Fairfield native authors biography of Winnsboro’s Hanna Rion

Fairfield County native Kitt R. McMaster III authored a revealing cradle-to-grave biography that focuses on the artistic talents and unconventional lifestyle of Winnsboro’s Hanna Rion.

A brief sketch of Rion’s life

McMaster’s biographies of Hanna Rion and Col. James Henry Rion are available for purchase online from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and similar outlets.

Hanna Rion was born in Winnsboro in 1874 to James Henry and Mary Catherine Rion, who had both made significant contributions to life in Fairfield County.  James Henry Rion moved to Winnsboro to teach at Mt. Zion after graduating first in his class at South Carolina College.  He also studied law and practiced before and after his service in the Confederate Army.  Rion was involved in the railroads and was instrumental in procuring the Rockton-Rion spur that helped put Fairfield Blue Granite on the map. 

Mary Catherine published Ladies’ Southern Florist in 1860 and was known for her love of gardening. 

As a young lady, Hanna showed immense talents in music, painting, and literature.  She attended Presbyterian College for Women in Columbia and studied music there.  Her life took many twists and turns from that point as the reader of this biography will learn.

The Rion house is still standing in Winnsboro on the southwest corner of South Congress and Calhoun Streets. Hanna is the great aunt of Laurens McMaster Livings and the great-great aunt of Kitt R. McMaster III and Ellen McMaster Nicholson.  These three are descended from Hanna’s older sister Kitty Rion McMaster, There were nine siblings in all, and Hanna was the youngest.

About The Book

In her relatively short life, Hanna Rion achieved distinction not only as one of the most popular garden writers of her day but also as a musician, artist, and writer of popular fiction.

“Hanna’s many talents and resolute determination to live her life in her own way,” says McMaster, “made her a prime example of the ‘new woman’ of the early 20th century.”

Rion is best known for her two garden classics, The Garden in the Wilderness (1909) and Let’s Make a Flower Garden (1912), but this new biography explores the full spectrum of her writings, including verses for children, short stories, novellas, and two popular novels. She also wrote countless newspaper and journal articles in support of the Twilight Sleep movement on both sides of the Atlantic, but especially in England where she spearheaded the movement.

Beyond her writings, attention is given to Rion’s lifelong pursuit of art. Her water colors and paintings of American, English, and Bermudian landscapes and seascapes were highly successful in her own time and remain coveted items for many in the art world of today.

In this short but comprehensive biography, readers will follow Hanna Rion’s remarkable journey through life: from her native South Carolina to New York City, to the “Wilderness” on the banks of the Hudson, to Bermuda, then to England where she lived throughout the years of World War I, and finally back to Bermuda after the war.

Hanna Rion – Her Life and Writings features full-color reproductions of two of Rion’s paintings and 38 internal images to supplement the text. This book will interest general readers as well as those with more specialized interests in early 20th century art and literature. It is available for purchase online at Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble.com and similar outlets.

Kitt McMaster is a retired pathologist who currently resides in West Columbia, South Carolina. He is a graduate of Wofford College in Spartanburg and the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, and after residency training in Pathology and Laboratory Medicine in New York City and Chapel Hill, he practiced medicine for many years, first in Jacksonville, Florida, and then at Lexington Medical Center in West Columbia.

McMaster also penned a biography about Col. James Henry Rion, which was published in 2021. James Henry Rion: Son of South Carolina is available for purchase online from Amazon, Barnes and Noble and similar outlets

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