MORDAUNT, Elinor (c. 1872-1942)

MORDAUNT, Elinor (c. 1872-1942)
daughter of St John L. Clowes and the Hon. Mrs Clowes, was born at Cotgrove Place, Nottinghamshire, England, about the year 1872, and was christened Evelyn Mary. In 1897 she went to Mauritius and there married a planter named Wiehe. The marriage was unfortunate, and about two and a half years later Mrs Wiehe found it impossible to live any longer with her husband and returned to England. Shortly afterwards she went to Australia and lived at Melbourne for about eight years. Her son was born immediately after she arrived. The English Who's Who for 1942 stated that she went to Australia in 1902 and returned to England in 1908. But in the introduction to her On the Wallaby through Victoria, published in London in 1911, the author stated that she had been in Victoria for more than eight years. It was necessary for her to earn a living and while in Melbourne she edited a woman's fashion paper, wrote short stories and articles, made blouses, designed embroideries—and gardens, acted as a housekeeper, and did artistic work of various kinds. She was not strong in health, but with great courage undertook any kind of work which would provide a living for herself and her infant son. At times she had a hard struggle, but she gained an experience of life which was of the greatest use to her as an author. Her first book, the Garden of Contentment, was published in England in 1902. At Melbourne she published a volume of sketches, Rosemary, That's for Remembrance (1909), and in 1911 appeared On the Wallaby through Victoria, by E. M. Clowes, an interesting account of conditions in that state at that period. Returning to England she began a long series of volumes of fiction; Miller in his Australian Literature lists about 30 books. She established a reputation as a writer of short stories for magazines, and several of the volumes in this list are collections of these stories. Mrs Mordaunt travelled in the East Indies and adjacent islands and used her experiences in her fiction, and in travel books such as The Venture Book, The Further Venture Book, and Purely for Pleasure. Her interesting autobiography, Sinabada, published in 1937, includes an account of her early struggles in Australia, written without bitterness, and with appreciative reference to the kindnesses she had received. In 1933 she married R. R. Bowles. She died at Oxford on 25 June 1942. Her son by her first marriage was alive when she was writing Sinabada; she mentions that he had married and had children.
Elinor Mordaunt was a quiet, rather frail woman, who was ready at any moment to take a voyage in a sailing ship or visit any savage island. She was completely courageous, her experience of life had given her much understanding, and her novels are competent and interesting. Possibly her best work was put into her short stories, often showing a grim sense of tragedy and humour. A collection of them appeared in 1934, The Tales of Elinor Mordaunt. In addition to the volumes included in Miller, she was also the author of Death it is, Judge Not, Hobby Horse, Roses in December, Tropic Heat, Here Too is Valour, and Blitz Kids.
The Times, 27 June 1942; E. Morris Miller, Australian Literature; E. Mordaunt, Sinabada; E. M. Clowes, On the Wallaby; personal knowledge.

Dictionary of Australian Biography by PERCIVAL SERLE. . 1949.

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  • Elinor Mordaunt — (also known as Evelyn May Clowes and Evelyn May Mordaunt) (7 May 1872 25 June 1942) was an English author, writer and traveler.Elinor was the fifth child of John Legh Clowes and his wife the Hon. Mrs Elizabeth Caroline Clowes née Bingham and was… …   Wikipedia

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