An American lawyer and postbellum writer, he is known for his nostalgic, Old South-themed works. His novels include Two Little Confederates, In Ole Virginia, Red Rock, and The Old South.
He taught children in order to finance his college education at Washington and Lee University. He later received his law degree from the University of Virginia.
He served as the U.S. Ambassador to Italy during the administration of President Woodrow Wilson.
Born on his family's plantation in Hanover County, Virginia, he traced his roots back to the first English settlement at Jamestown. In 1886, he married Anne Seddon Bruce.
He studied at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia during the time when Robert E. Lee was serving as president of the university.