This lovely embroidered white dress was worn by Charleston author, Josephine Pinckney in the early years of the 20th century, perhaps even at the time of her graduation from Ashley Hall in 1912. Referred to as a “lingerie frock,” as Anne Rittenhouse reported in the New York Times, May 26, 1912, these airy dresses were hugely popular in warmer weather or in warmer climates such as Charleston. They were worn to horse races (Ascot, etc.) and other sporting events, for garden parties, afternoon tea and in all fashionable circles. Miss Pinckney’s dress has delightful and extensive embroidery, lace insertion and raised flowers. It came to the Charleston Museum from her estate after her death in 1957.
Born in 1895, Josephine was the daughter of Thomas Pinckney of Charleston and Camilla Scott of Virginia, both influential Southern families. She attended the College of Charleston, Radcliffe College and Columbia University. She wrote poetry for fifteen years before penning her first novel, Hilton Head in 1941. Her only book of poetry, Sea-Drinking Cities, was published in 1927. Her best-selling social comedy, Three O’Clock Dinner (1945) won her the Southern Authors Award. And Great Mischief (1948) was a Book of the Month Club selection.
But beyond her personal writings, Josephine Pinckney played a key role in the literary and cultural revival that swept through the South after World War I. She moved in the exciting and forward-thinking circle that became the Charleston Renaissance. Here, she helped found the Poetry Society in 1920, was active in the Carolina Art Association (now the Gibbes Museum of Art), the Charleston Museum, the Dock Street Theatre and the Society for the Preservation of Negro Spirituals. Because of her devotion to the historic preservation movement of the city, she was honored by the American Scenic & Historic Preservation Society.
TEXTILE TUESDAYS: Each Tuesday we post a piece from our textile collection. Some items have been on exhibit, some will eventually be shown in our Historic Textiles Gallery and some may be just too fragile to display. We hope you enjoy our selection each week – do let us know if there’s something in particular you’d like to see on TEXTILE TUESDAY! #TextileTuesday