Monday, September 23, 2013

Update: The Edwardians (Part 1 of 4) (!!!)

I have to admit that sometimes I can even overwhelm myself with my obsessiveness. 

Which is what happened in the past couple of weeks as a result of my innocently checking out from the library The Oxford Companion to Edwardian Fiction, edited by Sandra Kemp, Charlotte Mitchell, and David Trotter.  This book focuses—in amazing and meticulous detail—on the literature of the years 1900-1914.  It's particularly brilliant in its attention to numerous lesser-known writers of that period, which makes it an invaluable resource for me.  The period covered is really just on the fringe of my own date range, but many of the writers mentioned continued writing well after 1914.  I came across it because it kept coming up in my Google results when I was searching for obscure writers—but its actual content was usually hidden or merely excerpted for obvious reasons of copyright.  So I finally got it from the library, figuring I would find a few new writers for my list, flesh out the earlier years of my time frame, and that would be that.

And indeed I did find a few new writers…

160 of them, to be exact.

Which is all to the good, but nevertheless a bit overwhelming, even for my Overwhelming List.  At one point, I found myself so buried in new names that I flirted with the notion of adjusting the time frame covered by my list.  Suddenly, 1920-1960 started to look like a rather elegant date range!

But ultimately I realized I had to stick with 1910 as my start date.  Most importantly, there are all of those World War I writings by women, many of which eloquently express the sense of combined liberation and trauma of those years for women—and some of which do so in strikingly original, experimental ways.  And then there's also Virginia Woolf's famous if perhaps facetious declaration that ''On or about December 1910 human character changed," which lends me some support for my start date. 

If it's good enough for Virginia

Florence Bell (aka Mrs. Hugh Bell),
whose Miss Tod and the Prophets (1898)
sounds intriguing

So I am powering through my overwhelmedness and will be adding the 160 writers to my list in four updates over the next two or three weeks.  And I have to say I have come across quite a few writers who seem genuinely intriguing and unexpected, and managed to enrich my own perspective on those early years—which I have tended to avoid, imagining only a plethora of scandalous potboilers, earnest social realism about vivisection, the "New Woman," and other social issues of the day, or impossibly pure tales of pristine heros and heroines overcoming impossible odds.

Suffice it to say that there is indeed a healthy mix of all of those types of writers in these updates.  But there are also a surprising number of authors who seem to have been ahead of their time, or to challenge the accepted restraints of the fiction of their day, and I'll try to point out the ones I found most interesting.

Portrait of Ellen Cobden, by her husband
(later estranged), Walter Sickert, whom 
crime writer Patricia Cornwell 
believes was Jack the Ripper--
no wonder they became estranged...

So, in this first batch of 40 writers, which basically encompasses the A's through F's, some of the ones I want to look at more closely include:

Eleanor Acland, whose 1904 novel In the Straits of Hope, about artists in Chelsea, could be interesting;

Florence Bell (aka Mrs. Hugh Bell), who made her obligatory contribution to the "new woman" theme, but also wrote Miss Tod and the Prophets (1898), apparently the humorous tale of a spinster who, taken in by a doomsday prospect, lives it up with her limited resources, and finds herself broke when the world fails to end as scheduled;

Gertrude Bone, whose Women of the Country (1913), with "its decisive but unsensational focus on the experience of women" (as OCEF puts it), tells of a middle-aged spinster attempting to help a pregnant unmarried girl, sounds like an interesting writer overall, and her books were often illustrated with etchings by her husband Muirhead Bone and her son Stephen Bone;

Ellen Cobden, who was not only the author of two well-received novels, The Wistons (1902) and Sylvia Saxon: Episodes in a Life (1914), but was also married for a time to Walter Sickert, the painter whom crime writer Patricia Cornwell identified as Jack the Ripper in her 2002 book Portrait of a Killer (for better or worse indeed!though I should point out that very few people take Cornwell's solution very seriously);

Lucy Dale and Gertrude Faulding, who, in the course of successful careers in other areas of writing (Dale was a historian and Faulding a children's author), wrote two novels together, both featuring strong, educated women characters: Time's Wallet (1913) is an epistolary novel featuring two educated, politically-involved women, and Merely Players (1917) deals with a successful woman playwright's troubled marriage;

and Alice Louisa Dudeney (aka Mrs. Henry Dudeney), whose tales of working class life were compared to the likes of Thomas Hardy and American short story writer Mary Wilkins Freeman (who I also highly recommend).

Also in this part of the alphabet were three writers who really were too early to fit my time frame, but who are each of interest for one reason or another.  I'm not adding them to the main list, but thought I'd mention them anyway:

Charlotte Eccles (aka Hal Godfrey) wrote two humorous novels which seem worth a look: The Rejuvenation of Miss Semaphore (1897), set in a boarding-house, and The Matrimonial Lottery (1906), about a woman editor of a troubled newspaper who rejuvenates her career by marrying money

Olive Birrell, whose novel Love in a Mist (1900) OCEF describes as a "conventional romance" but also as "an unusual portrait of young working women"

Mary Deane, who turns out to have been P. G. Wodehouse's aunt, and wrote children's books and novels including the romances The Rose-Spinner (1904) and The Other Pawn (1907)

These have all been added to the main list now. Hope you all find some writers of interest here as well!
Etching by Stephen Bone, from his mother
Gertrude Bone's novel Mr. Paul (1921)

Current count: 491 writers

ELEANOR ACLAND (1880-1933)
(aka Margaret Burneside and Eleanor Cropper)

Author of the novels In the Straits of Hope (1904), a novel about artists in Chelsea, and Dark Side Out (1921), a multi-generational family saga, as well as a memoir, Goodbye for the Present (1935).

(pseudonym of Effie Henderson, aka Effie Rowlands)

Author of more than 200 romantic novels from the 1890s until the 1930s, apparently characterized by gushing prose and fainting heroines; title include Poppies in the Corn (1911), The House That Jane Built (1921), and Claire and Circumstances (1928).

MRS. A. E. ALDINGTON (1872-1954)
(pseudonym of Jessie May Godfrey Aldington)

Mother of novelist Richard Aldington and innkeeper at the Mermaid Inn in Rye; author of several novels of Kentish village life, including Love Letters That Caused a Divorce (1905), A Man of Kent (1913), and The King Called Love (1913).

AMY J[OSEPHINE]. BAKER (dates unknown)

Now forgotten author of 40 romantic novels spanning five decades, including I Too Have Known (1911), The King's Passion (1920), Aurora (1928), Never Laugh at Love (1932), Fan Mail (1941), Swing Low, Swing High (1956), and Summer Isles of Eden (1962).

HYLDA BALL (dates unknown)

More research needed; sister of Kathlyn Rhodes and author of several novels from the 1910s to 1930s, including A Vase of Clay (1914), The Unhallowed Vow (1918), Peep o' Day (1929), and A Moorland Vendetta (1934).

(pseudonym of Edith Noel Daniell Barclay)

Author of five romances in the 1910s—Trevor Lordship (1911), A Dream of Blue Roses (1912), The Giant Fisher (1912), East of the Shadows (1913), and The Taste of Brine (1914)—after which she appears to have stopped writing.

JANE BARLOW (1857-1917)

Poet and novelist known for verse and fiction about Irish farm life and often incorporating Irish dialect; titles include Kerrigan's Quality (1894), The Founding of Fortunes (1902), and In Mio's Youth (1917).

E. BARRINGTON (1862-1931)
(pseudonym of Eliza Louisa Moresby, aka Elizabeth Louisa Beck and Lily Moresby Adams)

Having travelled widely for most of her life, Moresby only began writing at age 60, after which she explored themes of spirituality, romance, and the supernatural; titles include The Key of Dreams (1922), Dreams and Delights (1922), and The Exquisite Perdita (1926).

MRS. HUGH BELL (1851-1930)
(pseudonym of Florence Eveleen Eleanore Olliffe Bell)

Stepmother of Gertrude Bell; playwright, children's author, and novelist whose works include the New Woman novel The Story of Ursula (1895), the intriguing Miss Tod and the Prophets (1898), about a spinster taken in by doomsday prophets, and The Good Ship Brompton Castle (1915).

(aka Mrs. Coulson Kernahan or J. G. Kernahan)

Prolific author of popular, if implausible, romantic adventure novels, including The Mystery of Magdalen (1906), Ashes of Passion (1909), The Trap (1917), The Whip of the Will (1927), and A Village Mystery (1934).


Author of nine novels, primarily of exotic romance, sometimes mixed with fantasy; titles include Sons of the Milesians (1906), Out of the Dark (1910), The Temple of the Winds (1925), and Zeo the Scythian (1935).

GERTRUDE BONE (1876-1962)

Author of stories and several books illustrated by her husband Muirhead Bone, as well as three novels; perhaps most intriguing is Women of the Country (1913), about a spinster helping a pregnant unmarried girl.

MARIAN BOWER (dates unknown)

Author of light stories and novels from the 1890s to the 1930s, including The Wrestlers (1907), Skipper Anne: A Tale of Napoleon's Secret Service (1913), The Chinese Puzzle (1919), and Gotobedde Lane (1928).


More research needed; author of at least two novels—Downward: A 'Slice of Life' (1910) and The Honey of Romance (1915)—and two early marriage manuals, Modern Marriage and How to Bear It (1909) and The Love-Seeker: A Guide to Marriage (1913).


Novelist whose work seems—based on contemporary reviews—to have included rather overwrought melodramas; titles include The Dominant Passion (1913), The Shadow on the Stone (1918), and Dear Idiot (1926).

(aka Handasyde)

Author of several chilly high-society romances in the 1900s, Buchanan apparently returned to publish one further novel, Spare That Tree, in 1939, about which I could locate no information.

MRS. M. CHAN-TOON (1872-1922)
(pseudonym of Mabel Mary Agnes Chan-Toon, née Cosgrove, second married name Woodhouse-Pearse)

Married to a Burmese barrister and apparently a close friend of Oscar Wilde, Mabel Chan-Toon wrote novels exploring interracial relationships, including Leper and Millionaire (1910) and Love Letters of an English Peeress to an Indian Prince (1912).

ELLEN COBDEN (1848-1914)
(aka Miles Amber)

Wife of painter Walter Sickert and sister of publisher T. Fisher Unwin, Cobden seems to have begun writing late in life; she apparently published only two novels, The Wistons (1902) and Sylvia Saxon: Episodes in a Life (1914).

(pseudonym of Gertrude Baillie-Weaver)

Poet, novelist, and early feminist; Colmore is best known for Suffragette Sally (1908, reprinted 1984 as The Suffragettes), while several other works passionately promoted her anti-vivisection views.

H[ELEN]. H[ESTER]. COLVILL (1854-1941)
(aka Katharine Wylde)

More research needed; author of nine novels from 1880 to 1928 about which I could find little information; these include The Stepping Stone (1905), Lady Julia's Emerald (1908), The Incubus (1910), and The Lily of Lombardy (1928).

(née Blood-Smyth)

Author of several dozen light romantic novels, often featuring Irish sporting themes; titles include Lady Elverton's Emeralds (1909), The Financing of Fiona (1916), Uncle Pierce's Legacy (1920), Bobbie (1928), and Gulls at Rossnacorey (1939).

(pseudonym of Elizabeth Burgoyne Corbett)

More research needed; novelist and crime writer, many of whose works appeared in periodicals and have not been fully documented; known works include the utopic New Amazonia: A Foretaste of the Future (1890), The Marriage Market (1905), and An Unwilling Husband (1922).

MARIE CORELLI (1855-1924) (pseudonym of Mary Mackay)

Massively successful popular novelist whose bestsellers often featured mystical or religious themes, including Barabbas: A Dream of the World's Tragedy (1893), a fictionalized version of the crucifixion, and The Sorrows of Satan (1895); she continued publishing until shortly before her death.


More research needed; author of eight romantic novels such as Strange Gods (1889), The Virgin and the Scales (1905), The Honest Trespass (1911), The Perpetual Choice (1915), and Chain the Unicorn (1933).

MARGUERITE CURTIS (dates unknown)

More research needed; author of five novels which tended to mix religion and the supernatural, including The Bias (1908), Marcia: A Transcript from Life (1909), Oh! for an Angel (1911), The Dream Triumphant (1912), and The Dividing-Line (1913).

(pseudonym of Eleanora Mary d'Anethan, née Haggard)

Sister of H. Rider Haggard and author of several novels of her own, many of which made use of her time living in Japan with her diplomat husband, including Two Women (1909) and The Twin-Soul of O'Take San (1914).

EDITH DART (1871-1924)

Poet and author of five novels; Likeness (1911), about a typist who is the twin of a millionairess and impersonates her at a ball, sounds almost farcical, but Sareel (1920), about a girl from a workhouse who becomes a servant on a farm on the moors, is surely a bit darker.


Poet, playwright, novelist, and founder of International PEN (and later its historian), Dawson-Scott also wrote rather dark feminist novels, the later of which were influenced by Dorothy Richardson; titles include The Agony Column (1909), Against the Grain (1919), and The Haunting (1921).

(pseudonym of Rose Key Champion de Crespigny)

Painter, mystery writer, and novelist; her early novels featured spunky girls in historical situations, but later work such as The Mark (1912) and The Dark Sea (1927) deal with supernatural and spiritualist themes, as does her memoir This World and Beyond (1934).

LUCY DALE (dates unknown)

Later a successful historian, Dale published two novels in collaboration with Gertrude Faulding (see below)—Time's Wallet (1913), an epistolary novel about two educated, politically-involved women, and Merely Players (1917), about a woman writer's troubled marriage.

ALICE DEASE (1874-1949)

Novelist of Irish Catholic themes; works include Some Irish Stories (1912), The Lady of Mystery (1913), about a man buying back his ancestor's estate, Down West and Other Sketches of Irish Life (1914), and The Debt of Guy Arnolle (1919), after which she seems to have stopped publishing.

THEO DOUGLAS (dates unknown)
(pseudonym of Henrietta Dorothy Everett, née Huskisson)

Author of historical romances and melodramas, often with a supernatural component, from the 1890s until 1920; titles include A White Witch (1908), Miss Maybud: Marriage-Maker (1920), and Malevola (1914), a lesbian-themed vampire story.

MRS. HENRY DUDENEY (1866-1945)
(pseudonym of Alice Louisa Dudeney, née Whiffin)

Earning comparisons in her time to Thomas Hardy and American writer Mary Wilkins Freeman, Dudeney published dozens of novels and story collections focused on working class life, including The Third Floor (1901), What a Woman Wants (1914), and The Peep Show (1929).

K[ATHLEEN]. M[ARY]. EDGE (????-1946)

Living in India with her father and then her husband, Edge wrote four novels, three of which—Ahana (1902), The After Cost (1904), and The Shuttles of the Loom (1909), display her knowledge of India, while the fourth, Through the Cloudy Porch (1912), is set in South Africa.

FLORENCE FARR (1860-1917)

Compose, playwright, actress and novelist; known for a high-profile affair with George Bernard Shaw and her collaborations with William Butler Yeats; she also wrote two novels—The Dancing Faun (1894) and The Solemnization of Jacklin (1912).


Known for children's books about flowers and fairies, Faulding published two novels in collaboration with Lucy Dale (above)—Time's Wallet (1913), an epistolary novel about two educated, politically-involved women, and Merely Players (1917), about a woman writer's troubled marriage.

FLANEUSE (dates unknown)
(pseudonym of ?  Maud Yardley?  Elinor Glyn?)

Pseudonym used for numerous works of fiction between the 1910s and 1930; OCEF speculates more than one author could have written under the name—possibly Maud Yardley and/or Elinor Glyn; works include Scored! (1913) and The Triumphant Woman (1918).

ANGELA FORBES (1876-1950)
(pseudonym of Angela Selina Bianca St. Clair-Erskine Forbes)

Organizer of WWI catering services and author of risqué (for their time) novels and memoirs, including The Broken Commandment (1910), The Other Woman's Shadow (1912), and Should She Have Spoken? (1923).

MRS. WALTER R. D. FORBES (1866-1924)
(pseudonym of Eveline Louisa Michell Farwell Forbes)

Author of nine novels about which little information is available; titles include Blight (1897), A Gentleman (1900), Nameless (1909), and His Alien Enemy (1918).

M. E. FRANCIS (1859-1930)
(pseudonym of Mary Sweetman Blundell)

Author of several dozen novels, both as sole author and, in later years, in collaboration with her daughters Margaret and Agnes Blundell; works focused on rural life, and titles include The Manor Farm (1902), Hardy-on-the-Hill (1908), and Dark Rosaleen (1915).

Alice Louisa Dudeney, compared to Thomas Hardy
and American writer Mary Wilkins Freeman

Eleanor Acland, whose 1904 novel
In the Straits of Hope seems of interest


  1. Mercy! Take care of your health, Scott. You'll have to live long to read the works of all these writer! Still, I imagine you'll never be bored.


    1. Great pic, Kristi. Thanks for finding that!

      As for your first comment, I think I'd have to live at least a hundred years more to read them all. But I do really enjoy just exploring them a little and compiling the list, so I guess, barring a discovery of the Fountain of Youth, that will have to do!


  3. 160 MORE writers? Oh Scott...

    I wonder if a little sub-division might be in order? By birth year? Year of first pub?

    Indeed, I can see why you might be overwhelmed...

    1. Yes indeed, Susan, I think you're right! I've been pondering possible ways of subdividing, as I've realized that I will end up with 700-800 writers at least. I just haven't quite decided the most useful way to do that. By decade, perhaps (i.e. writers active in 1910s, active in 1920s, etc.)? I'm planning to experiment with some possibilities soon.

  4. So Baroness Albert D'Anethan was her married name and not a pseudonym.....

    1. I'm considering it a pseudonym because she's using her husband's name, Albert. Many women writers in these early years did the same (Mrs. Hugh Bell, Mrs. Humphry Ward, etc.), and since I do want to include the writers' real names as well, I used "pseudonym" for consistency. Perhaps "pen name" is more accurate in those cases. The whole "Mrs." phenomenon kind of grates on my nerves--as if the women had no real identities apart from their husbands--but I realize it was the culture of the time. Can you imagine if Virginia Woolf had written as "Mrs. Leonard Woolf"? We would surely think differently of her!

      At any rate, I see that I should update the second line to "pseudonym of Eleanora Mary d'Anethan, nee Haggard," to make it clearer. Which may be what you meant to begin with?

  5. I am so pleased to run across this blog, as I have a great interest also in UK women writers, in my case from 1900-1930. I especially like Ellen Thorneycroft Fowler, who is very witty (daughter of an Earl). She wrote 11 novels, 1899-1923. All have merit.

    1. I'm glad you found me! I don't know if it's a quirk of Blogger, but I only see you as "Anonymous," so I can't personalize my thanks for your input, but please always feel free to comment or share information or drop me a line via email. Welcome!



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