Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Born in Marion, Ohio, Nanny Britton developed an obsession with her father's friend, Warren G. Harding. As a young girl, her bedroom walls were covered with images of Harding from local papers and magazine. She would also dawdle near his Marion Daily Star building in downtown Marion, Ohio hoping to bump into Harding on his walk home from work. All this from a young girl not yet sixteen. Her father, Dr. Britton, talked to Harding about his daughters infatuation, and in turn, Harding spoke with the girl, assuring her that one day she would find the man of her dreams. At the time, Harding was involved in a very passionate affair with Carrie Fulton Phillips, wife of James Phillips, co-owner of Marion's Uhler-Phillips Company, a local department store.
Following Harding's death, Britton wrote what is considered to be the first kiss-and-tell book The President's Daughter , published in 1927. In this book, she claimed to have been the mistress of U.S. President Warren G. Harding, and that Harding was the father of her daughter, Elizabeth Ann, born in 1919, who was later adopted by Britton's husband, Mr. Christian. One famous passage mentions their making love in a coat closet in the executive office of the White House.
According to Britton, Harding had promised to support her daughter, but that after his sudden death in 1923 Harding's family refused to acknowledge the obligation. The ostensible purpose of the book was to earn money for the support of her daughter, and to champion the rights of illegitimate children. Eventually, a lawsuit was brought; however, Britton was unable to provide any concrete evidence and buckled under the cross examination from attorney and former Marion U.S. Representive Grant Mouser , which cost her the case.
Britton's memoirs were sincere; however, her portrayal of Harding and his colloquialisms -- which she found charming -- painted a picture of a crude womanizer. In Only Yesterday, Frederick Lewis Allen remarks that, on the testimony of Britton's book, Harding's private life was "one of cheap sex episodes" and that "one sees with deadly clarity the essential ordinariness of the man, the commonness of his 'Gee dearie' and 'Say, you darling.'" The book was among those irreverently reviewed by Dorothy Parker for The New Yorker magazine as part of her famous Constant Reader column, under the title "An American DuBarry."
Britton died in California in 1991, resolute that she and the late president were the parents of Elizabeth Ann, now Elizabeth Ann Blaesing.
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