the American Province (1928-1934).

From "Brother Osmund Gallagher" by Brother Paul Feeney, CFX :

"After pursuing several sites for the housing of the young Brothers, almost as an afterthought, he finally settled upon the 325-acre plot known as Kinkora, a name given to the property by the previous owner, William Wimsatt, and bought it for a sum of $80,000 in September of 1931. To finance the purchase of the property, Brother Osmund took out life insurance policies on all the perpetually professed Brothers to provide collateral for the sale. His was a very bold and courageous move. A more cautious, fiscally-conservative person would have waited or would have proceeded with much timidity. One can only marvel at his faith, his determination, and his courage. To conduct business as he did had to be either completely foolhardy or truly Spirit-driven. One must constantly remind oneself that 1931 was the make-or-break year of the Great Depression. The country’s economic turnaround would not begin until Franklin Roosevelt assumed office in the White House. Yet, here was feisty, impetuous Brother Osmund, overflowing with love and passion, the divinely blessed risk-taker, the faith-filled servant of God and loyal son of Ryken, who would not let the collapsing economic world and the scary newspaper headlines deter him from providing a quality education for his young Xaverians. He courageously marched on, believing that God would abundantly provide. And over forty years He surely did. In 1933, in recognition for his outstanding service to Catholic education, Mount St. Mary’s College in Emmitsburg, Maryland, conferred on him an honorary doctorate."

See: org/pdf/N%25206%2520Brother%2520Osmund.pdf+%22kinkora%22+maryland+ wimsatt&hl=en&gl=us&ct=clnk&cd=1

Short stories:


  • The Diagnostican (ss) All-Story Weekly Aug 19 1916
  • How Does Your Garden Grow? (ss) All-Story Weekly Sep 8 1917
  • A Happy Ending (ss) All-Story Weekly Nov 15 1919
  • Hyacinth Hounds Argosy All-Story Weekly Weekly: December, Dec. 25,


  • Black Truth (ss) Munsey’s Aug 1921


Wimsatt, Genevieve. The Curious Puppet Shows of China. Travel[magazine], December; 1925. See

Unknown article in The Antiquarian [magazine] Vol. X No. 6, July, 1928. seen for sale on ebay, January 2007.

"Was She Theodosia Burr?" / [by] Genevieve Wimsatt / [with] photos of: - entrance to Gadsbys Tavern, Alexandria, Virginia - the grave of the female stranger in St. Paul's burial ground, Alexandria, Virginia - Theodosia Burr, from a painting by Gilbert Stuart. The Mentor [magazine] October, 1928

GENEVIEVE B. WIMSATT. Art and Archictecture [magazine] 27 141,. 175-85. (1929). The faience animals and grotesques on Chinese roofs are not accidental but ... (page can only be accssed with paid subscription)


Wimsatt, Genevieve, A Griffin in China, Fact and Legend in the Everyday Life of the Great Republic Funk & Wagnalls, 1927. First Edition. Hardcover. 252 pages. clean, tight, no marks, dust jacket (good +) has some edgewar and light tearing at edge of spine and top flap (minor). Gilt ffep, non-price clipped.. Very Good in Good dust jacket . USD 12.14 Offered by: Bibliotique - Book number: 320697

Wimsatt, Genevieve B. The Bright Concubine and Lesser Luminaries Boston: John W. Luce and Company, (1928). 19.5 cm, 204 pp. Bound in decorated paper-covered boards with cloth shelfback. Fore-and bottom edges untrimmed. A very good copy. USD 10.94 Offered by: The Book Bin, Inc. - Corvallis - Book number: BBC-0K6390y

Wimsatt, Genevieve, Selling Wilted Peonies. Biography and Songs of Yu Hsuan-Chi, T'ang Poetess. Columbia University Press, 1936. The T'ang Dynasty (A.D. 618-907) was the great age of poetry. This is a charming biography of the concubine turned nun, Yu Hsuan-Chia, one of the most famous poets of her time. See:

First Edition, First printing: Thin hardback quarto in gray cloth decorated in gray, green and pink including an impressive pair of peonies. [120] pages illustrated by chapter headings in pink. Limited edition of 600 copies, only the first 540 being for sale.

Copy with inscription: A copy (#8 of 600) of Selling Wilted Peonies exists with a lengthy presentation inscription to William Habberley "who helped make this book -- and may he help with several more", followed by an eight line poem in the author's hand. As for Ahnnerly, he was born on Nov. 11, 1869 in Massachusett. Habberley manufactured shoes while painting in his leisure. He retired to Berkeley, CA in 1933 and remained there until his death on Jan. 25, 1949.

Review: A biography of Yu Xiangji, Genevieve Wimsatt's Selling Wilted Peonies (1936), takes a cautious approach, including poems as they were written, with their dedication, and builds to an emotional climax during the triangular relationship with Li Zian and his "vinegar wife" ("drinking vinegar", as Wimsatt explains, is a Chinese colloquialism for conjugal jealousy). Wimsatt's account, closer to history than fiction, sometimes reaches greater heights of intensity than Hill's invention, and sometimes her choice of words is finer. Hill uses late 20th-century nouns such as "invites" and has Lily reading aloud a poem, "Selling Peonies", and noticing a slug crawling under a very unlikely lettuce leaf. Wimsatt translates the poem's title as "Selling Wilted Peonies", conveying far more with that one word. See:,6121,1292336,00. html

Wimsatt, Genevieve and Geoffrey Chen. (translators) The Lady of the Long Wall, a Ku Shih Or Drum Song of China. New York, Columbia University Press, 1934, Limited Ed., Large 8vo, 84 pp. There was a mass market edition and a limited edition, Red cloth, 550 copies. Covering the life and times of Ch'in Shih Huang Ti, the Ku Shih, or Drum Songs of China. Written in five Cantos: Leaving the Village. In the Dream. Overnight at the Inn. Sighs on the Road. Recognizing the Bones. An open edition may also exist.

Wimsatt, Genevieve, Chinese Shadow ShowW. Harvard University Press 1936, a documentary book on Chinese shadow puppets.

Wimsatt, Genevieve. Apricot Cheeks and Almond Eyes. New York 1939, Columbia University Press. Blue cloth., 7 b.w. plates. Biography of the Empress Yang of the Southern Sung Dynasty, with a collection of her delicate & poignant poems.

Wimsatt, Genevieve. A Lady Like the Moon -- Historical novel of old china. First Edition Binding: Hard Cover Publisher: Berrnard Ackerman Incorporated Date Published: 1943 Description: Good in Good jacket. Dust jacket with attractive art.

Wimsatt, Genevieve, A Well Of Fragrant Waters. A Sketch of the Life and Writings of Hung Tu. John W. Luce Company, 1945. Very good in a chipped dust jacket. The life and writings of Hung Tu : the first female private secretary of China. Another edition of 1954 noted on the net.

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