Barbara Holland (1933-2010) was the only child of author Marion Holland's first marriage, to Evaristo de Montalvo Murray.
A typewriter for Christmas
Marion and her second husband, Thomas Holland, had four children: Nicholas Holland; Judith Clarke; Rebecca Snyder; and Andrew Holland. The family lived in Washington, D.C.
While in high school, Barbara won the National Scholastic poetry competition two years running. She was the first student in the award's history to win it as a junior and, the following year, the first to win it twice. After graduation, she briefly attended American University, but dropped out and moved around the country, eventually settling in Philadelphia, Pa.
Barbara worked as an advertising copywriter in the 1950s and '60s. She enjoyed it; her ads for Villager presaged the style J. Peterman uses today. In her book, "In Private Life," (The Akadine Press, 1997), she wrote, "I had a marvelous time.... I had what is known as a creative job, in what we referred to, giggling, as the Glamorous and Exciting World of Advertising, and a scrungy lot we were, too.... The boss caused a partition to be built between us and the front offices where all was hush and carpeting and the muffled buzz of phones, and he kept the door shut."
For fifty years, Barbara's short fiction, essays and articles appeared in a wide range of publications, including Smithsonian, McCalls, Redbook, Good Housekeeping, Ladies' Home Journal, Playboy, Cosmopolitan, Prevention, World History, Woman's Day, Ms., Writer's Digest, Arts & Entertainment, Discovery, Family Circle, Working Mother, Seventeen, The Washington Post, Washington Times, Miami Herald, and Washingtonian and Philadelphia magazines. She was a contributing editor and columnist for Mid-Atlantic Country, and a regular columnist for Country Journal.
When Marion died in 1989, she left her cabin in the woods overlooking Bluemont, Va., to Barbara; a few years later, Barbara moved there. She lived alone in Bluemont for the rest of her life, writing. She loved the area and immortalized Loudoun County, Va., in her collection of essays, "Bingo Night at the Fire Hall: The case for cows, orchards, bake sales & fairs" (Harcourt Brace & Company, 1997).
Barbara's fifteen books cover various genres--history, humor, essays, biography, memoirs and juveniles. Recent titles include "Hail to the Chiefs: Presidential Mischief, Morals & Malarkey from George W. to George W."; "Endangered Pleasures: In Defense of Naps, Bacon, Martinis, Profanity, and Other Indulgences"; "They Went Whistling - Women Wayfarers, Warriors, Runaways, and Renegades"; and "The Joy of Drinking." HarperCollins released a new edition of Barbara's best-selling book, "Secrets of the Cat: Its Lore, Legend and Lives," in 2010.
Barbara was married and divorced several times. At the end of her life, she suffered from Lyme Disease and cancer. She died at home, with her two cats at her side. During her last months under the care of hospice and family, she enjoyed sparring with the proofreaders on the new edition of "Secrets of the Cat"; working on a collection of her short stories; and smoking, drinking, and eating peach ice cream.