Saturday, October 19, 2013

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

I admit that it is with a feeling of considerable relief that I post the final Edwardian update (and I imagine those of you who have read all of these are a bit relieved too).  Although there have certainly been some real high points, including a few in this update (see below)—writers I might never have come across were I less obsessive, who seem to have been ahead of their time, experimental, intriguing, or outright radical—overall I remain less excited about this earlier period than I am about the daughters and granddaughters of these writers, who began publishing in the 1930s or 1940s. 

In those later years, I find I can get excited even about the more prosaic romance writers, or the voluminously wordy and turgid historical novelists, or mystery authors who lack finesse and are barely read by the most passionate mystery fans.  Even if I don't always want to read these writers, I very often find them interesting for the place they occupy in the culture of their time and for the light they shed on their contemporaries whom I might like better.  Whereas, for me, many of the writers from the 1900s and 1910s seem to blur and run together a bit.  So many seem to have written the same sorts of stiff, melodramatic romances, "marriage problem" stories, and the like.  (This problem in distinguishing similar writers might be exacerbated by the plethora of Dorotheas in these updates—perhaps appropriately symbolic of the influence the Victorian writer, George Eliot, still had on these later generations.)

However, I quite recognize that my difficulty in part results from simply knowing less about the very early 1900s than about the mid-century.  As a result, I have less sense of how the writers fit into their time.  But, as someone who has always gravitated toward the modernist period, arguably beginning around 1910, one thing that struck me—which should be obvious, but isn't always—is the extent to which new literary styles don't just suddenly transform the whole scene, as one might think from critics and from the works that get remembered in later years. 

E. M. Forster's Howards End, often seen as a trailblazing work that helped usher in literary modernism, appeared the same year as Agnes Weekes' romance Faith Unfaithful (1910), which sounds about as traditional and untrailblazing as a novel could be.  Adele Crafton Smith, who prided herself on having a Victorian sensibility, published A Strange Will and Its Consequences the same year as Guillaume Apollinaire's radically experimental modernist poems in Alcools (1913)—which was also the year of the New York Armory Show, the first major exhibition of cubism and other modern art styles in the U.S.  And even as late as 1922, Victorian writer Florence Warden's novel The Lady in Furs might have been found next to Joyce's Ulysses on bookstore shelves.  Somehow, I found it useful to be reminded of all that is always going on simultaneously in the literary world. 

Human character may have changed in 1910, as Virginia Woolf claimed, but apparently some humans didn't get the memo.

As I mentioned, though, as happy as I am to be finishing up with my Edwardians, there were several particularly interesting women in this batch.  All have now been added to the main list here:

EVELYN SHARP, a suffragist whose fiction for both adults and children was also politically involved.  Sharp has received increased attention in recent years as a result of Angela John's biography, Evelyn Sharp: Rebel Woman, 1869-1955, and Faber has reissued Sharp’s memoir, An Unfinished Adventure (1933), which sounds fascinating.

Evelyn Sharp, whose fiction and memoirs
reflect her experience in the suffrage movement

CECILY SIDGWICK (aka MRS. ALFRED SIGDWICK), who wrote light, humorous novels that sound irresistible, including some based on her own experiences with her husband in artists’ colonies.  Historian David Tovey has created an extensive bio of Sidgwick which you can read here.

MARIE STOPES, famous for her trailblazing books Married Love (1918) and Radiant Motherhood (1920), which advocated birth control and family planning and were controversially frank about sexuality.  Who knew that she also published two novels under pseudonyms?

Marie Stopes, who wrote two novels in addition to her
scandalous works about birth control and sexuality

EVELYN BEATRICE HALL (aka S. G. TALLENTYRE), who is best remembered now for a well-received biography of Voltaire called The Friends of Voltaire (1906), but whose novels may also be intriguing, especially Early-Victorian: A Village Chronicle (1910), which OCEF notes is “about heartbreak and restricted lives in a remote village.”

NORA VYNNE, a journalist and (somewhat conservative) advocate of women’s suffrage, whose fiction—particularly her short stories—was praised by such prestigious figures as J. M. Barrie and H. G. Wells.

SUSAN ROWLEY LONG (aka CURTIS YORKE), author of what OCEF calls (rather dismissively) "cheerful, lightweight romances"—which of course piques my interest…

EDITH AYRTON ZANGWILL, whose passionate activism and suffragism was no doubt partly inspired by her mother and stepmother, who were both trailblazing women as well.  Her mother was a doctor who campaigned for women’s right to be certified as doctors but died tragically young.  Her stepmother was a notable scientist and militant suffragette, upon whose life Zangwill seems to have based her late novel, The Call (1924).  That work and Zangwill’s final novel, The House (1928), which deals with her own nervous breakdown following the death of her husband, both sound promising.

Edith Zangwill, activist and novelist

Current count: 608


Author of several romantic novels, including Diaries of Three Women of the Last Century (1907), The Blackberry Pickers (1912), The Shape of the World (1912), and The Tollhouse (1915).

(sometimes written Baillie-Saunders)

Prolific novelist whose light fiction frequently contains Catholic themes;  titles include The Mayoress's Wooing (1908), The Belfry (1914), Young Madam at Clapp's (1917), The Lighted Caravan (1929), Dear Devotee (1940), and Lost Landladies (1947).

ETHEL SAVI (1865-1954)

Born and raised in India, Savi published more than eighty novels after her return to England in 1909, apparently mostly melodramatic romances which make some use of her experiences in India; she also published a memoir, My Own Story (1947).

EVELYN SHARP (1869-1955)

Suffragette, children's author and novelist; her collection Rebel Women (1910) makes humorous use of suffragism and women's rights, and her children's books portray children as intelligent and rational; her memoir, Unfinished Adventure (1933), has been reissued by Faber.

MRS. ALFRED SIDGWICK (c.1855-1934)
(pseudonym of Cecily Wilhelmine Ullmann, aka Mrs. Andrew Dean)

Prolific novelist whose light social comedies sound potentially enjoyable, including Below Stairs (1912), about a servant girl's woes, Salt and Savour (1916), Victorian (1922), London Mixture (1924), and Storms and Tea-Cups (1931).

ADELE CRAFTON SMITH (dates unknown)
(aka Nomad)

Poet and novelist who, according to OCEF, thought of herself as a Victorian writer; her six novels include The Woman Decides (1912), about family life in the country, Reminiscences of a Prima Donna (1912), and A Strange Will and Its Consequences (1913).

(aka Mrs. H. de Vere Stacpoole, née Robson)

More research needed; married to Henry de Vere Stacpoole, author of The Blue Lagoon (1908); author of three novels of her own—Monte Carlo: A Novel (1913), London, 1913 (1914), and The Battle of Flowers (1916).

(pseudonym of Alice Cecil Seymour Keay)

Author, with her husband Heath Hosken, of numerous sensationalistic novels, including Miriam Lemaire, Money Lender (1906) and Raven, V. C. (1913), and on her own of eleven romance novels, including The Cottage Girl (1928) and The Pretty Stewardess (1932).

MARIE STOPES (1880-1958)
(aka G. N. Mortlake, Erica Fay, and Marie Carmichael)

Best known for Married Love (1918) and Radiant Motherhood (1920), controversial works which dealt with birth control and sexuality, she also published two pseudonymous novels, Love Letters of a Japanese (1911) and Love's Creation (1928).

ESME STUART (1851-1934)
(pseudonym of Amelie Claire LeRoy)

Author of fiction, primarily for children and young girls, including The Strength of Straw (1900) and A Charming Girl (1907), and a successful series including Harum Scarum (1896), Two Troubadours (1912), and Harum Scarum's Fortune (1915).

S. G. TALLENTYRE (1868-1956)
(pseudonym of Evelyn Beatrice Hall)

Biographer of Voltaire and author of at least three novels—Early-Victorian (1910), about village life, Matthew Hargraves (1914), and Love Laughs Last (1919); oddly, the British Library says the "S" stands for Stephen and gives "his" life dates as "1868-1919".

ANNIE O[LIVE]. TIBBITS (dates unknown)

Author of sixpenny novels including Marquess Splendid (1910), Love Without Pity (1915), Broken Fetters: A Thrilling Story of Factory and Stage Life (!!) (1917), The Grey Castle Mystery (1919), Paid in Full (1920), and Under Suspicion (1921).

L[IZZIE]. E[LLEN]. TIDDEMAN (????-1937)

More research needed; prolific author of children's fiction (and novels?); titles include Next-Door Gwennie (1910), Aunt Pen, or, Roses and Thorns (1912), Uncle Sam's Little Lady (1916), and Quicksands! (1924).

MRS. HENRY TIPPETT (1880-1969)
(pseudonym of Isabel Clementine Binny Tippett, née Kemp)

Suffragist, nurse, and mother of composer Sir Michael Tippett; author of eight New Woman and "marriage problem" novels, including The Power of the Petticoat (1911), Green Girl (1913), Life-Force (1915), and Living Dust (1922).


Biographer, children's author, and novelist; her children's fiction include The Faery of Lisbawn (1900) and The Children of Nugentstown and Their Dealings with the Sidhe (1911); novels include A Girl from Mexico (1914), a Western influenced by her life with her husband on an American ranch.


Author of several melodramatic novels, including The Doom of the House of Marsaniac (1905), The Romance of a State Secret (1911), and The Night Dancer (1912).

LAURA TROUBRIDGE (c.1865-1946)
(née Gurney, aka Lady Troubridge)

Novelist and etiquette writer, related by marriage to Una Troubridge, Radclyffe Hall's partner; The Book of Etiquette (1931) and Etiquette and Entertaining (1939) were used to research the film Gosford Park; novels include Mrs. Vernon's Daughter (1917) and The Dusty Angel (1927).

L. PARRY TRUSCOTT (?1869-1915)
(pseudonym of Katherine Edith Spicer-Jay)

More research needed; journalist and author of several novels, including Motherhood (1904), The Question (1910), Hilary's Career (1913), and Obstacles (1916).


Suffragist, journalist, and novelist, whose work is influenced by socialist beliefs and interest in the occult; works include The Heart of a Woman (1917), Ghosts I Have Seen and Other Psychic Experiences (1919), and Found Dead and Other True Ghost Stories (1928).

DEREK VANE (?1856-1939)
(pseudonym of Blanche Eaton Back)

Author of mysteries and romance novels from the 1890s to the 1930s, including The Three Daughters of Night (1897), Lady Varley (1914), The Trump Card (1925), The Unguarded Hour (1929), and Dancer's End (1934).

NORA VYNNE (1864-1914)

Journalist, activist, and novelist; her story collection The Blind Artist's Pictures (1893) and novel A Man and His Womankind (1895) were praised by the likes of J. M. Barrie and H. G. Wells; later work includes the novels The Pieces of Silver (1911) and So It Is with the Damsel (1913).

(pseudonym of Florence Alice James, née Price)

Playwright, actress, and novelist; works often deal with marital drama and include Who Was Lady Thorne? (1904), Mad Sir Geoffrey (1907), The Price of Silence (1916), The Grey Moth (1920), and The Lady in Furs (1922).

GERTRUDE WARDEN (dates unknown)

More research needed; prolific novelist of the 1890s to 1910s; some titles are intriguing, such as The Wooing of a Fairy (1897), Merely Man (1909), The World, the Flesh and the Casino (1909), and Two Girls and a Saint (1915).

A[GNES]. R[USSELL]. WEEKES (1880-1940)

Sister of Rose (below); the sisters wrote novels together and separately;  Rose herself wrote more than a dozen romantic novels including Faith Unfaithful (1910), Spanish Sunlight (1925), Esmé's Sons (1930), and Revel's Wife (1940).


Sister of Agnes (above); wrote novels with her sister as well as on her own; Rose's novels include The Laurensons (1913), B 14 (1920), Sea Nymph (1927), and Mignonette (1930).

MRS. GEORGE WEMYSS (1868-????)
(pseudonym of Mary Wemyss, née Lutyens)

Children's author and novelist; sister of architect Edwin Lutyens; according to OCEF, her novels often focus on children; titles include The Professional Aunt (1910), People of Popham (1911), Impossible People (1918), and Oranges and Lemons (1919).


Author of dozens of "smartly witty novels, self-consciously progressive especially about sex" (OCEF) in the 1900s-1920s, such as Pink Purity (1909), Green Grapes (1918), A Bargain Bride (1929); her late novel The Television Girl (1928) may be of interest as an early futuristic novel.

MARGARET WESTRUP (dates unknown)

More research needed; author of several novels in the 1900s-1920s, including The Greater Mischief (1907), Phyllis in Middlewych (1911), Tide Marks (1913), The Moulding Loft (1917), The Fog and the Fan (1920), and The Blue Hat (1921).


Critic, biographer, translator, and novelist whose early fiction, such as Widdicombe (1905) and A Man of Genius (1908), was influenced by Hardy; later works include The Sleeping Partner (1919), Ropes of Sand (1926), Delicate Dilemmas (1927), and The Cup and the Lip (1929).


Social worker, children's author, Biblical writer, and novelist; fiction includes Moll o' the Toll-Bar (1911), Father M.P. (1923), and The Children of Trafalgar Square (1925); discussed in Rediscovering Forgotten Radicals, edited by Angela Ingram and Daphne Patai.

pseudonym of Violet Louise Wrench, née Gibbs, aka Mollie Stanley Wrench)

Author of cookbooks and romantic novels, including Love's Fool: The Confessions of a Magdalen (1908), A Priestess of Humanity (1911), Divorced Love (1927), Green Pleasure (1934), and The Rose Dies Hard (1938).

I[DA]. A[LEXA]. R[OSS]. WYLIE (1885-1959)

Suffragist, novelist, and popular short story writer whose works were often adapted as films, including Keeper of the Flame (1942), made into the Hepburn-Tracy film of the same name; Towards Morning (1918) was acclaimed as a relatively balanced portrayal of post-WWI Germans.

DOLF WYLLARDE (????-1950)
(pseudonym of Dorothy Margarette Selby Lowndes)

More research needed; prolific novelist whose work, according to OCEF, spans "both exotic tales and more serious examinations of the predicament of single women"; titles include The Unofficial Honeymoon (1911), Youth Will be Served (1913), and The Lavender Lad (1922).

MAUD H. YARDLEY (dates unknown)

Author of eight novels of the 1900s and 1910s, including Sinless (1906), To-day and Love (1910), A Man's Life Is Different, or, The Sleeping Flame (1914), and Soulmates (1917).

CURTIS YORKE (????-1930)
(pseudonym of Susan Rowley Long, later Lee)

Popular author of dozens of "cheerful, lightweight romances" (OCEF) from the 1880s until the 1920s; titles include Queer Little Jane (1912), The Level Track (1919), Miss Daffodil (1920), and Maidens Three (1928).


Prolific novelist whose work is often set in South Africa and generally romantic in tone, though she published at least one early sci-fi/fantasy novel called The War of the Sexes (1905); others include The Purple Mists (1914), The Broken Silence (1926), and Hidden Passage (1941).


From a family of pioneering women (mother a doctor, stepmother a scientist), Zangwill was a suffragist and activist; her early novels deal humorously with women's issues, but The Call (1924) is about suffragism and The House (1928) deals with her own nervous breakdown.


  1. Adele Crafton Smith was born Adele Margueritte Stannard in 1844 at Trouville-sur-Mer, France. She died 21 August 1922 in Dorset England

    1. Sorry I missed this before. Thanks for the information!

  2. Hi, I am interested in the works of Dorothea Townshend through her children's stories. From what I have been able to ascertain she never lived in America, but married her husband and collaborator, Richard Baxter Townshend, after he returned from a stint as a 'tenderfoot' in Colorado. He didn't return to America until 1903 and this final time was 'just visiting'. His family was from County Cork, while she was born in Gloucestershire. They lived in Bath for a while, then Oxford for the remainder of Richard's life.

    1. Thanks for the info, Sue. I'll update her listing when I do the next update to the list. Thanks for sharing it!


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