Nan Britton, played by Virginia Kull, is the mistress of Warren G. Harding and the mother of his child. She stays with Margaret Schroeder in Atlantic City, New Jersey during the 1920 presidential election campaign to avoid causing a scandal.
Biography[edit | edit source]
Background[edit | edit source]
Britton is the mistress of Warren G. Harding, a Republican politician and Senator for Ohio, and the mother of his child. Harding is positioning himself as the next Republican nominee for the US Presidency.
Season 1[edit | edit source]
She accompanies Harding to the 1920 Republican National Convention in Chicago, Illinois. She is frustrated because his wife is there and she is unable to spend time with him. She tries to get into a reception thrown by his campaign manager Harry Daugherty but is turned away by Daugherty's aide Jess Smith. Smith promises that Harding will come to her hotel room later. She is noticed by Atlantic County Treasurer Nucky Thompson during the exchange. Nucky follows her to the elevators. He calls her baby beautiful and jokes that she is a young Republican. He asks why she is attending and she hesitates before saying that she is a friend of Mr Harding. Nucky caresses the baby’s head and says that it is good to have friends in politics. Britton asks if he has children of his own and he tells her that he had a son who died. She offers her condolences in response. ("Hold Me in Paradise")
To ingratiate himself with the Harding campaign Nucky offers to take Britton on an extended trip to Atlantic City to stay with his own romantic companion Margaret Schroeder in order to avoid her being exposed to the press and causing a scandal. Nucky's assistant Eddie Kessler shows Britton out of the hotel as Nucky settles the bill. On the train back to Atlantic City Britton reads a poem that Harding has written for her. Eddie holds her daughter. Nucky comments that Harding has a way with words. The conductor opens the door to their room to announce that they are about to make a short stop. Britton goes to freshen up. Harding wins the nomination at the convention. ("Hold Me in Paradise")
Margaret Schroeder and Nan Britton stroll along the boardwalk together, looking over a beach packed with tourists. Britton asks Margaret if she believes in love at first sight. Britton says it happened to her when she first saw Warren Harding, she was 16 at the time and he was still running the newspaper in Marion, Ohio. Margaret confesses that she initially confused Harding and Hardeen when Harding was announced as a presidential candidate. Britton continues on her own track saying that she loves Harding and that he loves her but she must sacrifice because the country needs him. Margaret smiles and turns away from the beach. Britton follows her and they pass a billboard advertising Fletcher’s Mayoral candidacy. ("Belle Femme")
Margaret shows Britton into La Belle Femme and is greeted by Madame Jeunet. Margaret introduces Britton, explaining that she needs clothes for the season. Jeunet calls for her new assistant Mariska and then claps her hands when she does not respond. Mariska emerges, still chewing food, and Jeunet tells her to take Britton to the dressing room. They return to the shop days later and Britton tries on dresses. Jeunet compliments Britton as Mariska helps her to dress. Britton complains that the styles are all plain and asks for something special for the inaugural ball. Margaret urges practicality, reminding her that she needs something for everyday wear first. Britton handles a dress, saying that she loves it and Jeunet compliments her taste. Britton wonders at the cost and Jeunet says that it is $480. Britton suggests trying an alternative again. Margaret and Jeunet give her privacy. Britton emerges from the dressing room in the $480 dress. Margaret pointedly says that it is beautiful and Jeunet gives it to Margaret in exchange for her help getting reduced protection payments from Nucky. ("Belle Femme")
Relationships[edit | edit source]
- Elizabeth Ann Britton: Daughter
- Warren Harding: Lover
- Florence Harding: Romantic rival
- Margaret Schroeder: Friend
Memorable Quotes[edit | edit source]
- "He loves me. And he loves his baby daughter. But America needs him, and so I must sacrifice."
Appearances[edit | edit source]
|Season one appearances|
|Boardwalk Empire||The Ivory Tower||Broadway Limited||Anastasia|
|Nights in Ballygran||Family Limitation||Home||Hold Me in Paradise|
|Belle Femme||The Emerald City||Paris Green||A Return to Normalcy|
Artistic License[edit | edit source]
Nan Britton was a real person who had a deep crush on Warren G. Harding since she was a teenager and considered Harding the man of her life to her death in 1991, aged 96. Historians, however, tended to dismiss Harding as the father of Britton's daughter Elizabeth Ann (1919-2005), assuming he was sterile, nor that their affair, if it ever existed, continued once he assumed office, as Britton claimed in her 1927 book The President's Daughter. However, in 2015 DNA tests confirmed that Harding really did father her daughter. The Season 1 storyline involving Britton and her daughter being sent to Atlantic City in order to not compromise Harding's election campaign is likely inspired by an incident involving a long time mistress of Warren G. Harding, Carrie Fulton Phillips. Phillips was a married woman and a friend of Harding's wife Florence, who successfully blackmailed the Republican Party in the summer of 1920 by threatening to publish the love letters that Harding had written to her, some of them on official Senate stationery. To make matters even worse, Phillips had been a vocal and very active supporter of Germany during World War I. Phillips' silence was finally bought with a long, all-expenses-covered tour of East Asia and the Pacific islands, which also served to keep her away for the duration of Harding's presidential campaign.