Sunday, June 11, 2017

Born Today June 11: Mrs. Humphrey Ward


Austrailio/British writer Mary Augusta Ward (nee Arnold), who published under her married name of Mrs. Humphrey Ward, was born on this date in Hobart, Australia (located on the island of Tasmania).  Her family was heavily peopled with both writers and teachers.  In 1856, her father converted to Roman Catholicism, which made him deeply unpopular locally and unwelcome in the school that he worked in, so the family was forced to relocate to England.  Mary herself was educated in a serious of boarding schools in the United Kingdom.  She was also self-educated, especially in languages.   In 1872, she married Humphrey Ward, and for the first nine years of their marriage they lived in Oxford.  Her first forays into writing came in 1877, when she wrote a series of biographies of early Spanish ecclesiastics; by 1885, she added translation to her list of talents.  Her first publications came in a series of articles that she wrote for Macmillan's Magazine.  At the same time she went to work writing a book for children.  At this point in her life, she began writing novels--which tended to be high on Victorian morals.  Before long she was famous in her adopted country, and it did not take much more time for her fame to spread to the United States.  One of the things that she was known for was adamant stance against women gaining the vote in the UK and she was one the most high profile woman in the Anti-Suffrage movement.  Curiously, during World War I, then President of the United States Theodore Roosevelt asked to undertake writing a series of articles aimed at informing the citizens of this country what was going in her country.  This resulted in three books.  Only four films have been made of her work and all of them were in the silent era.  Her morality soon fell out of fashion and, along with it, so did her novels.  The first film made her work came in 1916 with The Marriage Of William Ashe from her novel of the same name--the film was produced by Hepworth in the UK.  The next film made from her work was Missing (1918) and was based on one of her novels set during World War I; it was the first film of her work produced states-side.  The third film made from her work was Lady Rose's Daughter and was produced by the Famous Players-Lasky Corp. and came out in 1920.  The last film (so far) to use one of her novels as script material was an American remake of The Marriage Of William Ashe produced by the Metro Pictures Corp. and was released in 1921.   Ward died in London, England on the 26th of March 1920 at 68 years of age.  She was interred in St. John The Baptist churchyard in a small village in Hertfordshire, near her beloved country estate.  

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