Mary Augusta Ward Biography


Who is Mary Augusta Ward? Information on Mary Augusta Ward (Humphry Ward) biography, life story, works and novels.

Humphry WardMary Augusta Ward; (Humphry Ward) English novelist and social worker: b. Hobart, Tasmania, Australia, June 11, 1851; d. London, England, March 24, 1920. The granddaughter of Dr. Thomas Arnold of Rugby, and a niece of Matthew Arnold, she was married in 1872 to Thomas Humphry Ward (1845-1926), an editor. Her father, Thomas (1823-1900), a colonial school administrator, returned to England in 1856 after becoming a Roman Catholic (he later served as professor of English literature at a new Catholic university in Dublin), and Mary was raised and educated in England. From 1865 until removing to London in 1880, she lived at Oxford, and her long residence there undoubtedly inclined her toward the ethical concerns which permeated her writing.

Mrs. Ward published a children’s story, Millie and Olly, in 1881, but her first important literary work was a worthy translation (1884) of Henri Frederic Amiel’s Journal Intime. In 1888 appeared the book which brought her immediate and worldwide fame. The novel Robert Elsmere, which enjoyed an immense sale and was translated into several languages, expressed her strongly held conviction that Christianity eould best be served by minimizing its mystical qualities and striving toward fulfillment of the gospel’s social ideas. Among her many novels which skillfully delineated social personalities were: The History of David Grieve (1892), Marcella (1894), Sir George Tressaday (1896), Helbeck of Bannisdale (1898), Eleanor (1900), Lady Rose’s Daughter (1903), The Marriage of William Ashe (1905), Fenwich’s Career (1906), The Testing of Diana Mallory (1908), and The Case of Richard Meynell (1911).

Mrs. Ward is well remembered also for her outstanding achievements as a social worker. In 1890 she founded a settlement house in a poor district of London, and from this effort grew the famous Passmore Edwards Settlement. Here Mrs. Ward expended great amounts of energy and thought; among her signifîcant contributions was the introduetion of “children’s play hours,” a movement which became an integral part of London recreational center programs. A Writer’s Recollections (1918) contains autobiographical material; and her daughter, Janet Penrose Trevelyan, published The Life of Mrs. Humphry Ward in 1923.


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