Anya Seton – Best-Selling Author of Historical Fiction

Anya Seton (nee Ann) was born in New York City in the Setons' Bryant Park studio apartment on West 40th Street in 1904. She was raised in Cos Cob and Greenwich, Connecticut. Her parents traveled extensively, often leaving Ann in the care of governesses. She attended Manhattan’s Spence School and Greenwich’s Edgewood High School intermittently between trips with her parents. She received her high school diploma from Spence in 1921.

On a family trip in 1916 to Montana, that included a visit to the Blackfoot Nation, Anya was given the Blackfoot name Ne-ché-poi-é (Indian Talker).  Trips with either one or the other parent served as educational opportunities, broaden Anya’s view of the world. She went to Europe and Asia with her mother and traveled through the West in the US with her father. Researching her own books, she traveled extensively as well to China, England, etc.  

Anya, having “celebrity” parents wanted a different life for herself, but was drawn to being a writer because that’s what she knew. She turned away from her parents’ pursuits such as Woodcraft and Women’s Suffrage. As a young adult coming from a wealthy and famous family in the “Roaring Twenties”, she loved exclusive parties and met the most popular writers, artists, businessmen, and politicians of the time.  Ultimately, she became more famous than either of her parents as a best-selling author, writing historical fiction based on carefully researched historical events. Several of her books are still popular today and two were made into motion pictures. Between 1941 and 1975, she completed twelve historical fictions and a biography of Washington Irving for children.

She married Hamilton Cottier in 1923. They moved to Oxford, England anticipating Hamilton’s enrollment at Oxford; however, the couple returned to the US in 1925 where he was able to get a part-time teaching position at Princeton. Their first child, Pamela, was born in New York in 1925. Their second child, Seton, arrived in 1928. They divorced in 1930. Two weeks later, Hamilton (Chan) Chase and Anya were married. The Chase’s had one child, Clemency, in 1934. The Chases divorced in 1968.

Anya and Chan spent the early years of their marriage mostly at Little Peequo with her mother.  Anya would write in seclusion and dote on her three children, while Chan went to his office in New York. They later built their own home, Sea Rune, in Old Greenwich, which remained Anya's residence for the rest of her life. Anya Seton died at age 86 in 1990 at Sea Rune.

Following is a list of Anya’s books.

My Theodosia

1941

Dragonwyck

1944

The Turquoise

Feature 3

The Hearth and the Eagle

Feature 4

Foxfire

1951

Katherine

1954

The Mistletoe & Sword

1955

The Winthrop Woman

1958

Washington Irving

1960

Devil Water

1962

Avalon

1965

Green Darkness

1973

Smouldering Fires

1975