Poet Danske Dandridge (November 19, 1854-June 3, 1914) was born in Copenhagen, while her father, Henry Bedinger, was serving as ambassador to Denmark. She was christened Caroline Dane Bedinger, her father giving her the nickname Danske (‘‘Little Dane’’). She lived her life from age 19 in Shepherdstown. She lived for a brief time at the Bower, the historic Dandridge family home near Leetown, following her marriage to A. B. Dandridge in 1877. The family then moved to Poplar Grove, near Shepherdstown, which she inherited from the Bedingers and renamed Rosebrake. She was educated at Mary Baldwin College in Staunton, Virginia.
Although mostly unknown today, Dandridge’s work appeared in Harper’s and The Century, two of the most respected periodicals of her time. Her books, now out of print, include Joy and Other Poems (1888), George Michael Bedinger, a Kentucky Pioneer (1909), Historic Shepherdstown (1910), and American Prisoners of the Revolution (1911).
Dandridge’s poetry, which registers an emotional attachment to nature, family, and religion, is often self-consciously literary in its use of language and subject matter. Occasionally, it contains unmistakable homoerotic overtones. Lush descriptions, careful attention to poetic form, and original voice characterize Dandridge’s writing. Danske Dandridge committed suicide at age 59 after a long struggle with depression. The Bower and Rosebrake are Jefferson County landmarks, both listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
Written by Cheryl B. Torsney