Butt was born on November 22, 1833, in Norfolk, the daughter of Francis Butt and Mary Ann Morriss Butt, a milliner. Between about 1847 and 1850 she attended Patapsco Female Institute in Ellicott's Mills, Howard County, Maryland. In April 1850 Butt's essay on the "Influence of Music" appeared in the Patapsco Young Ladies' Magazine.
In 1860 Butt published her second book, a collection of short works entitled The Leisure Moments of Miss Martha Haines Butt, A.M. Through moral tales, poems, and personal musings she championed such values as Christian benevolence, companionate marriage, and thrift. Butt also pointedly criticized society's preoccupation with fashion, gossip, status, and wealth, but she steered clear of the subject of slavery. In Leisure Moments her identity as a Virginian was clearly evident in her meditation on Norfolk's yellow fever epidemic of 1855 and in her paeans to the works of Virginia sculptors William Randolph Barbee and Alexander Galt. By the time this work was published Butt had moved to New York and gained a national reputation not only as an engaging writer of prescriptive verse and prose but also as a beautiful, graceful woman who always dressed with great style.
On July 6, 1865, at Christ Church in Norfolk Butt married Nathan Ives Bennett, of Bridgeport, Connecticut, who was then working as a clerk in the quartermaster department in Norfolk. They lived later in Hartford, Connecticut, and in New York City. Shortly after her marriage she published her final book, Pastimes with My Little Friends (1866), a collection of stories for children.
Developing pneumonia not long thereafter, Martha Haines Butt Bennett died on February 9, 1871, at the Grand Central Hotel in New York City. She was buried in Norfolk.
- Antifanaticism: A Tale of the South (1853)
- The Leisure Moments of Miss Martha Haines Butt, A.M. (1860)
- Pastimes with My Little Friends (1866)
November 22, 1833 - Martha Haines Butt is born in Norfolk.
1847 - On or about this year, Martha Haines Butt enters Patapsco Female Institute in Ellicott's Mills, Howard County, Maryland. She will receive an AM degree in 1850.
April 1850 - Martha Haines Butt's essay on the "Influence of Music" appears in the Patapsco Young Ladies' Magazine.
1853 - Martha Haines Butt's novel Antifanaticism: A Tale of the South is published as a defense of slavery against the accusations contained in Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin (1852).
1855 - Martha Haines Butt becomes a contributing editor of two short-lived periodicals published by women, the Kaleidoscope, a weekly established by Rebecca Brodnax Hicks in Petersburg, and the Ladies' Repository, a monthly published in Richmond by a woman known only by the pseudonym Lillie Linden.
July 6, 1865 - Martha Haines Butt marries Nathan Ives Bennett at Christ Church in Norfolk. Bennett is a Connecticut native working as a clerk in the quartermaster department in Norfolk.
May 1870 - Despite having previously criticized women's rights activists, Martha Haines Butt becomes vice president of the newly established Virginia State Woman Suffrage Association.
February 9, 1871 - Martha Haines Butt dies of pneumonia at the Grand Central hotel in New York City. She is buried in Norfolk.
Cite This Entry
- APA Citation:
van Zelm, A. G., & the Dictionary of Virginia Biography. Martha Haines Butt (1833–1871). (2013, September 23). In Encyclopedia Virginia. Retrieved from http://www.EncyclopediaVirginia.org/Butt_Martha_Haines_1833-1871.
- MLA Citation:
van Zelm, Antoinette G. and the Dictionary of Virginia Biography. "Martha Haines Butt (1833–1871)." Encyclopedia Virginia. Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, 23 Sep. 2013. Web. READ_DATE.
First published: June 8, 2009 | Last modified: September 23, 2013