Catherine Ann Ware Warfield was born in Natchez, Mississippi on June 6th, 1816. She was the daughter of Nathaniel Ware and Sarah Ellis, who came from very wealthy Southern families. Her father was a lawyer and political economist and her mother had a family history of depression. Her mother was committed to a mental institution not long after the birth of Catherine’s younger sister, Eleanor. The two girls were raised by their father who took it upon himself to give them the best education possible, making Catherine very well-educated for a woman of that time period. Her father moved them to Philadelphia, where their mother was institutionalized, and it is there that Catherine and Eleanor received a very good education from a variety of outlets, including an English governess. Even her father, who was very well versed in an abundance of knowledge, taught her French and exposed her to English classics.
In 1833, Catherine married Robert Elisha Warfield at the age of 17. The couple moved to Kentucky where they had six children, though there is little information about them. There is also little information about her marriage, though her relationship with her sister Eleanor was by far the strongest. The two shared a deep passion for writing and together they coauthored and published several works of poetry such as The Wife of Leon and Other Poems in 1843 and The Indian Chamber and Other Poems in 1846. Each of the poems do not have specified authors, so it is difficult to tell for sure who wrote what, but many scholars have been able to identify patterns in Warfield’s later writing that can be found throughout these early works written with her sister. Some of these patterns include the tone, themes, and emphasis on first person point of view. After Eleanor died in 1850 from yellow fever, and their father passed away four years later, Warfield took a hiatus from writing to mourn.
In 1860, Warfield broke her silence at the reported request of her niece, famous writer Sarah Anne Dorsey, and published her most popular piece, The Household of Bouverie, or The Elixir of Gold. Warfield wrote during the time of the Civil War, so she published some pro-Confederacy pieces. Her nineteenth century writing is notable for its depiction of long suffering women who would overcome their situations, which usually included domestic issues. She died in May of 1877 from unknown causes, leaving behind a legacy of southern women’s writing.
Mendiola, Kelly Willis. “Warfield, Catherine Ann Ware (1816-1877), Poet and Novelist.” American National Biography, Feb. 2000, https://www.anb.org/view/10.1093/anb/9780198606697.001.0001/anb-9780198606697-e-1601717?rskey=PJ5QxA&result=1.
“Warfield, Catherine (Ann) Ware.” American Women Writers: A Critical Reference Guide from Colonial Times to the Present. Encyclopedia.com, https://www.encyclopedia.com.