Edith Barretto Stevens Parsons was born in 1878 in Houston, Virginia. She studied with Daniel Chester French, and at the Art Students League of New York where she won a sculpture prize and scholarships. She sculpted figures for the 1902 St. Louis Exposition’s Liberal Arts Building, and in 1908 showed her sculpture Earth Mother at the National Academy of Design. That same year she married Howard Crosby Parsons and built a studio on the top floor of their home. Her work changed its subject matter as her own children were born and posed for her sculptures, often holding ducks, turtles, and other creatures. Duck Baby, beginning a series of garden sculptures for which she is best known today, was the popular hit of the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition. The exposition handbook stated: “In the presence of so much that is weighty and powerful, the popularity of Duck Baby is a significant and touching indication of the world’s hunger for what is cheerful and mirth-provoking.” The same may be said of Turtle Baby and Frog Baby, which forms the centerpiece of the small works collection at Brookgreen Gardens, South Carolina.
Parsons also created portrait busts and public monuments including a World War I memorial in Summit, New Jersey, and a fountain dedicated to John Galloway in Memphis, Tennessee.