"No Santa Claus? Thank God! he lives and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, nay, ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood."
Virginia O'Hanlon photo courtesy inthepastlane.com.
Virginia O'Hanlon was born on July 20, 1889 in New York City. At eight years old, she asked her father one day if there really was a Santa Claus. He replied that she should write a letter to the New York Sun. "If you see it in the Sun, it is so," he explained. On September 21, 1897, Virginia did just that. She received a response written by editor Francis Church who had been a war correspondent during the American Civil War. His answer reassured Virginia that despite the fact that they lived in an age of skepticism, there was indeed a Santa Claus. The letter became the most reprinted editorial in any English newspaper.
Letter courtesy upload,wikimedia.org.
Virginia grew up and attended Hunter College from which she received a B.A. in 1910 as well as Columbia College from whcih she received an M.A. in 1912. She became a teacher the same year and later a junior principal. Miss O'Hanlon retired in 1959.
Virginia married in the 1910's, but her husband deserted her just before the birth of their daughter Laura. In 1969, a photograph was snapped of the adult Virginia finally meeting Santa Claus. Two years later she passed away in a New York nursing home.
Note: For more information, read the picture book Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus by Francis Church.
Editor Francis Church courtesy upload.wikimedia.org.