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Mrs Humphry Ward
by John Sutherland
Bestselling novelist, co-founder of Somerville college, World War I reporter and anti-suffragette, Ward was a major figure of her time. Sutherland nevertheless argues that the constraints on her were great and her very achievements were a source of personal difficulty.
Mrs Humphry Ward: Eminent Victorian, Pre-eminent Edwardian by John Sutherland
Mary Ward (1851-1920) had a furiously active public career, her literary and philanthropic activities transforming her from an eminent Victorian into a pre-eminent Edwardian. The granddaughter of Thomas Arnold, she found herself at the centre of an intellectual and cultural coterie comprising the Arnold, Huxley, and Trevelyan families. Her novel, Robert Elsmere (1888), the first of a series of bestsellers, earned her both unprecedented sums of money and the critical respect of writers such as Henry James. She helped found Somerville College, Oxford, the University's first institution for the higher education of women, and inaugurated a number of play centres for the children of London's working women, despite being a fierce opponent of women's suffrage. As the first female reporter to visit the trenches in 1916, she was instrumental in bringing America into the war. Yet for all her achievements, her private life was overshadowed - often tragically so - by misfortune. Her parents's marriage was seriously affected by her father's religious doubts; she eclipsed her husband, a Times journalist and art critic, while her indolent son frittered away her financial and emotional resources. John Sutherland's fascinating study of the private suffering of this predominantly public person also provides useful insights into the restrictions placed upon women in the late-Victorian-Edwardian era. This title also appears in the Oxford General Books catalogue for Autumn 1990.
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`To make a major biography out of a minor subject is a hard thing to do; when it succeeds as triumphantly as this one, it deserves a fanfare.' Claire Tomalin, Independent on Sunday `John Sutherland's marvellous treatment...has removed the mufflers and brought us a human being, hugely gifted, selfish, ambitious, wrong-headed and lovable. He is always witty, never cruel. He has gone through the family papers with a keen and sympathetic eye; and he thoroughly inhabits the period, its religion, its literature and its social conventions.' Claire Tomalin, Independent on Sunday `Brilliant...some enthralling chapters...But the canvas never feels overcrowded, and the pace of the story is beautifully maintained.' Claire Tomalin, Independent on Sunday `lively, intelligent biography... wonderfully absorbing' New Statesman `a splendid life of Mrs Ward, and a convincing defence against her many detractors' Literary Review `John Sutherland's carefully researched...account of her life is clearly the best yet.' Julia Briggs, Observer `a brilliant account of why his subject is no more than a footnote in history, of the decline of an intellectual dynasty, and of the shifting focuses of thought from late Victorian to early 20th Century England' Financial Times `It's a classic book, beautifully produced, and will give profound satisfaction to anyone who cares to read slightly off the beaten track.' Claire Tomalin, Independent on Sunday 'John Sutherland's admirably researched first full biography of her life will provide a wealth of answers.' John Moynihan, Catholic Herald 'John Sutherland's carefully researched and generally lively account of her life is clearly the best yet.' Julia Briggs, The Observer 'John Sutherland's lively, intelligent biography does not flinch from the disagreeable aspects of its subject ...a wonderfully absorbing biography.' New Statesman & Society 'It is a compelling study. Sutherland is a natural biographer, sensitive to his subject but never fawning, witty, erudite, absolutely at home with the social, political and religious ideas of the period.' Jackie Wullschlager, Financial Times 'Professor Sutherland has written a splendid life of Mrs Ward, and a convincing defence against her many detractors.' Charles Stephens, Literary Review 'lively, intelligent biography ... a wonderfully absorbing biography' Zoe Heller, New Statesman 'This is a marvellously informative book, with much to say about the cultural context which produced the fiction of Mrs Humphry Ward. But it is also an unexpectedly poignant account of what is now remembered (if at all ) as a complacent or even repellent life.' London Review of Books 'To make a major biography out of a minor subject is a hard thing to do; when it succeeds as triumphantly as this one, it deserves a fanfare. John Sutherland's marvellous treatment ... he has removed the mufflers and brought us a human being, hugely gifted, selfish, ambitious, wrong-headed and lovable. He is always witty, never cruel. He has gone through the family papers with a keen and sympathetic eye; and he thoroughly inhabits the period, its religion, its literature and its social conventions ... brilliant ... some enthralling chapters ... But the canvas never feels overcrowded, and the pace of the story is beautifully maintained ... his comedy never denies human values and feeling ... It's a classic book, beautifully produced, and will give profound satisfaction to anyone who cares to read slightly off the beaten track.' Independent on Sunday `John Sutherland's bold disinterment of this prolific writer and prodigious personality who towered over Victorian England makes enthralling reading .' Independent on Sunday 'an unputdownable biography ... brilliant and sympathetic analysis of the forces that made this Big Ben of Victorian values tick' Rebecca Fraser, Telegraph 'model biography ... a sad story, brilliantly told' Joan Smith, The Guardian 'meticulous biography' Michelene Wandor, Sunday Times 'important book' Elizabeth Longford, Spectator 'one of the most engaging aspects of this book is its author's unquestionable sense of amusement, indulgently exercised towards his subject and her world ... John Sutherland's splendid re-creation shows that Mrs Humphrey Ward still has much to teach us' Times Literary Supplement 'From apparently unpromising materials John Sutherland has fashioned an unputdownable biography ... brilliant and sympathetic analysis of the forces that made this Big Ben of Victorian values tick' Rebecca Fraser, Daily Telegraph 'Sutherland's book, which can claim to be the definitive Life, makes for absorbing reading and is full of rewarding observations.' Neville Braybrooke, The Tablet 'model biography ... Hers is a sad story, brilliantly told.' Joan Smith, The Guardian 'Sutherland's book, which can claim to be the definitive Life, makes for absorbing reading and is full of rewarding observations.' Neville Braybrooke, The Tablet 'John Sutherland writes well ... on the driving, ambitious, overbearing, courageous personality of Mrs Humphrey Ward. John Sutherland has disinterred her and in this biography she lives again.' Features & Arts, World Service in English Book Talks 'a fascinating insight into late-Victorian preoccupations' Isabel Colegate, Daily & Sunday Telegraph 'a fascinating study of how much a woman could and could not do in a Victorian-Edwardian era' Guernsey Evening Press & Star 'Among biographies, Mrs Humphry Ward, by John Sutherland is outstanding. This book rescues her from undeserved oblivion as a character and representative of her age.' John Grigg, The Times 'brilliantly witty and wide-ranging study' Claire Tomalin, Independent on Sunday 'this excellent biography by John Sutherland puts her life and work in a more balanced perspective' Richard Harries, Bishop of Oxford, Church Times 'absorbing life of Mrs Humphry Ward' English Studies, Volume 72, Number 6, December 1991 'John Sutherland tells a wonderful tale - witty, shapely, laconic, plausible, dramatic ... His steady gaze reveals the more because it is so courteous - not indulgent, nor over gallant, but somehow gentlemanly.' Cicely Palser Havely, The Open University, Notes and Queries, September 1992
About John Sutherland
John Sutherland has taught at the universities of Edinburgh and London. He is the author of Victorian Novelists and Publishers (1976), Fiction and the Fiction Industry (1980) and The Longman Companion to Victorian Fiction (1989).
Table of Contents
List of illustrations; The girlhood of Mary Arnold: 1851-1860; Schooldays: 1860-1867; Oxford: 1867-1871; Stabs at fiction: 1867-1871; Marriage: 1870-1872; Marriage and Oxford: 1872-1878; Fighting back: 1878-1880; London: 1880-1886; The right book: 1883-1884; The Elsmere ordeal: 1884-1888; Elsmere mania: 1888; The fiction machine: 1890-1900; Families - the Arnolds: 1890-1900; Families - the Wards: 1890-1900; Homes: 1888-1900; Respectable genius: 1890-1900; Health: 1890-1900; The Passmore Edwards settlement: 1892-1900; Eleanor: 1900; Best-selling novelist, failed dramatist: 1901-1905; Family matters: 1900-1905; Mid-Edwardian: 1906; The Testing of Diana Mallory: 1907; The new world: 1908; Anti-suffragist: 1909; Arnold Ward, MP: 1910-1911; Calamities: 1912-1914; The Wards and war: 1914-1917; Soldier in skirts: 1916-1917; The end: 1918-1920; Notes; Chronology of Mary Ward; Select bibliography; Index
Mrs Humphry Ward: Eminent Victorian, Pre-eminent Edwardian by John Sutherland
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