O'Connor, Elizabeth Paschal (ca. 1850–1931)

By: Fannie E. Ratchford

Type: Biography

Published: 1952

Updated: May 1, 1995

Elizabeth O'Connor, writer, was born in the early 1850s in or near Austin, one of two daughters of attorney George Washington Paschal and his second wife, Marcia (Duval). Elizabeth grew up in comfort, cared for primarily by a slave woman whose two sons Paschal had sold to a buyer in Bastrop. Although she left Texas as a young woman, she always identified herself as a Texan and as a southerner. After Elizabeth's mother died her father sent her to boarding school at Georgetown Convent, near Washington, D.C., and later to a school in White Plains, New York. She attended school in Texas shortly before her father's third marriage and, with her father and stepmother, returned to Washington to make her social debut. She was married briefly and had one son, Francis Howard. Through assistance from President Ulysses S. Grant, Elizabeth Paschal Howard secured a job at the War Office, where she met and became friendly with Walt Whitman. By the early 1880s she had moved to New York City, where, to support herself and her son, she worked as a manuscript reader for Harper Brothers and corresponded with Joel Chandler Harris and Henry Ward Beecher, among others. She became seriously ill and was dependant for a short time on morphine and opium. Her health was delicate for the rest of her life.

About 1888 Mrs. Howard went to Ireland, where she met and married the politician and writer T. P. O'Connor. They lived in London, where they published a newspaper, the Star, and socialized with political and literary circles. Among their acquaintances and friends were George Bernard Shaw, Oscar Wilde, Bret Harte, Arthur Conan Doyle, Henry James, and Ellen Terry. Searching for an independent source of income, Elizabeth O'Connor wrote and starred in a play, The Lady from Texas (1901), but it failed. She also wrote another play, The Last Leader, but there is no indication that it was ever produced. Her books included the autobiographical I Myself (1910), Little Thank You (1912), My Beloved South (1913), Dog Stars (1915), Herself Ireland (1917), and The Hat of Destiny (1923). She died in London on September 1, 1931, and was buried in Surrey.

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London Times, September 3, 5, 1931.
  • Writers, Authors, Publications, and Literature
  • Literature
  • Dramatists and Novelists
  • Fiction
  • Women
  • Authors and Writers

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Fannie E. Ratchford, “O'Connor, Elizabeth Paschal,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed August 11, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/oconnor-elizabeth-paschal.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

May 1, 1995

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