Biographical / Historical
Anna Wharton was born in Philadelphia on July 15, 1868. Her father, Joseph Wharton (1826-1909), was a wealthy industrialist. He married Anna Corbit Lovering (1830-1914) in 1854 at the Cherry Street Meeting House in Philadelphia. Two children preceeded Anna: Joanna (1858-1938), who married Joshua Bertram Lippincott in 1885, and Mary Lovering (1862-1923), who never married. The Whartons moved to Ontalauna near Old York Road, Philadelphia, in 1881. Their summer residence, Marbella, was at Conanicut, west of Newport, Rhode Island.
Anna was educated at Mrs. Head's School in Germantown and took private lessons in French and music. In June of 1896, Anna Wharton married Harrison Smith Morris, son of George Washington Morris and his wife, Catharine (Harris) Morris. Even though Morris was not a Friend, Green Street Monthly Meeting gave permission for the marriage to proceed under the care of the Meeting. The service took place at her father's house in the Quaker manner with over 140 witnesses. Anna Wharton Morris remained a member of Green Street Monthly Meeting and was active in the Society of Friends throughout her life.
Harrison S. Morris was born in Philadelphia on October 4, 1856. He had two younger sisters, Matilda Harris Morris and Jane Walters Morris, who never married. At the age of sixteen he went to work for the Reading Coal & Iron Company to help support his parents, who were in ill health. In 1893 he became the managing director of the Philadelphia Academy of the Fine Arts, a position which he held until 1905. Morris also served as editor of Lippincott's Magazine, art editor of the Ladies Home Journal, and chairman of the Ways and Means Committee of the National Academy of Design. From 1909-1917 he was president of the Wharton Steel Company. His activities brought him in contact with leaders in the artistic and literary world. He also wrote and published his own works, in both English and Italian, on Roman history, literature, and culture, as well as at least 17 volumes of poetry, fiction, and essays.
Anna and Harrison's only child, Catharine Wharton Morris, nicknamed "Kit," was born on Jan. 26, 1899. In April 1905, Anna underwent a hysterectomy, the first of a number of surgeries and hospital stays that are documented in the Journals. The Morris family traveled to Europe in 1906, 1910, 1911 (when Harrison was appointed as United States Commissioner for the International Exhibition of Art and History in Rome), and 1914 (when they witnessed the beginning of World War I in France). These trips and the visit to California in 1917 are described in separate travel journals. At home, Anna wrote numerous essays, short stories, and poetry, and participated in Philadelphia's rich social and cultural life. Home was at the "Annex" on the Wharton property near Old York Road until 1926 and then "Pear Hill."
In 1913, Anna Wharton Morris became deeply interested in prison reform. This concern probably stemmed from her horror over newspaper reports of cruelty to the young inmates at Glen Mills. In 1914, she met Thomas Mott Osborne, the famous prison reform advocate; the two formed a close friendship which lasted until his sudden death in 1926. Anna's reports of conditions in prisons throughout the country and, particularly, in the Philadelphia region, are preserved in her journals.
In 1925, "Kit" married Sydney Longstreth Wright, Jr., the son of Mr. & Mrs. William Redwood Wright of "Waldheim" in Germantown. Harrison Smith Morris died on April 12, 1948. Anna Wharton Morris died on June 21, 1957, at the age of eighty-eight. Catharine "Kit" Morris Wright died in 1988.