Ella Costillo Bennett papers, Special Collections Department, University Libraries, University of Memphis
Tin type photograph of Ella Costillo Bennett, taken by Arnold Geuthe in San Francisco, California, 1905.
Journalist-author Ella Costillo Bennett was born in Memphis in 1865 to Irish-born parents, Michael Charles and Ellen Doyle Bennett. In the summer of 1874, her father's income dramatically declined, changing the family's lifestyle greatly. Ella attended the Memphis public schools, where she excelled academically. She left Memphis for a time to travel via train with her mother, sister Mary L., and future brother-in-law George Nichols to Louisville, Kentucky and on north to Chicago, which was just recovering from its disastrous 1871 fire. They did not live in Chicago long, but returned to Memphis, where the family survived the Yellow Fever epidemics of the late 1870s. After her sister's marriage to George Nichols, Ella and her mother moved to Denver, Colorado where their lives were totally different from the recent years in Memphis. Ella attended the Arapahoe School, where she wrote her first poem, which received praise for its promise from Denver poet and feature writer, Eugene Fields.
After her mother's death in 1883, Ella married George Sexton Bennett of Lexington, Kentucky, with whom she had three children. The younger son was named Raphael and the daughter Mary L. Bennett. Following the birth of their third child, economic necessity forced Ella to write for the newspaper, the Portland Oregonian, beginning in 1892. In 1898-99 while living in Chicago, she wrote for Events and the Interocean. From 1902 to 1904 she wrote for the Denver Post and did free-lance and dramatic criticism for a number of California newspapers, including the Sam Francisco Wasp, the Overland Monthly and. the San Francisco Bulletin. Some years after the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, Ella and George Bennett were divorced. Thereafter, Ella supported herself and her children through her writings. She wrote a book Abelard and Heloise (in addition to her newspaper copy.) The last years of her life were spent in Los Angeles, where she died in 1932.
"Ella Costillo Bennett, by Arnold Geuthe, San Francisco, California, 1905" (2023). Images. 5.
Bennett, Ella Costillo; Photographs.