My stack of her letters, I’m afraid, isn’t of any great interest to
anyone, now. They covered very personal discussions of health and
welfare of her devoted family – her sister (who was my mother) – letters
to me and to my first wife, regarding whose health “Lig” was most
solicitous. Most of the letters were hastily typed by herself or
her faithful Clare Gold a cousin of Mrs. C.E. Meriwether, who worked
with “Lig” over the years.”
Biography of Dorothy Dix
(November 18, 1861-December 16, 1951))
forerunner of today’s popular advice columnists, Elizabeth Meriwether
Gilmer, writing under the pen name Dorothy Dix, was America’s highest
paid and most widely read female journalist at the time of her death.
Her advice on love and marriage was syndicated in newspapers around the
world. With an estimated audience of 60 million readers, she
became a popular and recognized figure on her travels abroad.
Dorothy Dix was born
Elizabeth Meriwether daughter to Maria Winston Meriwether and William
Douglas. Elizabeth was the oldest of their three children.
Mary was the middle child, and Charles Edward the youngest. The
Meriwether family resided on the 5,000 acre Woodstock Plantation located
in both Montgomery County, Tennessee and Todd County, Kentucky.
age of twenty-four she married George O. Gilmer. “Having finished
school, I tucked up my hair and got married as was the tribal custom
among my people,” Elizabeth said. Her marriage was not a happy
one, but Elizabeth remained married to George, who was mentally unstable
and something of a misfit, until his death in 1929. After
eleven years of marriage Elizabeth suffered a nervous break down, and
her family brought her to the Gulf Coast for relaxation and time away
from her husband.
Here she met the owner
and editor of the New Orleans Picayune newspaper, Eliza Holbrook
Poitevent Nicholson, who bought a story from Elizabeth for publication
in the Picayune. Soon thereafter Elizabeth was hired by Mrs.
Nicholson as a reporter for the newspaper. This is how Elizabeth
got started on her journalism career. Elizabeth took her work
seriously, “I had a passion for newspaper work, and I set about learning
my trade with the zeal of a fanatic,” she explained. Soon she was
writing a weekly column for women titled “Sunday Salad,” which was
followed by her most famous writings “Dorothy Dix Talks.” Readers
liked her views on women, and she became a great success in a very short
Dix, her pseudonym, accepted an offer to work for the New York Journal,
owned by William Randolph Hearst, and for whom she was asked to write
“dramatic accounts tersely written in a personal style,” depicting the
temperance crusaders of the day, followed by murder investigative
reporting. However, she continued to write the “Dorothy Dix Talks”
column which by 1908 had become a daily, prominent and widely read
her years in New York she published several books on relationships
between husbands and wives, foibles of society, and domestic life in
general. Her books were mainly collections of her column writings
and became best sellers at the time they were published.
left New York in 1917 and returned to her much beloved New Orleans where
her family and friends remained. The year before she left New York
she accepted an offer from the Wheeler Syndicate, and later the Ledger
Syndicate, which allowed her to write, travel and socialize while
working from her home on Prytania Street.
writings were published in newspapers across the world, and she became
known as the most widely read, as well as the highest paid journalist
writing for newspapers. She said people told her things they
wouldn’t even tell to God, she became known as the “confidante of the
nation” and the “mother confessor to millions,” as she received
thousands of letters each week from readers around the world.
Dix was the most widely
read woman writer of her times, women and men sought advice from her for
over fifty years. At the peak of her popularity around 1940 her
writings were printed in 273 newspapers and read by an estimated 60
million people. Her career as an investigative newspaper reporter
included twenty years as one of the most widely known woman reporter of
Dix died of a heart problem at the age of 90. “For over fifty-five
years her name appeared over the column in which she gave advice to the
lovelorn and which was noted for its sympathy, common sense and
realism.” She left an estate to her family of two and a half
million dollars. Much hard work, diligence and smarts had made the
lowly paid reporter to the best known and highest paid woman journalist
in the country.
Fables of the Elite,
as Dorothy Dix. New York: Fenno, 1902
as Dorothy Dix. New York: Hearst’s International
Library, 1914; London: Low, 1914
Hearts a la Mode,
as Dorothy Dix. New York: Hearst’s International Library,
My Joy-Ride round the
World, as Dorothy Dix. London: Mills & Boon, 1922;
republished as My Trip round the World.
Philadelphia: Penn, 1924.
as Dorothy Dix. Philadelphia: Penn, 1925
Dorothy Dix - Her
Book: Every-day Help for Every-day People. New York &
London: Funk & Wagnalls, 1926
by Dorothy Dix. Gulfport, Miss.: C. Rand, 1934
How to Win and Hold a
Husband, as Dorothy Dix. New York: Doubleday, Doran,
“Mother Confessor to
Millions,” Times-Picayune New Orleans States Magazine, 5 May
1946, pp. 6-7
MAJOR POSITIONS HELD:
Reporter and columnist,
New Orleans Picayune, 1894-1901
New York Journal,
Scope and Content Notes
Dorothy Dix Collection is a special collection about a local writer with
an international reputation. Due to the foresight of former Austin Peay
State University head librarian, Ms. Johnnie Givens, who believed that a
potential wealth of research materials could be found in homes of
families and friends of regional writers in her service area, the
acquired collection meets an objective in developing materials important
to its region and is closely linked to those found in other collections.
Although there are several libraries with collections containing
information on Miss Dix, the largest such collection is housed in the F.
G. Woodward Library. The collection, culled from the A. Huntington
Patch materials, was donated to the Library by the Patch family of
Asheville, North Carolina, a favored nephew of Dix. Huntington’s
mother, Mary Patch, was the sister of Dorothy Dix.
collection has been added to and is now broader in content and holds
approximately 1,500 items: personal letters, scrapbooks and
journals from her many travels, copies of all her books, personal
mementoes, photographs, and mostly newspaper clippings of her writings.
The collection is organized into fifteen major categories with each
category separated into subheadings.
Researchers need to consult the Research
Guide listed below to locate specific items in the collection.
All documents are available in hard copies and on microfilm. The
Dorothy Dix Collection is housed in the Felix G. Woodward Library,
Austin Peay State University.
Box I –
folder - 5 items plus her diaries and books)
Box II – Biographical
(18 folders – 226 items)
Box III –
Writings by Dix (22
folders – 266 items)
Box IV – Writings on the Dix
Biography (5 folders – 53 items)
Box V – Writings about Dix’ Work by
Journalists and Readers, Short Quotes (2 folders – 99 items)
Box VI – Travel Diaries, Autograph
book and Scrap Books (3 folders –
Box VII – Newspaper Career (14
folders – 70 items)
Box VIII – Correspondence (4
folders – 150+ items)
Box IX – Travel (1
folder – 25 items)
Box X – Photographs from Newspapers
and Magazines and Newspapers (11
folders – 120+ items)
Box XI – Memorabilia (1 folder
– 32 items)
Box XII – Dorothy Dix Symposium
(1 folder – 14 items)
Box XIII – Dix Collection Administration and Procurement
– 54+ items)
Box XIV – Slides of Dix’ Life, the
Dorothy Dix Symposium and Woodstock (8
folders – 135 items)
Dorothy Dix home