Separately they were formidable-together they were
unstoppable. Despite their intriguing lives and the deep impact
they had on their community and region, the story of Richard Joshua
Reynolds (1850-1918) and Katharine Smith Reynolds (1880-1924) has
never been fully told. Now Michele Gillespie provides a sweeping
account of how R. J. and Katharine succeeded in realizing their
From relatively modest beginnings, R. J. launched the R. J.
Reynolds Tobacco Company, which would eventually develop two hugely
profitable products, Prince Albert pipe tobacco and Camel
cigarettes. His marriage in 1905 to Katharine Smith, a dynamic
woman thirty years his junior, marked the beginning of a unique
partnership that went well beyond the family. As a couple, the
Reynoldses conducted a far-ranging social life and, under
Katharine's direction, built Reynolda House, a breathtaking estate
and model farm. Providing leadership to a series of progressive
reform movements and business innovations, they helped drive one of
the South's best examples of rapid urbanization and changing race
relations in the city of Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Together
they became one of the New South's most influential elite couples.
Upon R. J.'s death, Katharine reinvented herself, marrying a World
War I veteran many years her junior and engaging in a significant
new set of philanthropic pursuits.
Katharine and R. J. Reynolds reveals the broad economic,
social, cultural, and political changes that were the backdrop to
the Reynoldses' lives. Portraying a New South shaped by tensions
between rural poverty and industrial transformation, white
working-class inferiority and deeply entrenched racism, and the
solidification of a one-party political system, Gillespie offers a
masterful life-and-times biography of these important North
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