Mrs. Humphry Ward
1851 – 1920 A.D.
Mrs. Hymphry Ward, an English novelist, daughter of Thomas Arnold, and niece of Matthew Arnold, the poet, born in Hobart, Tasmania. Mary Augusta Arnold began her literary career at Oxford, and in 1872 was married to Thomas Humphry Ward, an English author and journalist.
In 1880 they settled in London, and Mrs. Ward contributed to several biographical introductions to her husband’s English Poets. Her story, Miss Bretherton, published in 1884 showed much promise, and in the following year she brought out her excellent translation of Amiel’s Journal. In 1888 she attracted the attention of the English-speaking world by her novel, Robert Elsmere, a suggestive presentation of widely discussed religious problems of the day, which achieved an immense vogue, and was translated into several languages. The book was an attempt to represent the struggle of a soul in its voyage towards newer theistic aspirations after losing the landmarks of the old faith. It started, as no academic work could have done, a popular discussion on historic and essential Christianity. Its phenomenal success was due to the fact that it was a genuine product of an age of spiritual unrest, when men were everywhere looking for a sign. Profound spiritual insight, broad human sympathy, and strong thinking are manifest throughout, but as a work of art it is marred by diffuseness, and lack of power to make the characters live rather than preach.
Late works of hers are The History of David Grieve, Marcella, Sir George Tressady, Lady Rose’s Daughter, The Marriage of William Ashe, and The case of Richard Maynell.
All of Mrs. Ward’s novels reveal a high conception of the art of fiction, a strong grasp of intellectual and social problems, and an intensity of moral purpose, so that her books have had considerable influence upon the social and ethical thought of England and the United States.
Her activities have not been entirely confined to literature. She was the originator in England of the Vacation Schools, which have done much to educate the poorest children of the community upon rational lines. She also took a leading part in the movement for opposing the grant of the parliamentary suffrage to women, whilst encouraging their active participation in the work of local government
Reference: Famous Women; An Outline of Feminine Achievement Through the Ages With Life Stories of Five Hundred Noted Women By Joseph Adelman. Copyright, 1926 by Ellis M. Lonow Company.