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Helen Hay Whitney

Helen Hay Whitney
Helen Hay Whitney photographed by Frances Benjamin Johnston
Born 1876
United States
Died September 24, 1944
New York City, New York, United States
Residence New York City & Manhasset
Occupation Poet, author, racehorse owner/breeder, philanthropist
Political party Republican Party
Religion Episcopalian
Spouse(s) Payne Whitney
Children Joan (1903-1975)
John Hay (1904-1982)
Parents John Milton Hay &
Clara Louise Stone

Helen Julia Hay Whitney (1876 - September 24, 1944) was an American poet, writer, racehorse owner/breeder, socialite, and philanthropist. A member by marriage of the prominent Whitney family of New York, she was the daughter of Clara Louise Stone and her husband, John Milton Hay who served as the United States Ambassador to Great Britain and United States Secretary of State.

Helen Hay was a poet and an author of books for children. A number of her poems were published in Harper's Magazine. [1] A poem of hers, 'Love of the Rose' was used in Leon Ardin's opera, Antony and Cleopatra (Act 2, no. 15). [2] Several of her works have been republished in the 21st century.

In 1902 she married Payne Whitney with whom she had a daughter, Joan, and a son, John. The couple built a home at 972 Fifth Avenue in New York City designed by Stanford White. Helen Hay Whitney lived there until her death in 1944. The government of France acquired the property in 1952 and is part of the French Embassy in the United States. The Whitneys also owned a 438 acre estate in Manhasset, New York they called Greentree and she and her formed Greentree Stable that, under her management became a major force in Thoroughbred flat and steeplechase horse racing. [3] Her horses won the American Grand National steeplechase in 1926, 1927, 1928, and 1937. In flat racing, her horses won the Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes in 1931 and 1942


The beneficiary of a large fortune on the death of her husband, Helen Whitney provided substantial funding to various causes and institutions including the Payne Whitney Gymnasium at Yale University. [4] In 1943, an ailing Helen Whitney and her daughter Joan created the Helen Hay Whitney Foundation which supports early postdoctoral research training in all basic biomedical sciences. [5]. Helen Whitney died in 1944 and as part of her bequests left the Metropolitan Museum of Art twenty-four objects consisting of paintings, ceramics, textiles, and furniture. [6]



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