WARD, Mary Augusta, (Mrs Humphrey Ward), (1851-1920)

WARD, Mary Augusta, (Mrs Humphrey Ward), (1851-1920)
was born at Hobart, on 11 June 1851. Her father, Thomas Arnold (1823-1900), the second son of Arnold of Rugby, came to Tasmania early in 1850 and organized its primary education. There he met and married in June 1850 Julia Sorell, daughter of William Sorell, registrar of deeds at Hobart, and grand-daughter of William Sorell (q.v.), the third governor of Tasmania. Thomas Arnold was received into the Roman Catholic Church on 12 January 1856 and feeling ran so high against him on this account that he resigned his appointment and returned to England with his family. Mary Arnold had her fifth birthday about a month before they left, and she had no further connexion with Tasmania. Thomas Arnold at first could earn but a precarious livelihood, and his eldest child spent much of her time with her grandmother. She was educated at various boarding schools, and at 16 returned to live with her parents at Oxford where her father had a history lectureship. He had returned to the Church of England about two years before, though he was to change his mind again some years later. His daughter continued to study, met many interesting men belonging to the university, and on 6 April 1872 was married to T. Humphrey Ward, a fellow and tutor of Brasenose College. For the next nine years she lived at Oxford. She had by now made herself familiar with French, German, Italian, Latin and Greek, and was also an excellent pianoforte player. She was developing an interest in social and educational service and making tentative efforts at literature. She added Spanish to her languages, and in 1877 undertook the writing of a large number of the lives of early Spanish ecclesiastics for the Dictionary of Christian Biography. It was a piece of hard conscientious work, and was admirably done. In 1881 her Milly and Olly, a children's story, was published, and three years later her first novel, Miss Bretherton, appeared. Her husband had joined the staff of The Times in 1881, and they removed to London in that year where Mrs Ward also contributed to the journals of the day. In 1888 she caused a sensation with the publication of Robert Elsmere, which turned much on questions of religious belief. It had an enormous circulation both in Great Britain and in the United States. In spite of this success it was four years before her next book, David Grieve, was published, which also had immense sales. For over 20 years after this Mrs Ward had a leading place among the English novelists of the day, and some 15 novels appeared at regular intervals during this period. During the 1914-18 war Mrs Ward wrote some volumes designed to help in the prosecution of the war, and England's Effort, which appeared in 1916, is considered to have had much effect on American feeling. Towards the Goal followed in June 1917. Her interesting book of reminiscences, A Writer's Recollections, appeared in October 1918, and her last novel, Harvest, in April 1920, a few days after her death on 24 March. Her husband survived her with a son and two daughters. Her son, Arnold Ward, after a brilliant career at Eton and Oxford, became Unionist M.P. for West Herts, 1910-18, her younger daughter, afterwards her biographer, married George Macaulay Trevelyan. A list of Mrs Ward's books will be found at the end of her biography.
Mrs Ward had a many-sided and charming personality. She was a fine scholar, a good novelist and a leading social worker. The great reputation of her novels has faded very much in the years since her death. Her characters do not always completely come alive, and she is lacking in humour, but possibly the fact that her books are based so often on the problems of her time, make them somewhat alien from the generations faced with the even more difficult problems that have arisen since.
Janet Penrose Trevelyan, The Life of Mrs Humphrey Ward; Mrs Humphrey Ward, A Writer's Recollections; The Times, 25 March, 1920; T. Arnold, Passages in a Wandering Life; Clifford Reeves, A History of Tasmanian Educacation, pp. 42-62.

Dictionary of Australian Biography by PERCIVAL SERLE. . 1949.

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  • Mary Augusta Arnold Ward — noun English writer of novels who was an active opponent of the women s suffrage movement (1851 1920) • Syn: ↑Ward, ↑Mrs. Humphrey Ward • Instance Hypernyms: ↑writer, ↑author …   Useful english dictionary

  • Mrs. Humphrey Ward — noun English writer of novels who was an active opponent of the women s suffrage movement (1851 1920) • Syn: ↑Ward, ↑Mary Augusta Arnold Ward • Instance Hypernyms: ↑writer, ↑author …   Useful english dictionary

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