Cornelia is the oldest of four girls: Agnes, Agatha, and Alice. She is described as a pretty and dark haired woman who likes laughing. (The illustrations done by Dan Andreasen gave her auburn hair.) She is very active for a lady, and enjoys activities such as riding in automobiles and sledding, activities that Samantha does not think a lady would participate in. She is a good cook and even if she doesn't understand a process, works to be taught or guided. She does not shy away from the social needs of people. Cornelia is a very firm-minded lady, very socially forward, works for woman's suffrage as well as multiple other social changes, and believes that "newfangled" ideas and inventions are a step in the right direction for society. She initially frequently debates with Grandmary on the role of women and technology in the changing society for most of the series; this thus influences Samantha towards her own social change as well as Grandmary.
Gardner is courting Cornelia from the beginning of the series; however, Samantha only refers to Cornelia as a "friend" to Gardner initially as she does not know the whole story of their courtship. She suspects there is more, as she does ask if they will marry. Samantha is initially slightly lukewarm to Cornelia, but fascinated by her personality; she dislikes her (or, more accurately, how she is the center of a change in holiday activities for her and Samantha feels everyone is ruining the holidays in order to please Cornelia) for a while in Samantha's Surprise. She quickly then warms back up to her, hence her delight when Gard proposes to Cornelia on Christmas Day, and is one of her bridesmaids when are married in the spring. She and Gardner then move together into a brownstone across the street from Gramercy Park.
Cornelia is very protective of her family and does not put qualifiers on their connections; in The Curse of Ravenscourt she firmly says that Nellie, Jenny, and Bridget are her daughters without any qualifiers on their being adopted.
In The Books
Meet Samantha: An American Girl
Cornelia is first mentioned without being seen by Samantha; Samantha thinks that Cornelia is pretty but not right for her Uncle Gard and that someone more famous would be better. She asks Jessie if Gard will marry Cornelia and Jessie tells Sam that it is none of her business and that children shouldn't ask such questions.
Later, as Samantha is working on her sampler, she hears sounds of a car coming down the street that is disturbing horses and people. Cornelia and Uncle Gard arrive in the car, smiling at each other and dusting off their clothes from the ride over. When Gard offers to take Samantha for a ride and Grandmary refuses, citing that Samantha's clothes will be ruined, Cornelia offers her duster coat to Samantha and helps her into it to it to Samantha's gratitude. She stays back to have tea with Grandmary.
The afternoon after Nellie is sent away by the Rylands, Gardner and her are over for tea. Samantha ignores them both as she is angry at grown ups (though not them specifically). When Samantha says she knows what happened to Jessie and later says Grandmary was wrong not to tell her, Grandmary looks at Gardner and Cornelia. They are both silent, and Grandmary then confesses she was wrong not to inform Samantha.
Samantha's Surprise: A Christmas Story
The announcement that Cornelia is coming for the holidays at first excites Samantha, but when the holidays become more fussy and Samantha is ignored and discouraged from participation in decoration and activities, Samantha blames her for the change in focus, and decides that she won't get her anything.
Cornelia goes sledding with Gardner and Samantha and encourages Grandmary to let Samantha go, as a form of healthy activity. Cornelia falls off the sled, but is undeterred and continues to sled with them. While out shopping, Cornelia mentions she made gingerbread houses as a child. She offers to help Samantha create and decorate a gingerbread house on Christmas Eve morning.
Cornelia's Christmas gift to Samantha is the Nutcracker doll Samantha had seen at the toy store; Samantha gives her the decoupage box she has worked hard on (that was originally for Gardner). Gardner formally proposes to her as well on Christmas morning.
Happy Birthday, Samantha!: A Springtime Story
Cornelia--now married to Gardner--attends Samantha's Birthday party, arriving in the automobile, and introduces Samantha to Jip before stepping inside. When the girls realize that the ice cream has been salted, she is bumped into by Agatha and then asks what the problem is; after tasting the ice cream she assures the girls they can't eat it and to put the bowls aside.
When Samantha comes to visit in New York City, Cornelia greets her and Grandmary. When Grandmary complains about the suffragists in Madison Square Park, Cornelia is visibly upset by her dismissing it as nonsense. She allows the twins and Samantha to take Jip to Grammercy Park, but warns them they should keep him on the leash and that they will meet at the brownstone to go to the ice cream parlor after her meeting.
During the chase after Jip, Agnes lets them know that Cornelia is at the suffragist meeting and will spot them, getting them in trouble. They attempt to catch Jip, but he hears Cornelia speaking and runs to the speaker's podium. She makes her speech about women's voting holding Jip, and then sits down with him in her lap. Only after the meeting is over does she confront the girls and lecture them on their misbehavior. There is no time to change clothes, so they go to Tyson's Ice Cream Parlor messy as they are. When Samantha starts to explain why they were late and messy, she stops short of saying that Cornelia was on the podium; Cornelia says it for herself, and is surprised that Grandmary was there as well and heard her and others speak, changing her mind on the right for women to vote.
Samantha Saves The Day: A Summer Story
Changes for Samantha: A Winter Story
Gardner and Cornelia return from their first visit since their honeymoon. She greets Grandmary warmly and points out that Samantha has a new pinafore, saying it makes her look taller. She and Gard have brought Samantha a new gift of a blue bicycle, the latest model from England. There are also bikes for her and Gardner, which they will leave as they can come up and all ride together. Cornelia mentions that she was the one to suggest the present and when she was younger she loved cycling as it is so fast and free. When Grandmary protests and goes on about the unladylikeness of wearing bloomers, Cornelia says that a lady is a lady no matter what she wears and assures that Samantha will not be improper on her bike. She cheers Samantha on when she takes off for the first time, and claps after her first ride alone and says she knew Samantha would get the hang of it right away.
At the park, Gardner and Cornelia send Samantha ahead of them. When Samantha crashes her bike over the bank, she and Gardner run down the bank to help her and ask her if she is okay. Cornelia gets a stubborn look when Grandmary calls Samantha a poor child and demands they go home; she asks Samantha directly if she wants to go home now. She thinks it a shame that the front wheel is flat and there cannot be any more riding.
She comes up with Gardner and her sisters to go cycling with Samantha. She is shocked to see Samantha in bloomers and says that Grandmary astonishes her, laughing when Grandmary quotes that a lady is a lady no matter what she wears. She leaves on the cycle ride with the others.
Cornelia and Gardner have taken in the O'Malley sisters and Cornelia is first seen in the parlor teaching Samantha to play chess. When Nellie starts to call Jenny and Bridget to go to bed, Cornelia reminds her that Gertrude can do it, embarrassing Nellie a little. She tugs the bellpull to call Gertrude who comes to take the girls to bed.
At Samantha's suggestion that they go to a settlement house Cornelia is quite eager to go, as she thinks the work there to educate women is important and would like to help. She decides to take them the next day after school. They walk out and make their way to Seventeenth Street. Nellie navigates them through the packed street and is worried they may be overwhelmed, but Cornelia's eyes are alight with interest. Nellie startles when she thinks she sees Uncle Mike and Cornelia asks her what's wrong. Nellie ends up taking them down a wrong turn. When she stands up to one of the men in the alley, Cornelia gasps at her language. Samantha has to pull her past. When they make it to the settlement house, Cornelia remarks that something smells delicious and is told it's the cooking classes. Miss Brennan greets them well and is pleased to hear that Cornelia wants to help. Cornelia is unsure where to help and is told about the house by Miss Brennan before being led by Nellie to the kindergarten room where Samantha stays to tell the children a story. She and Nellie go to the cooking classes where she begins to help wash the dishes. She has to constantly dry her hands to taste the food that the ladies keep bringing her. Nellie tells her how to say "the bread is good" in both Italian and German as the women in class speak those languages. When they leave Cornelia thanks Nellie for taking them and leans back to rest on the ride home. She tells Gardner about the trip and the ruffian they encountered, and how much she enjoyed it there. She intends to go back at least once a week. When she tries to get Samantha to talk about the trip, Samantha is very quiet. Cornelia declines the ride in the motorcar the following Saturday but suggests all the girls go.
Nellie and Cornelia begin to go to the settlement house twice a week after school, which causes her to spend more time with Nellie. She calls Nellie down to the cab they take each time. She quickly goes to the cooking class while Nellie and Miss Brennan speak, saying she will have to get along for a while without Nellie's translating. After Nellie writes the Clark school and she and Gardner receive the reply, she asks him about the letter that he's received and is worried it is bad news. Hearing that it's from the Clark School, she is shocked and hurt and asks Nellie if she is happy there and if she wants to go to school in Boston. She is the one to suggest that Nellie go up and talk to Samantha, who overhears that Nellie wants to leave and bolts upstairs. She and Gardner do not come up to tuck the girls in and Nellie believes they are talking.
The next morning Cornelia and Gardner have brought Uncle Mike to the house. Cornelia explains that they had been looking for Uncle Mike since taking in the girls, to speak to him about adopting the girls. She hugs Nellie when she confesses that she didn't want to worry the Edwards, and explains that he has been brought to sign away his rights. After Mike does so and leaves, she and Gardner both collapse into chairs. Nellie is still solemn, Gardner pulls her into his lap and Cornelia asks what's on her mind, which gets her to confess that she also wants to go to a different school. Cornelia understands and, with Miss Brennan's help, gets Nellie enrolled in a school she finds more practical.
Cornelia orders books from Mr. Bertram for Samantha and Nellie to read on the boat ride. She and Gardner look after Bridget and Jenny while Samantha and Nellie accompany Grandmary and Admiral Beemis on the voyage to Europe.
She and Gardner cannot go to Piney Point as they are caring for their infant son, William. They give a picture of the family to Grandmary as a present.
In The Film
Cornelia is first seen after Samantha meets with Uncle Gard in the automobile. Samantha has only met her once before, at Christmas last year. Gardner introduces her to Samantha as Miss Pitt, but Cornelia requests she be called by her first name. Samantha greets her passively; when Cornelia says that she heard that Sam likes to read. Samantha requests she be called by her full name. Cornelia corrects herself and gives Samantha a copy of The Wizard of Oz, saying that girls in New York City love the book. Samantha reluctantly accepts the gift.
When the three arrive in the parlor Gardner introduces Cornelia and Grandmary tensely greets her, saying it's a pleasant surprise to see her. Cornelia returns the greeting and says that she was told that Gardner would say she was coming, but she can see he did not. Grandmary says they will have time to catch up later and Mrs. Hawkins will show Cornelia to the guest room. Cornelia thanks her and leaves.
During dinner, Gardner announces that he and Cornelia will wed; Cornelia says that she and him have been planning this for a year. She asks Samantha to be a bridesmaid, which she accepts reluctantly. Before the wedding, she has Samantha and Nellie try two cakes to choose the one for her wedding. The day of the wedding, her young niece Agatha picks up her veil and plays with it, accidentally setting it on fire; Cornelia is the one to put out the flames. She is flattered when Samantha lends her her mother's veil.
After Samantha moves in with Gard and Cornelia, she starts to slowly warm up to Cornelia. Cornelia is involved in suffrage and with some of the well-to-do of society. She uses her connection to Mrs. Vandergeld, a wealthy philanthropist, to get her and Samantha into Cold Rock Orphanage to visit Nellie and her sisters. She is also the one who informs Mrs. Vandergeld of the inhumane treatment of the girls in the orphanage, for which Mrs. Frouchy is removed from her position as matron, and Cornelia helps Samantha organize a Christmas feast for the orphans at the end of the movie. When Samantha changes her speech, she stands up for her when the teacher disqualifies her.
She is played by Rebecca Mader.
- ↑ Samantha: An American Girl Holiday: The Complete Telescript of Samantha's Movie, pg. 67:
- Minister: "Dearly beloved, we are gathered together in the sight of God and the presence of these witnesses to unite Cornelia Stanton Pitt and Gardner Elliot Edwards in holy matrimony, a state first ordained by God in the Garden of Eden."
- ↑ The invitation in Samantha's Bridesmaid Accessories.
- ↑ The three girls are adopted as of Changes for Samantha.
- ↑ As of Changes for Samantha she is also her guardian.