Margaret Marion Brearley

Honored by:Mary Jo Brearley
Brick location:PAVER:21  map

Margaret Marion Brearley was born Margaret Douglas Marion on August 28, 1894 in Richburg, South Carolina, the daughter of William Francis Marion and Laura Jeannette "Nettie" Simonton Douglas. She lived with her family in Richburg until 1904 when they moved 14 miles to Chester, SC. In 1910, she went to Winthrop College, Rock Hill, SC, majoring in English and graduating in 1914.

From 1914 to 1919 she taught English in the York, SC school. In 1919, she moved to Columbia, SC and taught in the high school there while earning a Master of Arts degree from the University of South Carolina (1919-1922). On August 30, 1922 she married Harrington Cooper Brearley of St. Charles, SC, and they moved to Durham, NC, where she taught in the Durham high school and did graduate work in English at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill while her husband earned a Ph.D. in sociology.

In 1924, they moved to Clemson College in South Carolina where he was on the faculty. Their two children were born there, Harrington Cooper Brearley Jr. and Margaret Marion Brearley. The family spent the academic year 1937-1938 in London where Dr. Brearley studied at the London School of Economics, supported by a Julius Rosenwald Fellowship. In 1939, they moved to Nashville, TN, where Dr. Brearley taught sociology at Peabody College until his retirement in 1959.

During those years they designed and built a beautiful home on an acre of land. The home was a project for Margaret Brearley and even more so the land that surrounded it, which she devoted much energy and imagination to making into a beautiful place--"my wife's garden" Dr. Brearley called it. She also raised her children and was active in the Peabody Women's Club Shandygaff (a literary club), The South Carolina Club Centennial Club, the Ladies Hermitage Association, and Friends of Cheekwood (Nashville's art society). In addition, she taught English in the high school department of Ward-Belmont during World War II. She and Dr. Brearley belonged to Westminster Presbyterian Church where she taught a Bible class for adult women for many years. For more than 20 years she regularly wrote book reviews for the Nashville Tennessean.

After his retirement, she and Dr. Brearley continued to live in Nashville while Dr. Brearley commuted to a job at Middle Tennessee State College Murfreesboro in 1959-60; he died in 1960. Margaret Brearley continued to live in Nashville. She taught English composition and literature at Belmont College from 1960 until she retired in 1970. She continued to live in Nashville until 1990 when she moved to Ames, Iowa, where her son lived and where she died on December 22, 1990 at age 96. She was survived by two children, six grandchildren, and two great grandchildren.

Living a full active useful life for 96 years takes courage and endurance. But in addition, Margaret Brearley was an outstanding woman in more ways than can be described this briefly.

Though she spent her life among highly educated people, even in such a society she stood out and was known for her intellectual prowess (among her many other virtues). She wrote a great deal. Her book reviews comprise the largest body of work that were published. The family still has copies of many of her reviews. Most appeared in the Tennessean between 1957 and 1976 (when she was 82 years old), though at least one appeared in the Banner in 1951 and two were published in 1961 in the Southern Observor.

At the Tennessean she evidently was depended on as a specialist in a number of categories. One of these is the category of biographies or autobiographical works, especially of women of literary figures of Englishmen and Englishwomen and of Southerners, especially Carolinians.

Paver Inscription:

"Mary Jo (Ogle) Bradford
Margaret Marion Brearley"

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