English Novelist and Historian
By Patricia Chadwick
Charlotte Yonge has been a most prolific writer, having published over one hundred and twenty-five volumes of fiction and a large number of national histories for younger readers. Her work included schoolbooks, religious texts, historical novels, and tales of everyday life. She was an ardent supporter of high-church views, which is apparent in all her works. Although she wrote profusely, she always maintained high quality in all her work
While many authors achieve fame after their death, Charlotte achieved great success during her lifetime. During her lifetime she was very popular and her books were read and admired by other great authors such as Louisa May Alcott, Lord Tennyson, Lewis Carroll, and many others. She gained a wide circle of readers by her book ‘The Heir of Redclyffe’, which appeared in 1853. A large part of the early profits from this book were used to outfit the missionary schooner, ‘Southern Cross’ for Bishop Selwyn. She used the part of the profits from her book ‘Daisy Chain’ to help build a missionary college in New Zealand. She also wrote many works of fiction including, ‘Lances of Lynwood’, ‘Scenes from the Life of a Spinster’, and ‘Clever Woman of the Family’.
Charlotte’s historical works included Greece, Rome, France, Germany, England, and the United States. She also wrote such books as ‘History of Christian names and their Derivation’ and ‘Story of English Missionary Workers’. Several of her histories were rewritten so that they could be read and enjoyed by the small children, such as ‘Aunt Charlotte’s Roman History for the Little Ones’.
Since most of Yonge’s fiction work reflected everyday life during the Victorian era, we see in them the introduction of the education of women and their status in the community. Charlotte was homeschooled by her parents and remained a staunch supporter of educating women at home throughout her career. Even though there was a marked increase of women receiving a high school education and an increasing number of women’s colleges being founded, Charlotte always felt that the best education for young women was Home Education.
This article was an excerpt from HISTORY’S WOMEN – THE
UNSUNG HEROINES by Patricia Chadwick. You can purchase this
book for $15.95, which includes shipping, at