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Mary Roberts Rinehart: A brief biography

Mary Roberts Rinehart was born in Old Allegheny in 1876. While in nursing school, she met and married Dr. Stanley Rinehart, a young intern just beginning his practice. In her autobiography, My Story, Mrs. Rinehart writes of those difficult early years, with her husband working and her raising three boys. She often suppressed the urge to write but was "forced to write" as a financial panic had collapsed the stockmarket and left the Rinehart's in debt. She submitted her first short story to Munsey's Magazine and in return received $34 and a request for more stories. In her career, she authored nearly sixty novels and mysteries, scores of short stories and poems, travel literature, war reporting and a dozen plays.

In the fall of 1911, with five successful books and two plays to her credit, she purchased a house in Glen Osborne, on the corner of Orchard and Linden Streets called "Cassella." Before they moved into the house, however, Mrs. Rinehart had to completely rebuild the house as it had fallen into disrepair. "The venture was mine, and I had put every dollar I possessed into the purchase. All week long I wrote wildly to meet the payroll and contractor costs." she wrote in her autobiography.

She would be a remarkable woman in today's society but her life is even more remarkable given the time period in which she lived. Her political views were well known--support of child labor laws and equal rights for women. On equal rights she was outspoken, having actively participated in the women's suffrage movement. During WWI, the Saturday Evening Post sent Mrs. Rinehart to Belgium as a war correspondent where she visited and wrote of the battlefields and trenches.

The Rinehart family moved from Glen Osborne in 1922 so that Dr. Rinehart could work for the Veterans' Administration in Washington, DC. The Marks family bought her home in 1925. It was torn down in 1969 to make way for new homes on Hare Lane, Linden and Orchard Streets. When Mrs. Rinehart died in 1958, her sons gave her literary effects to the University of Pittsburgh. The Sewickley Valley Historical Society has her complete works as well as many articles about her life. Mrs. Rinehart's autobiography, My Story, is available through the Sewickley Public Library.

Information for the above text was obtained in part from an article by Joseph F. Smith "Mary Roberts Rinehart: At Home in Glen Osborne" that appeared in the Sewickley Herald in January 1976.

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Excerpted from "My Story" by Mary Roberts Rinehart

"I wanted that home (in Osborne) fiercely. It spelled peace and security. There was behind that desire, I think, all the insecurity of my childhood. I wanted safety and permanence, a sanctuary for me and mine.

So I went shopping for a home, and at last I found it, in the Sewickley Valley 12 miles from Pittsburgh and on a bluff overlooking the Ohio River.

It was a vast ruin, old "Cassella", built some 50-odd years before by one of the early officers of the Pennsylvania Railroad.

When we moved into the Sewickley house, I had published five successful books and produced two plays, one of them a real theatrical hit, and I was practically bankrupt.

Nevertheless, now at last we began to live. We made friends; their houses were all about us. All the day the doors stood unlocked, so that they might come in when they would. And the valley was lovely. On the hills above, where I had ridden with Uncle John so long ago over empty fields, now stood great estates, and the country club with its golf course. Below were the villages which followed the river, Glen Osborne, Sewickley, Edgeworth. They were residential suburbs of Pittsburgh, but they lived a self-contained life of their own, and to this day I look back on the years there as the happiest I have ever known."

Mementos of Mary Roberts Rinehart

Mrs. Letha Craig worked at the Mary Roberts Rinehart residence in Sewickley during the years 1914-1915. Mrs. Craig was a companion and aide to Mrs. Rinehart's elderly mother. Below is personal correspondence between Mrs. Craig and Mrs. Rinehart. We thank Dorothy Horst for sharing her mother's mementos with us.

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