History's Women: Misc. Articles: Mrs. Humphry Ward, English NovelistMrs. Humphry Ward
English Novelist
1851 – 1920 A.D.

Mrs. Ward is of the illustrious family of Arnolds, Dr. Thomas Arnold of Rugby being her grandfather. He had two sons, Matthew and Thomas. Mrs. Ward is daughter of the last named. After his studies were completed at Oxford, he became inspector of schools for Tasmania (island south of Australia). There he married Miss Julia Lovell, and Mary Augusta was born to them.

Mr. Arnold became a Catholic, and returning to Great Britain was appointed professor in the University of Dublin.

Miss Arnold married Mrs. Humphry Ward.

Her earliest work was Milly and Olly, or a Holiday Among the Mountains. Next came Miss Bretherton, the heroine of which is said to be represent Mary Anderson, “a study of the extent to which ignorance may smother even the true dramatic genius, and of the power of that genius, when aroused, to break through the enveloping and suffocating medium.

Other productions are, Robert Elsmere, The History of David Grieve, Marcella, Sir George Tressady, Helbeck of Bannisdale, and Eleanor.

Robert Elsmere produced a great stir in the reading world. Within a few months it passed through several editions in England, and half a million copies were sold in America in less than three years. It was also translated into German, Dutch, and Danish. The burning questions as between the old faith and the new faith or not faith at all, are handled without hesitation. Mrs. Ward is a keen critic. She has a wealth of diction and of thought. The book took hold of not mere novel readers but of deep thinkers of the time. One English writer said of the book, “It is hard reading and requires toil and effort. Yet if it be difficult to persist, it is impossible to stop.”

Mrs. Ward, in 1890, became identified with a scheme known as “University Hall,” London. Here are given lectures in the interest of modern theism and the liberal views of the Bible. Coupled with this there is carried on a work for the poor.


Reference: Woman: Her Position, Influence and Achievement Throughout the Civilized World. Designed and Arranged by William C. King. Published in 1900 by The King-Richardson Co. Copyright 1903 The King-Richardson Co.

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