The Works of Mrs. Humphry Ward


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In they moved to London, where she wrote for the Pall Mall Gazette and other periodicals. Ward followed its success with more than 20 other novels, notably David Grieve , Sir George Tressady , and Helbeck of Bannisdale By the turn of the century she had become firmly established as a best-selling author. In she founded the Anti-Suffrage League. We welcome suggested improvements to any of our articles.

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Please note that our editors may make some formatting changes or correct spelling or grammatical errors, and may also contact you if any clarifications are needed. The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica. Learn More in these related Britannica articles: Christian Socialism , movement of the midth century that attempted to apply the social principles of Christianity to modern industrial life. The term was generally associated with the demands of Christian activists for a social program of political and economic action on behalf of all individuals, impoverished or wealthy, and the….

New Forms of Christian Education: An Address to the University Hall Guild. The Play-time of the Poor. Letters to my Neighbor on the Present Election. Towards the Goal with an Introduction by Theodore Roosevelt. Renan's Autobiography," Macmillan's Magazine 48 , pp. Renan's New Volume," Macmillan's Magazine 50 , pp. A Dialogue," The Nineteenth Century 25 , pp. Published as Echoes of the 'eighties: The Case for the Factory Acts , Ed. Henry Holt and Company.

Eminent Victorian, Pre-eminent Edwardian.

Mary Augusta Ward

Thomas Arnold and his Family. The North American Review. Australian Dictionary of Biography. Retrieved 1 March An Illustrated Literary Guide to Shropshire. Retrieved 26 August Mrs Humphry Ward's Robert Elsmere. Essays on Modern Novelists. The American Catholic Quarterly Review. Victorian Faith in Crisis: Humphry Ward's Anti-Suffrage Campaign: From Polemics to Art".

Administrative / Biographical History

The Women's Victory - and After: The London Gazette Supplement. Memories of Victorian London. Echoes of the 'eighties: Oscar Wilde In America:: Humphry Mary Augusta ". Shelburne Essays, 11th series. A Reply to Lady Lovat and Mrs. The Nineteenth Century and After. Beetz, Kirk H Humphry Ward A Bibliography". In she met Henry James, who became her mentor. Indeed her first novel, Miss Bretherton , , shows his influence.

Scope and Content

In a review in Macmillan's , , she explained her religious interest in the work: It is the story of a Church of England rector who loses his faith in the miraculous events in the Gospels and feels morally obliged to resign his rectorship, to the dismay of his devout wife.

Before doing so he seeks the advice of Henry Grey, a fellow of St Anselm's Balliol , whose teaching had been inspirational for him, though until then he had not been able to follow him in his complete abandonment of Christian orthodoxy. Grey is a portrait of the idealist Oxford philosopher Thomas Hill Green , whom Mary knew and whose lectures she had attended. Green was the founder of a powerful form of philosophical idealism which sought to rescue a spiritual view of life from all threats from science while relegating everything supernatural in the Gospels to the status of a "beautiful fairy story".

Mrs Ward's religious position seems to have remained essentially Green's. Moving from his country living to a poor part of London Elsmere encounters a Unitarian minister, Murray Edwardes, who had broken out of the confines of Unitarianism and was delivering lectures to working men expounding a simple ethical creed. Elsmere has no thought of becoming a Unitarian himself. He has been long convinced that 'in the beliefs of a Channing no one once fairly started on the critical road could rationally stop.

Edwardes tells him of an educational club for working men, which Elsmere joins and in which he soon becomes the leading figure. Elsmere starts giving regular Sunday afternoon lectures there, describing what the life and teaching of Jesus should mean 'to us today' when stripped of miracles and legends. He preaches a new religion: Eventually he founds an organization called 'The Brotherhood of Christ', committed to the ideals of Jesus and to the God of Green's idealist philosophy.

Its purpose was to bring working class men and women to a religion which could raise their lives above their current moral and cultural level. The novel soon created a sensation. Widely hailed as the book of the decade, it had numerous reviews, ranging from the enthusiastic to the totally condemnatory, and was harangued against in many a sermon.

Pirated editions of it were bestsellers in America and Canada. Its most prestigious reviewer was Gladstone, who was both enthralled and horrified by it. Nonetheless he was appalled at its basic message, in which he saw the ruin of Christianity, that the Gospel narratives were mere myth and he arranged two long and passionate conversations with her about it.


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  • Mrs Ward became an immensely popular writer. She wrote 25 novels, concerned largely with religious, political, and social issues. The novel which followed Robert Elsmere , The History of David Grieve , , is the story of how a young man from a poor farming family becomes a learned bookseller who, after a life full of tribulations, moves from total religious scepticism to a philosophy of life and religion remarkably like that of Thomas Hill Green. In Helbeck of Bannisdale , , Mrs Ward narrates the disastrous, and eventually tragic, engagement of an almost fanatical Catholic man with a woman who had been brought up as an agnostic.

    While trying to sympathise with each, Mrs Ward emphasised the increasing distress of the woman at what she finds bizarre and unhealthy in Catholicism. Ward's concern with Catholicism, and with problems of religious faith in general, grew largely out of her father's chequered religious history. Indeed she consulted him on points of Catholic practice in writing this novel and toned down some things likely to offend him.

    Many of Mrs Ward's novels compare well with those of the Victorian Greats. Besides those already described, Eleanor , , stands out as a moving tragedy, while the two "political" novels, Marcella , , and Sir George Tressady , give expression to her reforming conservatism.

    Unusual for its treatment of country people of the peasant class, and one of the best things she wrote, is the novella The Story of Bessie Costrell , There is nevertheless a decided decline in her later novels, written hastily to earn money to support the improvidence of her son and, to a lesser extent, husband the former for his gambling debts, the latter for his unwise trading in paintings. Her novels were written with great physical effort.

    "The call" by Jessie Pope Poem animation WW1

    Mrs Ward suffered from rheumatism, insomnia, eczema, gallstones, and chronic pain. Because of writer's cramp and her other maladies, the writing of her later novels was so physically painful that it is amazing how many she managed to produce. Although in effect, a traditional Unitarian in her beliefs, Mrs Ward never joined the denomination and indeed had a somewhat negative, or at least ambivalent, attitude towards it.

    For a time, until its closure in , she attended the credally unitarian but Anglican-style services of the former Anglican minister Stopford Brooke at Bedford Chapel. In Mrs Ward stirred up controversy with Unitarians when she wrote to the Manchester Guardian criticizing the services at Manchester College, Oxford as barren relics of old Puritanism. However, she gave a number of lectures at Unitarian-sponsored events: She strove to be controversial, especially in her religious lectures.

    Of her audiences she said, "I want to poke them up. In her opinion, the position of Unitarianism as a denomination in Britain was discouraging. Although it was closer 'in point of cultivation and learning' to the established church than any other dissenting denomination, it had not become part of the fabric of national life.

    The Works of Mrs. Humphry Ward The Works of Mrs. Humphry Ward
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    The Works of Mrs. Humphry Ward The Works of Mrs. Humphry Ward
    The Works of Mrs. Humphry Ward The Works of Mrs. Humphry Ward
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