Elizabeth Stuart Phelps

Author of Gates Ajar

1844 – 1911 A.D.

She was first of all fortunate in her parentage. Her father was Professor of Sacred Rhetoric in Andover Theological Seminary. Many who never knew him otherwise, have been helped by his little book, The Still Hour. Her mother was also an author of note.

Elizabeth was given another name at birth, but upon the death of Mrs. Phelps, the daughter took her mother’s name in full and by her writings has perpetuated the work and name of her noble mother.

When the child was four years of age, the family moved from Boston to Andover. Here she grew up in the midst of strong intellectual and spiritual influences. She received a thorough and liberal education which admirably fitted her for the life of an author.

But hers was not a cold and formal intellectuality. Her imagination was vivid and her heart warm. She kept in close touch with the great movements of the time and engaged in them. Her activity in lines of charity, temperance, and reform kept her heart warmly in sympathy with struggling humanity. The life of factory girls attracted her attention. She studied the conditions at first hand and sought to be of help in improving their lot. Her book A Silent Partner was written as a result of her observation and efforts.

After slavery was abolished she saw that the next great national and world-wide movement was to be for the betterment of woman’s condition. She believed in a larger, sweeter, purer womanhood and so wrote with a purpose.

Of her many books we mention a few: Up Hill, Avis, Gates Ajar (this book passed through twenty editions in one year), Hedged in, The Trotty Book, Old Maid’s Paradise, Beyond the Gates, Jack the Fisherman, Songs of the Silent World, A Singular Life.

Possessing thus a happy and well-balanced combination of thinking and working, her productions have had a healthy tone.

In 1888 Miss Phelps became the wife of Rev. Herbert D. Ward.


Reference: Woman: Her Position, Influence, and Achievement Throughout the Civilized World published by the King-Richardson Co. in 1903.