Mary Edwards is Samantha Parkington's grandmother. Samantha refers to her as "Grandmary."
Grandmary is a very traditional woman, having spent most of her childhood and later adult life in the proper Victorian era. She does not think well of many modern changes at the start of the series--she is chagrined at Gardener's automobile, does not agree with Cornelia's newfangled ideas, and believes Samantha should always be a proper young lady. She cares for Samantha lovingly, but is very stern when talking about Samantha's growing up. She believes that discipline is what makes girls into refined ladies, and does not initially approve of modern technology and attitudes. She is a touch overprotective of Samantha, most likely due to her being an orphan and her (at the start of the series) only grandchild, and sometimes appears to baby or indulge her.
She is very loving and kind towards Samantha, but can be stern when Samantha is unladylike. Samantha is very worried about making her proud and not upsetting her; Grandmary can stop Samantha's outbursts with only a word or a look, and when she does not answer Samantha's questions, Samantha does not push the issue. (Samantha once asked Grandmary where babies come from and told it was an improper topic for young girls.) She is very kind to Samantha and even slightly indulges her, buying her an expensive doll after it has been earned by keeping to her tasks of practice and discipline and not being upset when she gives it away to Nellie once she hears why. Grandmary has graceful penmanship.
She was once married and later widowed; her first husband, William, is a topic in The Cry of the Loon. Samantha finds the story of their courtship romantic; they met in 1865 a month before William went to England for a year, and wrote letters every week for the full year. They were engaged upon his return in 1865, and married two years later on June 10, 1867.
Through the course of the series she becomes less "traditional" in multiple ways, such as allowing Samantha to wear bloomers to help her get over her fear of riding her bicycle and coming around to the idea that voting rights for women should be considered. She later remarries, becoming the wife of Archibald Beemis in a fall 1905 wedding, and lets Samantha move to New York to live with Gardner and Cornelia.
In The Books
Meet Samantha: An American Girl
Grandmary is first mentioned when Samantha thinks about what will happen if Grandmary sees her torn stocking; while she has a kind loving look towards Samantha normally, she can be stern when talking about being a lady. Thus, Samantha goes to be cleaned up by Jessie before her hour with Grandmary.
She is first seen when Sam goes to met her in the parlor for their sewing hour together; Sam thinks of her as a queen on her throne as she sits very straight with her hair in place and her gown flowing around the chair. They greet each other, then Grandmary bids Samantha sit and tells her to work a little harder on her sampler as it's not going very quickly. The saying on the sampler, ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS, is interpreted by Grandmary that how people act is more important than what they say. Samantha later asks for a doll and is told is it quite expensive. She horrifies Grandmary with talk of work to earn money (Grandmary says that a lady does not earn money) and, when told by Samantha that Cornelia thinks women should earn money, says that Cornelia has quite a few notions she should keep to herself. She does offer, however, that Samantha may earn the doll by behaving well and doing well at her tasks. When Gard and Cornelia show up in Gardner's automobile, Grandmary is upset, calling it a "dreadful machine" and wonders what she will tell the neighbors about it. Once the couple comes in, Grandmary says she is well but would be better if Gard hadn't ruined the peace of the neighborhood with his horrible machine and asks if he must bring it. When Gard says she'll take Sam riding, she says that Sam can't go because her clothes will be ruined, but lets her go after Cornelia offers her coat. She watches Gard and Sam go off together, shaking her head at the sight. She is then distracted by Jessie retrieving pepper for the many ants upstairs.Grandmary is next seen at another sewing hour, the one where Jessie announces her leaving. When Samantha outbursts at Jessie's announcement, Grandmary silences her with a look before thanking Jessie for her service and saying that Hawkins will have a bonus for her. When Sam asks why Jessie is leaving, Grandmary tells her not to question her elders and that it is Jessie's business. She calls to Samantha when she walks past the parlor after leaving and having spoken to Mrs. Hawkins and Hawkins; she has purchased the doll and left it on Samantha's bed.
The afternoon after Nellie is sent away from the Rylands Grandmary, Cornelia, Samantha, and Gardner are having tea. Sam blurts out that she knows why Jessie left, surprising Grandmary. Sam says it's because she had a baby. Grandmary asks how she knows and Samantha says that she and Nellie went to her house to see, expecting punishment. Grandmary looks more troubled than angry, saying that Samantha was wrong to do that. Samantha replies that Grandmary was wrong to not tell her why Jessie left. Grandmary inhales sharply and looks at Gardner and Cornelia. They are both silent, and Grandmary confesses she was wrong not to inform Samantha. After silence, Samantha asks if Jessie can come back. Grandmary says Jessie must care for the baby, and Samantha says she can bring Nathaniel because he won't bother anyone. Grandmary looks thoughtful and says that if Jessie wants to return and Mrs. Hawkins doesn't object, it should be okay. Samantha thanks Grandmary enthusiastically; Grandmary is embarrassed that she made a mistake. She changes the subject to the new doll, asking where it is. Samantha says she lost the doll. Grandmary becomes upset, starting to fuss at Samantha that she will never grow into a proper young lady and that she is trying to teach her the values of things. It's when Gard informs Grandmary what happened to the doll that she recants, saying that Samantha has a fine sense of value. Grandmary is initially shocked at Samantha's request they help the O'Malleys, then laughs and says yes--if Samantha can give up her treasure, then the family can find a way to help Nellie. She says that Samantha is a fine young lady and hugs her warmly.
Samantha Learns a Lesson: A School Story
Samantha's Surprise: A Christmas Story
Happy Birthday, Samantha!: A Springtime Story
Samantha Saves The Day: A Summer Story
Changes for Samantha: A Winter Story
Grandmary and Admiral Beemis are honeymooning aboard the Admiral's yacht following their wedding in the fall. Grandmary writes a postcard to Samantha about sailing off the coast of Greece and how much she misses her.
Grandmary greets Gardner and Cornelia when they arrive, quipping that things have been too quiet without Gard and his dreadful automobile. When she sees the bike that he is giving Samantha and Samantha asks to keep it, she is none too pleased. She says that in her day, bicycles were only ridden by women in circuses wearing tights; later, women were riding everywhere in the streets and some wore hideous bloomers that earned them the nickname "Bloomer Girls" which she considered it most unladylike. However, she allows Samantha to keep the bike if she is safe. After Samantha's first practice, she doesn't think they should go to the park but Samantha chooses to. When Samantha crashes, she is horrified, says Samantha could have been killed, and insists they go home right now.
After the bike is repaired, she tells Samantha and mentions that Hawkins can help her practice; she is a little surprised at Samantha's quick refusal to do so. She does not push the matter, though. When Samantha tries to ride again and falls, Grandmary sees her and goes out to comfort her. She understands that Samantha is scared that if she doesn't learn to ride she won't be part of her aunt and uncle's lives anymore, and offers to help her get over her fear of riding. She then gets Samantha a set of bloomers which help her overcome her fear of riding, later saying to Cornelia that a lady is a lady no matter what she's wearing (a statement Cornelia used earlier).
In The Film
In the film Grandmary is portrayed by Mia Farrow.