July 31, 2010

A Brief History of Children's Literature

The Odyssey of Homer
THE CLASSICAL PERIOD ~ 500 BC to 400 AD

All literature begins with storytelling. In fact, storytelling is an important part of every world culture. Long ago, people did not distinguish between adult and children's literature. Children heard the same stories as their parents ... tales of heroes as retold by Homer in The Iliad and The Odyssey and, of course, the tales gods, demons and talking animals. These are found all over the world.

Western civilization has its roots in the cultures of ancient Greece and Rome, which flourished between 500 BC and 400 AD. This was the Classical Period. Our culture is filled with references to Classical stories; we often speak of "Archilles' heel", the "Midas touch" and "Pandora's box". Planets, galazies and stars ... as well as track shoes and Tiger Woods' shirts ... all bear names of classical gods and heroes. There are part of our cultural heritage.

Arthur Drawing the Sword
From the Stone
THE MIDDLE AGES ~ 476 AD to 1453

After the Roman Empire fell in 476 AD, European civilization declined. The period between the fall of Rome and the Renaissance (in the 14th century) is called the Middle Ages because it fell between the Classical and Renaissance periods.

During the Middle Ages, the Roman Catholic Church was dominant and responsible for education. But education was a luxury and few people could read or write. Books were very expensive as they had to be copied by hand on expensive parchment. So, just as it was in the Classical period, storytelling was the primary entertainment for most people.

Biblical stories and stories about saints were most popular. The lives of saints were used to set examples for children. Secular stories were also popular. The romantic tale of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table likely thrilled many adults and children. The battle scenes, heroes and magic made it a popular story in the Middle Ages and it remains so today.

THE RENAISSANCE ~ 14th to 16th Centuries

A new era began in Europe around 1400. It was called the Renaissance because people saw it as a re-introduction of the ideals of ancient Greece and Rome, including their art, literature, philosophy and respect for learning.

During this time, Johannes Guttenberg invented the printing press. This was considered to be the greatest invention of the past 1,000 years. The printing press made it possible to make books in a fraction of the time it took to copy them by hand. Books became plentiful, opening the door to mass education. Most books for children were textbooks or other types of educational reading matter.

THE 18TH CENTURY

By the mid-1700s, the publishing of children's books began. A little Pretty Pocket-Book (1744) by John Newbery is one of the first children's books designed to entertain as well as teach. It is considered a landmark in children's literature. No copy of the first edition has been found.

An Illustration from Cinderella by Charles Perrault
Prior to the 19th century, children's books were intended to instruct ... usually morally. But about this time period, children's folktales from the oral tradition also became popular. Folktales were printed in England as early as 1729, when Charles Perrault's Tales of Mother Goose was translated from French to English. These retellings of old stories included "Cinderella", "Little Red Riding Hood" and "Sleeping Beauty in the Wood". These stories became staples for English children.

By the mid-18th century, Mme. de Beaumont retold many fairy tales, including "Beauty and the Beast". In 1791, Elizabeth Newberry published the first children's edition of Tales from the Arabian Nights, featuring "Sinbad the Sailor" and "Aladdin and His Lamp".

The Grimm brothers published many folktales at the beginning of the 19th century, although not expressly for children. The Grimms' tales are considered to be the most famous of all fairytale collections.

THE VICTORIAN ERA ~ 1837 to 1901
The Golden Age of Children's Literature

The Victorian Era was characterized by rapid change and development in nearly every sphere ... from advances in medical, scientific and technological knowledge to changes in popularion growth and location.

By the end of the 19th century, there was an emergence of talented writers with an interest in writing entertaining stories for children. This emergence is attributed to a number of social developments: A lower infant mortality rate; the technology to produce books inexpensively and in color; the rise in the status of women; mandatory education in the U.S. and England (thus creating a literate audience); and the growth of the middle class (thus broadening the audience).

In the second half of the 19th century, children's literature was dominated by adventure or boys' stories. The major British boys' story from that era is Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson. The most prominent writer of stories in America was Samuel Clemens (writing as Mark Twain), author of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876) and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884) ... the later considered one of the greatest American novels ever written.

America author Susan Warner (writing as Elizabeth Wetherell) wrote one of the early domestic novels, The Wide, Wide World (1850). But the most famous of all domestic novelists was Louisa May Alcott. Her Little Women (1868) is considered a masterpiece not only because of its strong characters but also for its entertainment value.

Fantasy was the gold of this age: First with Charles Dodgson's (writing as Lewis Carroll) Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1865) and then the much-loved Tale of Peter Rabbit (1901) by Beatrix Potter, who set a high standard for illustrated children's books.

Perhaps due to its puritanical routs, America during this period was not as fond of fantasy as the British. The exception, of course, is The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900) by L. Frank Baum.

THE EDWARDIAN ERA ~ 1901 to 1915

Conceptions of childhood underwent a cultural change in the Edwardian period, seeing the child become central to 'childhood' and childhood central to the Zeitgeist in a way that had not been seen previously and would not endure in the same way after the outbreak of World War I.

J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan (1904) was immensely popular during this period as was the most endearing animal fantash A Wind in the Willows (1908), by Kenneth Grahame.

Voyages of Doctor Dolittle
BETWEEN THE WARS ~ 1920 to 1940
Many notable fantasy figures of children's literature emerged during this period, most of them British. Hugh Lofting's The Story of Doctor Dolittle (1920) and A. A. Milne's Winnie-the-Pooh (1926) are two famous children's pieces from this period as well as P.L. Travers' Mary Poppins (1943). Tolkien's The Hobbit; or There and Back Again (1937) introduced children to Bilbo Baggins and his adventures.

The most famous American children's author during this period was Laura Ingalls Wilder whose Little House in the Big Woods (1932) was the first in her popular series of books about her own frontier family.

June 15, 2010

George Hughes

"But never fear. You tell the truth, keep a brave and kind heart, and never listen to or say anything you wouldn't have your mother and sister hear, and you'll never feel ashamed to come home or we to see you."


Thomas Hughes, son of John Hughes (an essayist and storyteller) and Margaret Elizabeth Wilkinson, was born in Uffington, Berkshire, in the Vale of the White Horse, on 22 Oct 1822. He had six brothers and one sister.

Thomas studied law and was called to the Bar in 1847. That same year, he married Frances “Fanny” Ford, daughter of Rev. Dr. James Ford and WHO. She was born abt. 1831 in Exeter, England and died 1910 in WHERE. They eventually settled at Wimbledon, where Thomas wrote his famous story Tom Brown’s Schooldays (1857), a semi-autobiographical work that brought him fame and a small fortune, much of which he later invested in the Rugby Colony. The story is set at Rugby School, a public school for boys, in the 1830s. Hughes had attended Rugby School from 1834-1843. The novel was originally published as being “by an Old Boy of Rugby” and is largely based on his brother, George Hughes.

Many other books followed, including Tom Brown at Oxford (1861); religious works such as A Layman’s Faith; a local color novel, The Scouring of the White Horse; several biographies of famous Victorian men; Rugby, Tennessee: Being Some Account of the Settlement Founded on the Cumberland Plateau (1881); Memoir of a Brother (also about George); and Early Memories for the Children (1899).

His sister, Jane Elizabeth Hughes Senior (shown here in a 1859 painting by George Frederic Watts), later became Britain’s first female civil servant and was co-founder of the Metropolital Assoc. for Befriending Young Servants. Her relief work with soldiers returning from the Franco-Prussian War led to the foundation of the National Society for Aid to Sick and Wounded in War in 1870, forerunner of the British Red Cross.

Due to his strong anti-slavery beliefs, Thomas Hughes was one of the few influential Englishmen to publically support the Union cause during the Civil War. He made his first visit to the U.S. in 1871 on a speaking tour which sought to “heal the breach” between England and America in the aftermath of the war. But the fullest flowering of Hughes’ idealistic principles was in the establishment of his Rugby, Tennessee colony.

Thomas Hughes died of heart failure in Brighton, England on 22 Mar 1896. 'All through his life he strove passionately and ardently for those things in which he believed, deterred neither by the prejudices of the class to which he belonged nor by the strength of the forces arrayed against him. And in the end persistence sometimes won what love and good-fellowship alone could not have accomplished. Were Tom alive today he would still know which way to head, and would be trudging straight down the road that leads there, perhaps drawing with him some of the faint of heart. It would be good to have him with us.' --Mack, Edward. C. & Armytage, W. H. G., 'Thomas Hughes', Ernest Benn Ltd, London, 1952.

Children of Thomas and Frances Hughes:

Maurice Hughes was born 1850 and died 1859.

Evie Hughes was born 1851 and died 1856. 

James “Pardner” Hughes was born 1853 and died 1914. James emigrated to the U.S. in the 1870s.

Caroline “Carrie” Hughes was born 1854 and died 1906.

John “Jack” Hughes was born 1856 and died 1897.

Mary “May” Hughes was born 29 Feb 1860 in Mayfair, England and died 2 Apr 1941 in Whitechapel, England. She became a poor law guardian and district counselor and this is where her social conscience was awakened.

She moved to Whitechapel, joining her sister Lilian and brother-in-law, Henry Carter, the vicar of St. Jude’s Commercial Road. There she became a parish volunteer, work that took her into slums, workhouses, doss houses and infirmaries (including those for people with venereal diseases). In 1917 Mary was made a Justice of the Peace for Shoreditch, specializing in rates and education cases. She was known to commonly cry at the evidence and pay fines for the poor.

In 1928 she took over a former public house, renaming it the Dew Drop Inn which was to act as a social center and refuse for the local homeless. Here she took in the destitute and lived amongst its transient inhabitants and frequently became lice-ridden. On account of this, it was once said of her that 'Her lice were her glory!' Gandhi asked to meet her when he visited Britain in 1931 and George Lansbury, himself a much-loved figure in the East End, said: 'Our frail humanity only produces a Mary Hughes once in a century.'

Arthur Hughes was born 1863.

George “Plump” Hughes was born 1865.

Lilian “Lily” Hughes was born 3 Mar 1867 in St. George’s Hanover Square, London, England. She married Earnest Courtenay Carter, son of George Compton and WHO, 1889 in WHERE. He was born 17 Feb 1858 in Compson, England.

Lilian, with her husband and their two dogs, perished in the sinking of the RMS Titanic on 14 Apr 1912; 2nd Class Passenger. Their bodies, if recovered, were never identified:

Their Obituary: Mrs. Ernest Courtenay Carter (Lilian Hughes), 44, daughter of the Tom Hughes (writer of "Tom Brown at Oxford") was married to Rev. Ernest Carter in 1890. They boarded the Titanic at Southampton. During the voyage Mrs. Carter befriended Marion Wright, and Kate Buss who would later name her daughter after Mrs Carter. According to newspaper reports of the period, Carter and his wife were given the opportunity to get into one of the lifeboats, but they refused saying, "Let the others go first" and Mrs. Carter resolutely refused to go with the women. "...they were a devoted couple and childless, and they died together."

June 14, 2010

Alice Pleasance Liddell

"But then, shall I never get any older than I am now? That'll be a comfort, one way -- never to be
an old woman -- but then -- always to have
lessons to learn!"


Henry George Liddell, son of Rev. Henry George Liddell and Charlotte Lyon, was born 6 Feb 1811 in Binchester, England and died 18 Jan 1898 in Ascott, England. He married Lorina Hanna Reeve, daughter of James Reeve and WHO, 2 Jul 1846 in Lowestoff, England. She was born 11 May 1823 in Lowestoff and died 25 Jun 1910 in WHERE.

Henry and Lorina settled in Westminster where he became headmaster of the Westminster School. In order to make their existence more pleasant, the Liddells organized musical parties and dramatic entertainment at Westminster School for the cultured and distinguished people of London, thus getting themselves known in the right circles. The fame of Westminster School rose under Henry's headship.

In 1856 Henry replaced Thomas Gaisford as dean of Christ Church. He had been a distinguished scholar there, gaining a double first in classics and mathematics, which resulted in his appointment as a tutor. He also held the post of sub-librarian jointly with Robert Scott. The two men compiled the monumental work, A Green-English Lexicon, which is still used by students of Greek.
The Liddell family met Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (pictured right) in 1855 when Dodgson first befriended their son Harry and later took Harry and his sister Ina on several boating trips and picnics to the scenic areas around Oxford. After Harry went off to school, his sisters Alice and Edith joined the party. Dodgson entertained the children by telling them fantastic stories to while away the time. He also used them as subjects for his hobby, photography.

On 4 Jul 1862, in a row boat travelling on The Isis from Folly Bridge, Oxford to Godstow for a picnic outing, Alice asked Dodgson (who wrote under the pen name Lewis Carroll) to entertain her and sisters Lorina and Edith with a story. Dodgson regaled them with fantastic stories of a girl named Alice and her adventures after she fell into a rabbit hole.

The story was not unlike those Dodgson had spun for them before, but this time Alice asked Dodgson to write it down for her. He agreed to her request, and immediately began a reconstruction of the impromptu tale, jotting down ideas while he still had the essence of the story in mind. Over a period of several months, the story was written out in his own neat hand, with gaps left for illustrations he added later. The sheets of the book, entitled Alice's Adventures Under Ground, were bound in green leather, and the finished manuscript was given to Alice Liddell as an early Christmas gift in 1864.

Although well disguised, the Liddell sisters appear in Alice's Adventures: Loring is the Lory in the "Pool of Tears" and Edith is the Eaglet. All three appear in the Dormouse's tale at the "Mad Tea-Party"; they are the three little sisters who lived at the bottom of a treacle well, named Elsie (L.C. or Lorina Charlotte), Lacie (anagram of Alice) and Tillie (short for Matilda, the children's pet name for Edith).

Friends of Dodgson, who had seen or heard the story, strongly advised him to publish it. So he rewrote it for publication, taking out references that identified the Liddells and Oxford, and adding new episodes such as the Mad Tea Party. It was first published in July 1865 with illustrations by John Tenniel, the famous Punch cartoonist. A second book about the character Alice, Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There, followed in 1871. A facsimile of Alice’s Adventures Under Ground, the original manuscript that Dodgson gave Alice, was published in 1886.

The extent to which Dodgson’s Alice may be identified with Alice Liddell is controversial. But there are at least three direct links to her in his two books: First, he set them on 4 May (Liddell's birthday) and 4 Nov (her “half-birthday). In Through the Looking Glass, the fictional Alice declares that her age is “seven and a half exactly”, the same age as Liddell's on that date. Second, he dedicated them “to Alice Pleasance Liddell”. Third, there is an acrostic poem at the end of Through the Looking Glass. Reading downward, taking the first letter of each line, spells out Liddell’s full name. The poem has no title in Through the Looking Glass, but is usually referred to by its first line, “A Boat Beneath a Sunny Sky.”

A boat beneath a sunny sky,
Lingering onward dreamily
In an evening of July –

Children three that nestle near,
Eager eye and willing ear,
Pleased a simple tale to hear –

Long has pales that sunny sky:
Echoes fade and memories die.
Autumn frosts have slain July.

Still she haunts me, phantomwise,
Alice moving under skies
Never seen by waking eyes.

Children yet, the tale to hear,
Eager eye and willing ear,
Lovingly shall nestle near.

In a Wonderland they lie,
Dreaming as the days go by,
Dreaming as the summers die:

Ever drifting down the stream –
Lingering in the golden gleam –
Life, what is it but a dream?

The relationship between Dodgson and the Liddells suffered a sudden break in Jun 1863. There was no record of why the rift occurred, since the Liddells never openly spoke of it, and the single page in Dodgson’s diary recording 27-29 Jun 1863 was missing. It has been long suspected that Mrs. Liddell disapproved of Dodgson’s interest in Alice, seeing him as an unfit companion for an 11-year-old girl.

Children of Henry and Lorina Liddell:

Edward Henry “Harry” Liddell was born 6 Sep 1847 in Westminster, England and died 14 Jun 1911. He married Minny Corry on 13 Jun 1876. She died 10 Oct 1905. He remarried to Ethel Sophie Gresham Leveson-Gower on 6 Feb 1907.

Lorina Charlotte “Ina” Liddell (pictured here with Alice) was born 11 May 1849 in Westminster and died 29 Oct 1942. She married William Baille Skene on 7 Feb 1874.

James Arthur Charles Liddell was born 28 Dec 1850 in Westminster and died in Westminster of Scarlet Fever on 27 Nov 1853.

Alice Pleasance Liddell was born 4 May 1852 in Westminster. She died 16 Nov 1934 in Westerham, England. Alice grew up primarily in the company of her sisters Lorena and Edith, with whom she later made a grand tour of Europe.

She married Reginald Gervis Hargreaves in Westminster Abbey on 15 Sep 1880. He was born 13 Oct 1852 in Hardington, England and died 15 Feb 1926. After their marriage, Reginald inherited a considerable fortune and Alice became a noted society hostess. They had three sons: Alan Knyveton Hargraves, Leopold Reginald “Rex” Hargreaves and Caryl Liddell Hargraves. Alan and Leopold were both killed in action in WWI.

After Reginald’s death, the cost of maintaining their home, “Cuffnells, was such that Alice found it necessary to sell her copy of Alice’s Adventures Under Ground. It became the possession of Eldridge R. Johnson and was displayed at Columbia University on the centennial of Carroll’s birth. Alice was present, aged 80, and it was on this visit to America that she met Peter Llewelyn Davies, one of the brothers who inspired J. M. Barrie’s Peter Pan.

Edith Mary Liddell (pictured left with Lorina and Alice) was born 1854 in Westminster and died 26 Jun 1876. Edith became engaged to Aubrey Harcourt of Nuneham and died, possibly of measles or peritonitis, shortly before they were to be married.

It has been said that Alice became a romantic interest of Prince Leopold, the youngest son of Queen Victoria, but the evidence is sparse. It’s true that Leopold’s first child was named “Alice” and that he acted as godfather to Alice’s son, Leopold Reginald Hargreaves. One of Leopold’s biographies suggests it’s more likely that Alice’s sister Edith was the true recipient of Leopold’s attention.

Rhoda Caroline Anne Liddell was born 1859 in Oxford, England and died 19 May 1949.

Albert Edward Arthur Liddell was born 1863 in Oxford and died 28 May 1863.

Violet Constance Liddell was born 10 Mar 1864 in Osford and died 9 Dec 1927.

Sir Frederick Francis Liddell (pictured left) was born 7 Jun 1865 in Oxford and died 19 Mar 1950. He married Mabel Alice Magniac on 23 Jul 1901. Mabel died 15 May 1959.

Lionel Charles Liddell was born 22 May 1868 in Oxford and died 21 Mar 1942. He married Florence Ella Magniac on 26 Apr 1902. Florence died 15 Feb 1942.


June 13, 2010

The Alcott Sisters

"Christmas won't be Christmas without any presents," grumbled Jo, lying on the rug.
"It's so dreadful to be poor,"
sighed Meg looking down at her old dress.
"I don't think it's so fair for some girls to have plenty of pretty things, and other girls nothing at all," added little Amy, with an injured sniff.
"We've got father, mother and each other,"
said Beth contentedly, from her corner.


Amos Bronson Alcott, son of John Chatfield Alcott and Anna Bronson, was born 29 Nov 1799 in Wolcott, CT and died 4 Mar 1888 at the family’s “Orchard House” in Concord, MA. He married Abigail “Abba” May, daughter of Joseph May and Dorothy Sewall, 23 May 1830 in Boston, MA.

Abigail, the beloved Marmee of Little Women, was born 8 Oct 1800 in Boston, MA. She was descended from the distinguished Quincy and Seawall families of New England: Her great aunt was Dorothy Quincy, the revolutionary belle who married John Hancock, the first governor of Massachusetts. Abigail devoted herself to her four daughters, encouraging them in their talents and giving them practical rules to live by: Rule yourself, love your neighbor, hope and keep busy. She died at the home of her daughter Anna, on 25 Nov 1877.

In 1834 the family moved to Boston where Amos established an experimental school and joined the Transcendental Club with friends Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau. He was well known for his controversial teaching methods which relied more on student involvement and a belief that children should enjoy learning.

"My father taught in the wise way which unfolds what lies in the child's nature, as a flower blooms, rather than crammed in, like a Strasbourg goose, with more than it could digest." --Louisa May Alcott

The Alcotts were staunch abolitionists, supporting complete racial equality. As part of the Underground Railroad, they risked their own freedom hiding fugitive slaves. Their acquaintances included the orator Frederick Douglass, William Lloyd Garrison, Mrs. John Brown (widow of the hanged leader of the raid on Harper’s Ferry, Julia Ward Howe (who wrote Battle Hymn of the Republic), and Rev. Theodore Parker.

Children of Amos and Abigail Alcott:

Anna Bronson Alcott was born 16 Mar 1831 in Germantown, PA. From an early age, Anna was stage-struck and longed to “shine before the world as a great actress.” After the family moved to Orchard House, she and Louisa helped form the Concord Dramatic Union.

Another member of the group was John Bridge Pratt. John and Anna fell in love while playing opposite each other in a play called The Loan of a Lover and married in the parlor of Orchard House on 23 May 1860. Anna is Meg in Little Women and the description of Meg’s wedding in the book is an actual description of Anna’s wedding. Of her wedding, Anna wrote:

"I was in a dream, the lovely day, the bright May sunshine streaking in upon the sweet flowers and loving faces, the influence of the kind hearts around me. All seemed so beautiful that although my heart beat fast and the tears came to my eyes. I did not feel like Annie. John looked like an angel, fair, innocent, with such loving eyes that I could not look at them but only held his hand and thought, 'He is my husband.'"

John died in 1870 leaving Anna with their two young sons, Frederick and John. With Louisa’s help in 1877, Anna purchased the Thoreau House (now called the Thoreau-Alcott House) on Main Street in Concord. Anna died there in July 1893 and was buried in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery.

Louisa May Alcott, the second daughter of Amos and Abigail, was born in Germantown, PA on 29 Nov 1832. Like her character Jo in Little Women, Louisa was a tomboy. "No boy could be my friend till I had beaten him in a race," she claimed, "and no girl if she refused to climb trees, leap fences…"

Her passion for writing began at an early passion and her stories often became melodramas that she and her sisters would act out for friends. Her career as an author began with poetry and short stories that appeared in popular magazines.

When she was 35 years old, her publisher asked her to write a book for girls: Little Women: or Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy (1868) was based on Louisa and her sisters’ coming of age and is set in Civil War New England. Jo March was the first American juvenile heroine to act from her own individuality; a living, breathing person rather than the idealized stereotype then prevalent in children’s fiction; Part two, or Part Second, also known as Good Wives (1869) followed the March sisters into adulthood and their respective marriages; Little Men (1871) detailed Jo’s life at the Plumfield School that she founded at the conclusion of part two; and Jo’s Boys (1886) completed the March family saga. Whereas Jo marries Professor Bhaer at the conclusion of Little Women, Louisa remained single throughout her life.

Louisa suffered chronic health problems in her later years and attributed her illness to mercury poisoning: During her Civil War service, she contracted typhoid fever and was treated with calomel, a compound containing mercury. But a recent analysis of her illness suggests that her health problems were associated with an autoimmune disease, not acute mercury exposure: A late portrait shows rashes on her cheeks that are characteristic of lupus. She died in her sleep in Roxbury, MA on 6 Mar 1888 … just two days after the death of her father and was buried on Authors Ridge of the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Concord, MA near her family and friends Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne and Henry David Thoreau.

Elizabeth Sewall Alcott was 24 Jun 1835 in Boston. Like Beth, her literary counterpart in Little Women, Lizzie caught scarlet fever from a poor family after whom her mother was caring. She recovered, but died two years later on 14 Mar 1858 of a wasting illness that was probably contracted in her weakened state.

"My dear Beth died at three in the morning after two years of patient pain," wrote Louisa. "Last week she put her work away, saying the needle was too heavy ... Saturday she slept, and at midnight became unconscious, quietly breathing her life away till three; then, with one last look of her beautiful eyes, she was gone."

Abigail May Alcott was born 26 Jul 1840 at the “Hosmer Cottage” in Concord. Like Amy in Little Women, she was a blue-eyed golden girl who possessed an intense love of beauty and all things artistic and elegant. Artistically gifted from an early age, May painted decorative figures and faces through the family’s home. It was Louisa’s success with Little Women (which May illustrated) that provided an opportunity for May to study art in Europe.

She married Ernest Niereker, a Swiss businessman and violinist, in 1878. The couple settled in Meudon, Paris, France where their daughter Louisa May "Lulu" was born 8 Nov 1879. Six weeks later, on Dec 29, May died of what was probably childbed fever. By her wish, Lulu was brought up by Louisa May. Louisa’s last story was a parable written about Lulu. The story is included in a modern book The Uncollected Works of Louisa May Alcott which is illustrated by May’s paintings and drawings.

June 12, 2010

The Henty Children

"Oh, that would be jolly," Charley said, "I know, I papa, having fights with Indians, and all that sort of thing. Oh, it would be glorious!"
"Well, Charley," his father said, smiling, "I do not know that we shall have fights with Indians, nor do think it would be very jolly if we did. But we should have to rough it, you know; you boys would have to work hard, to help me in everything, and to look after the cattle and sheep."


George Alfred Henty, son of stockbroker James Henty and Mary Bovill, was born 8 Dec 1832 at Trumpington, near Cambridge, England. With the outbreak of the Crimean War in 1854, Henty and his brother Frederick joined the British Army. In 1855 they were sent to the Crimea, where Frederick died the following year of cholera. During George’s service in Crimea, he was stricken with a fever and sent home.

The now-promoted Captain married Elizabeth “Lizzie” Finucane, daughter of WHO and WHO, on 1 Jul 1857 in WHERE. Elizabeth was born 1836 in Neland, Ireland. She died of tuberculosis 1865 in WHERE. Overcome with grief which would take years for him to recover from, he resigned his position as captain because it wasn’t sufficient to support his family and launched into a career as war correspondent for The Standard, a British newspaper.

He began his story telling career with his four children. After dinner, he would spend an hour or two in telling them a story that would continue the next day. Some stories took weeks. A friend was present one day and watched the spell-bound reaction of his children suggesting that he write down his stories so others could enjoy them. In 1871 he published Out on the Pampas using his children as characters in the book. After this he became quite well known and wrote about 88 books for boys plus stories for magazines. He was dubbed as “The Prince of Storytellers” and “The Boy’s Own Historian.”

In his later life, George took a trip to the gold fields of California, but it wore him out. He remarried on 21 Dec 1889 to Elizabeth Keylock, his devoted housekeeper who for many years had assisted in caring for his children. During his lifetime, he suffered numerous bouts of illness and died in Weymouth Harbour on 16 Nov 1902 while aboard his yacht “The Egret”. He was buried beside his wife “Lizzie” and their daughters at Brompton Cemetery, London.

Children of George & Elizabeth Henty:

Ethel Mary Henty was born abt. 1863 in WHERE. She died March 1882 in WHERE.

Charles Gerald Henty was born in 1859 in Clapham, England. He died WHEN in WHERE.

Hubert George Henty was born abt. 13 Apr 1860 in Wandsworth, England and died WHEN in WHERE.

Maud Elizabeth Henty was born abt. 19 Jun 1861 in St. James Norlands, Kensington, England. She died 1879 in WHERE.

June 11, 2010

The Woolsey Children

"Katy’s name was Katy Carr. She lived in the town of Burnet, which wasn’t a very big town, but was growing as fast as it knew how. The house she lived in stood on the edge of the town. It was a large square house, white, with green blinds, and had a porch in front, over which roses and clematis made a thick bower. Four tall locust trees shaded the gravel path which led to the front gate. On one side of the house was an orchard; on the other side were wood piles and barns, and an ice house. Behind was a kitchen garden sloping to the south; and behind that a pasture with a brook in it, and butternut trees, and four cows -- two red ones, a yellow one with sharp horns tipped with tin, and a dear little white one named Daisy. There were six of the Carr children -- four girls and two boys. Katy, the oldest, was twelve years old; little Phil, the youngest was four; and the rest fitted in between."


John Mumford Woolsey, son of William Walton Woolsey and Elizabeth Dwight, was born 10 Jan 1796 in Connecticut. He died 11 Jul 1870 in New Haven, CT. His family can be traced back to Jonathan Edwards; boasted two Yale presidents, Timothy Dwight and Theodore Dwight Woolsey; Judge John M. Woolsey, who is remembered for declaring James Joyce's Ulysses and Marie Stopes' Married Love was not obscene; and his daughter, Sarah Chauncey Woolsey, who was author of the What Katy Did children's novels.

John married Jane W. Andrews, daughter of John Andrews and WHO, 22 May 1832 in Cleveland, Cuyahoga, OH. Jane was born in 1804 in CT and died WHEN in WHERE. They married 22 May 1832 in Cleveland, OH. Their children were:

Sarah "Susan" Chauncey Woolsey was born 29 Jan 1835 in Cleveland, Cuyahoga, OH and died 9 Apr 1905 in Newport, RI. She grew up in an attractive home, surrounded by an atmosphere of modest wealth and leisure. Her vivid personality and many-sided interests endeared her to friends and relatives. She wrote easily, talked well, was fond of games of all sorts, sketched, painted and took an active part in the religious and social life about her. She was a notable addition to any group because of her stimulating wit, her wide knowledge of books, and her ability to share with others her abounding zest for living.

Sarah worked as a nurse during the American Civil War, after which she started to write. Although she had amused herself from childhood by writing little tales and poems, she published nothing until after the war, when she contributed to many of the best known periodicals in America from 1870-1900.

She edited many popular works of her time and authored three volumes of poetry: Verses (1880); A few More Verses (1889); and Last Verses (1906), printed after her death with a memoir by her sister. But she was best known as a popular writer of stories for young people that were lively in tone, sensible, wholesome and pleasingly moral.

Her first book for girls, The New-Year's Bargain, appeared in 1871, and from then until 1890 she produced a new volume almost yearly. Among the most popular was the What Katy Did Series (1872-1890), inspired by Sarah and her siblings.

Jane Andrews Woolsey was born 25 Oct 1836 in Cleveland, Cuyahoga, OH. She married Henry Albert Yardley.

Elizabeth Dwight Woolsey was born 26 Apr 1838 in Cleveland, Cuyahoga, OH and died 1910 in WHERE. She married Daniel Coit Gilman.

Theodorus Bailey Woolsey was born was born 5 Mar 1839 in Cleveland, Cuyahoga, OH. He died 20 Jun 1907 in NY.

Theodora Walton Woolsey was born 7 Sep 1840 in Cleveland, Cuyahoga, OH. She died 7 May 1910 in Newport, RI. Her obituary in the New York Times read: "Miss Theodora W. Woolsey dies in Newport, R.I. yesterday in her 69th year. She was the daughter of the late John M. and Jane Andrews Woolsey, and a niece of Theodore Dwight Woolsey, for many years President of Yale, and a cousin of Theodore Salisbury Woolsey, a long time Professor of International Law in Yale Law School."
William Walton Woolsey was born 18 Jul 1842 in Cleveland, Cuyahoga, OH. He died 28 Apr 1910 in Charleston, Charleston, SC. He married first to Catherine Buckingham Convers, daughter of Charles Cleveland Convers and Catherine Buckingham, on 1 Ju 1869 in New York City. Katherine was born 4 Oct 1844 in Zanesville, OH and died 2 Oct 1887 in Brooklyn, NY.

Their children were: Clara Constance (died in infancy), John Munro (1877-1945; Yale University), Convers Buckingham (1880-1951; Yale University), Catherine Buckingham and William Walton Jr. (1886-1964).

He married second to Elizabeth “Bessie” Gammel (1873--) abt. 1892. His marriage to Bessie gained his entry into Charleston aristocracy. Their daughter, Elizabeth Gammel Woolsey, was born 28 May 1897 in Breeze Hill Plantation, SC and died from breast cancer in 1968.

Writing under the name Gamel Woolsey, Elizabeth was one of the first American chroniclers of the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) and her account, Death's Other Kingdom (1939), is an unbiased, sensitive exploration of how war affects human behavior. She also wrote two novels, the autobiographic One Way of Love (not published until 1987) and the unpublished Patterns on the Sand. After her death in 1968, her poetry was collected and published by Kenneth Hopkins.

Before leaving Charleston for New York in the early 20s, Elizabeth suffered an attack of tuberculosis that would mark her life; the illness recurred during periods of emotional stress and prevented her from bringing much desired pregnancies to term. In New York she met and married Rex Hunter, a journalist; the marriage was not happy, and Woolsey used this experience for her largely autobiographical novel "One Way of Love". In 1928, when living in Greenwich Village, New York, she met Llewelyn Powys, husband of Alyse Gregory who was then editor of the Dial, and tried repeatedly to give him a child, even following him to the remote village of East Chaldon in Dorset, England in 1929. There, she was rescued from what had become an impossible amorous triangle by Gerald Brenan who, by the summer of 1930, had decided it was time to find a wife, and fell in love with Woolsey when he saw her gathering flints on the downs. He tells of this meeting, and of their married life in the second volume of his autobiography, Personal Record. The letters of Gamel Woolsey and Llewelyn Powys were published and show how both transformed their experience of love and loss into literature even as they were suffering the separation that resulted in Woolsey's decision to end the relationship.

Although Woolsey and Brenan could not marry because Woolsey had never obtained a divorce from Hunter, on 11 Apr 1931 they performed a private ceremony on the steps of the Church of Santa Maria d'Aracoeli in Rome (which they legalized on 25 Aug 1947). In 1934 the couple moved to Spain, to a rambling, old house they had bought in Churriana, a village on the outskirts of Malaga. There, they witnessed the first months of the Spanish Civil War. They were naively convinced that the British flag would shield them from both Franco's rebels and the Andalucian anarchist radicals, but lack of funds forced them to travel to Gibralter. They were cut off from Malaga by Franco's troops and forced to return to England, where they remained through World War II.
Theodora Woolsey was born in 1849 in Cleveland, Cuyahoga, OH and died WHEN in WHERE.

June 10, 2010

Dorothy Gale

"Oh, but anyway, Toto, we're home. Home!
And this is my room, and you're all here.
And I'm not gonna leave ever, ever again, because I love you all, and -- oh, Auntie Em -- there's no place like home!"

Thomas Clarkson Gage, son of Henry Hill Gage and Matilda Electa Joslyn, was born 18 Jul 1848 in Manilus, NY and died 10 Oct 1938 in Aberdeen, SD. He married Sophie Taylor Jewell, daughter of Francis S. Jewell and Eliza Alling Shipman, 1 Jun 1885 in Aberdeen. She was born 4 Feb 1855 in Rochester, NY and died 26 Dec 1945 in Aberdeen.

Matilda Electa was a suffragist, a Native American activist, an abolitionist, a freethinker and a prolific author who was born with a hatred of oppression. She was considered to be more radical than either Susan B. Anthony or Elizabeth Cady Stanton (with whom she wrote History of Woman Suffrage). There is a memorial stone at Fayetteville Cemetery that bears her slogan:

“There is a word sweeter than Mother, Home or Heaven. That word is Liberty.”

She had also been a serious student of the occult during the last decade of her life, and came to believe in reincarnation. Matilda explained to one of her grandchildren the year before her own death:

“There is one thing I want you to remember first of all: This is that what is called ‘death’ by people is not death. You are more alive than ever you were after what is called death. Death is only a journey, like going to another country. You are alive when you travel to Aberdeen just as much as when you stay in Edgeley (North Dakota), and it is the same with what is called death. After people have been gone for awhile, they come back and live in another body, in another family and have another name.”

When Matilda died, her daughter-in-law, Sophie Gage, was expecting a child. It would be the last of the Gage line, born to Matilda’s only son Clarkson. The baby was born in June 1898 and was given a popular name of the time, one that even her Uncle Frank Baum, a noted author, had previously used in Mother Goose in Prose. Sophie had already lost one baby seven years before, so everyone was worried. Sadly, the child lived for five months and died in November of congestion of the brain. Maud attended the funeral and was so distraught she had to have medical treatment. “Dorothy was a perfectly beautiful baby,” Maud wrote her sister Helen. “I could have taken her for my very own and loved her devotedly.”

Frank was just putting the finishing touches on the story Maud had been urging him to put to paper for a long time. As legend has it, the story evolved as Baum wove it for his children and their friends. It was a fairytale about a magical land and a little girl who wanted to go home. Seeing his wife so distraught after the funeral, and not knowing how to comfort her, he named the heroine after little Dorothy, forever immortalizing the child. When it came out in 1900, he dedicated it to “my good friend and comrade, My Wife.” And in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Frank gave Maud her Dorothy.

Matilda was twelve when her sister Dorothy died, and was inclined to believe that her uncle had come upon the name Dorothy simply because it was a popular girl’s name of the time. However, there is a clear pattern in Baum’s work of using his wife’s family’s names. Dorothy’s aunt and uncle may have been named for Maud’s parents: Matilda, who occasionally signed her work “M” (Em), and Henry. Matilda Joslyn Gage’s maiden name appears as the family name of The Master Key (1901); likewise Joslyn is the name of the little boy in The Yellow Ryl (1906), a short story published in A Child’s Garden (August and September 1925); and appears again as a family name in Mary Louise in the Country (1916), here spelled “Jocelyn.”

Children of Thomas and Sophie Gage:

Matilda Jewell Gage was born 22 Apr 1886 in Aberdeen. Unlike her sisters Dorothy and Alice, Matilda lived a long life, dying three months before her 100th birthday.

Alice Eliza Gage was born abt. 1891 and died that year.

Dorothy Louise Gage was born 11 Jun 1898 in Bloomington, IL and died that year on the 11th of November. For nearly 100 years, a story was handed down through generations of Baums about a niece named Dorothy who died and was immortalized in Frank’s book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. But it wasn’t until the fall of 1996, when Dr. Sally Roesch Wager, doing research on Matilda Electa Joslyn Gage, located her grave at Evergreen Memorial Cemetery in Bloomington, IL.

June 9, 2010

The Davies Boys

"Do you know," Peter asked, "why swallows build in the eaves of houses? It is to listen to the stories."


Arthur Llewelyn Davies, son of Rev. John Llewelyn Davies and WHO, was born 20 Feb 1863 in Marylebone, England. He married Sylvia J. du Maurier, daughter of illustrator/writer George L. P. B. du Maurier and Emma Buisson, in 1892. Sylvia was born abt. 1866 in Bloomsbury, England.

In 1897, their pre-school sons George and Jack became friends with J. M. Barrie, whom they met during outings in Kensington Gardens with their nurse and infant brother Peter. Arthur and Sylvia met Barrie and his wife Mary at a New Year's Eve dinner party that year, and Sylvia took up a close friendship with the writer as well.

Although Arthur did not encourage the ongoing friendship of his wife and sons with Barrie, and did not share their fondness for him, he did little to stand in the way of it. He permitted Barrie to spend considerable time at the Davies home, and for his family to visit with the Barries – who were childless – at their country cottage. During one of the holidays the families spent together, Barrie took a series of photographs of the boys' adventures, which he compiled into a photo book titled The Boy Castaways; Barrie gave one of the two copies printed to Arthur, who misplaced his copy on a train.

Barrie became an adopted "uncle" to the Davies children. When he spent time with the children he experienced "the finest dream in the world. That I am a boy again ..." He began to tell the boys stories featuring them in adventures. Peter, the youngest, became the focus of some stories, although to say he was Peter Pan would be unfair. There were elements of George in the character as well: It was George who once said, "To die must be an awfully big adventure," words that Barrie carefully noted in his pocket book. Barrie claimed all five boys were his inspiration.

In 1906, Arthur discovered a growth in his cheek which turned out to be a malignant sarcoma. He had two operations, which removed much of his upper jaw, palate and cheekbone, and the tear duct on that side. This left him disfigured and unable to talk, even with an artificial jaw insert. The surgery failed to remove all of the cancer and left him in considerable pain. Barrie, who had become rather wealthy from his books and plays, paid for Arthur’s medical care, and became a regular companion at his bedside, especially in his final months. During this time, Davies described Barrie in a letter to his son Peter as "a very good friend to all of us".

Arthur Llewelyn Davies died on 19 Apr 1907, and 'Uncle Jim' became even more involved with the Davies family, providing financial support to them. (His income from Peter Pan and other works was easily adequate to provide for their living expenses and education.) Following Sylvia's death in 1910, Barrie claimed that they had been engaged to be married. Her will indicated nothing to that effect, but specified her wish for 'J. M. B.' to be trustee and guardian to the boys, along with her mother Emma, her brother Guy Du Maurier and Arthur's brother Compton. It expressed her confidence in Barrie as the boys' caretaker and her wish for 'the boys to treat him (and their uncles) with absolute confidence and straightforwardness and to talk to him about everything.' When copying the will informally for Sylvia's family a few months later, Barrie inserted himself elsewhere: ‘Sylvia had written that she would like Mary Hodgson, the boys' nurse, to continue taking care of them, and for 'Jenny' (referring to Hodgson's sister) to come and help her.’ Barrie instead wrote 'Jimmy' (Sylvia's nickname for him). Barrie and Hodgson did not get along well, but they served as surrogate parents until the boys went to university and Jack was married.

Children of Arthur and Sylvia Davies:

George Llewelyn Davies was born 20 Jul 1893 in Paddington, England. The character of George Darling was named after him.

George and his brother John were the audience for the fantastic stories in which Barrie conceived of the character of Peter Pan and took part in play adventures with Barrie which provided much of the inspiration for the play Peter Pan, or the Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up. Shortly before writing the play, Barrie made a photo book titled The Boy Castaways, featuring the three oldest brothers pretending to be shipwrecked on an island and fighting pirates, themes that later appeared in the Peter Pan story.

He attended Eton College, where he excelled at sports and was elected to the elite social club Pop while still an underclassman. He later attended Trinity College where he joined the Amateur Dramatic Club, following in the footsteps of both his uncle, actor Gerald du Maurier, and his dramatist guardian.

Following the UK's entry into WWI, George and his brother Peter volunteered for service. George received a commission as a 2nd lieutenant in the King’s Royal Rifle Corps, and served in the trenches in Flanders, France where he died of a gunshot wound to the head 1915. As yet unmarried, George left no children.

John Llewelyn “Jack” Davies was born 11 Sep 1894 in Paddington, England. He died 17 Sep 1959, several months before his brother Peter committed suicide. The character of John Darling, the older of Wendy's brothers, was named after him.

In 1906 Davies was recommended by Barrie to Admiral Robert F. Scott for a position at Osborne Naval College. Following the death of his father, he reportedly harbored some resentment of Barrie, at times believing the writer was trying to take his father's place. He was not as close to the writer as were his brothers, especially George and Michael.

Just prior to his mother's death, he joined the Royal Navy and served in the North Atlantic during WWI.

He married Geraldine "Gerrie" Gibb in 1917, without first asking permission of Barrie, who only grudgingly approved of the relationship. Nonetheless, Barrie gave the couple charge of the Davies family house, where Michael and Nicholas still lived during school holidays. John and Geraldine had two children: Timothy (b. 1921), and Sylvia Jocelyn “Jane” (b. 1924).

Peter Llewelyn Davies was born 25 Feb 1897 in Paddington, England and named after the fictional character, Peter Ibbetson, the hero of George Du Maurier’s popular novel of 1891.

He was an infant when Barrie befriended his older brothers George and John during outings in Kensington Gardens. Barrie’s original description of Peter Pan in The Little White Bird (1902) was as a newborn who had escaped to Kensington Gardens. Barrie publicly identified Peter as the source of the name for the title character in his famous play, Peter Pan, or The Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up.

In 1917, while still in the military, Peter began to court Hungarian-born Vera Willoughby (a watercolor painter and illustrator) who was married and 27 years his senior. The affair continued through the end of his military career in 1919. In 1926 he founded a publishing house, Peter Davies Ltd, which in 1951 released his cousin Daphne du Maurier’s work about their grandfather, George Du Maurier.

On 10 Mar 1932, he married Margaret Leslie Hore-Ruthven, the daughter of Walter Patrick Hore-Ruthven and Jean Leslie Lampson. She was born abt. 1902 and died 20 Apr 1970. Their children: Ruthven Davies (b. 1933), George Davies (b. 1935) and Peter Davies (b. 1940).

Peter grew to dislike having his name associated with what he called “that terrible masterpiece”. This public identification as “the original Peter Pan” plagued him throughout his life, which ended in suicide on 5 Apr 1960: After lingering at the bar of the Royal Court Hotel, he walked to nearby Sloane Square and threw himself under a train as it was pulling into the station. At the time of his suicide, he had been editing family papers and letters, assembling them into a collection he called the Morgue. He had more or less reached the documents having to do with the suicide of his brother Michael. Other factors may have been ill health (he was suffering from emphysema) as well as the knowledge that his wife and all three sons had inherited the usually fatal Huntington’s disease.

Michael Llewelyn Davies was born 16 Jun 1900 in Paddington, England. He is widely reported as the individual who most influenced the portrayal of Peter Pan in the 1911 novel based on the play. Later in life, his only surviving brother Nicholas described him as 'the cleverest of us, the most original, the potential genius.’

Shortly before his 21st birthday he and his best friend, Rupert Buxton, drowned together in Sandford Pool, a body of water on the River Thames. The following obituary appeared for the pair: 'Two House men whose loss would have been more widely and more deeply mourned, it would be impossible to find. They were intimate friends, and in their death they were not divided. It is we who must learn to live without them.’

The closeness of Davies and Buxton, combined with the uncertain circumstances of their death, led to speculation that the pair had died in a suicide pact. The Sandford Pool was well known as a drowning hazard (there were warning signs, and a conspicuous memorial for previous victims) and the pair had gone swimming there before. The water was 20-30 feet deep, but calm. Buxton was a good swimmer, but Davies had a fear of water and could not swim effectively. A witness at the coroner's inquest reported that one man was swimming to join the other, who was sitting on a stone on the weir, but he experienced 'difficulties' and the other dived in to reach him. However, the witness also reported that when he saw their heads together in the water they did not appear to be struggling. Their bodies were recovered 'clasped' together the next day. The coroner's conclusion was that Davies had drowned accidentally, and that Buxton had drowned trying to save him. Some later accounts report that their hands were tied to each other's. However surviving contemporary accounts do not report this.

Brothers Peter and Nicolas each later acknowledged suicide as a likely explanation, as did Barrie. A year later, Peter wrote that Michael’s death 'was in a way the end of me.'

Nicholas Llewelyn “Nico” Davies was born 24 Nov 1903 in Paddington, England. He was only a year old when Peter Pan hit the stage in 1904, and as such was not a primary inspiration for the characters of Peter and the Lost Boys. He was eight years old when the novel adaptation, Peter and Wendy was published, and in later editions of the play, the character Michael Darling’s middle name was changed to "Nicholas".

In 1926 he married Mary James, daughter of WHO and WHO. Their daughter Laura was born in 1928. In 1935 he joined his brother's publishing firm, Peter Davies Ltd. As the last surviving subject of the 1978 BBC mini-series, The Lost Boys, he was a consultant to its writer. Nicholas died in 1980 in WHERE.

WHO INSPIRED WENDY?

Barrie introduced the character Wendy Darling in Peter Pan in 1904. It is well-known that J.M. Barrie's work was often inspired by the antics of children. Many important characters in his books are modeled after children of his friends and associates.

One such child was a little girl named Margaret Henley who adored Barrie and always called him "my friendy". However, because she couldn't pronounce her r's, the words came out "my fwendy". One variation of the tale says Margaret called Barrie "friendy-wendy" or in her pronunciation, "fwendy-wendy".

Little Margaret died at the age of six (abt. 1895). But Barrie used Margaret's invented name "Wendy" for a character who symbolizes mothering, caring, loyalty and undying friendship.

June 8, 2010

Alastair Grahame

"Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing,
absolutely nothing,
half so much worth doing as simply
messing about in boats."


Kenneth Grahame, son of James Cunningham Grahame and Elizabeth Johnstone Inglis, was born 8 Mar 1859 in Edinburgh, Scotland. His father was a lawyer from an old Scottish family and mother the daughter of John Ingles of Hilton, Lasswade. The family lived in the Western Highlands, near Loche Fyne.

Grahame's mother died of scarlet fever when he was five years of age. Due to his father's alcoholism, Grahame and his younger sister Helen went to live with his grandmother in the Berkshire village of Cookham Dene in southern England. Her house and its large garden by the River Thames provided the background for The Wind in the Willows.

While a young man, Grahame began to publish light stories in London periodicals such as the St. James Gazette. Some of those stories were collected and published as Pagan Papers (1893) and, two years later, The Golden Age which was said to be the favorite bedtime reading of Kaiser Wilhelm II. Its sequel, Dream Days (1898), contains Grahame's most famous short story, The Reluctant Dragon.

Grahame married Elspeth Thomson (a 36-year-old spinster), Jul 1899 in Fowey, Scotland. She was born abt. 1881 in Edinburgh, Scotland. They had one son, Alistair Grahame (nicknamed “Mouse”), who was born blind in one eye.

In the spring of 1907 Grahame sent his seven-year old son, the first of a series of letters telling the story of a group of animals and their various adventures along the river, in the woods and on the road. These letters, centering on the swaggering Mr. Toad, formed the first whisperings of what would become one of the best-loved children's stories of all time, The Wind in the Willows (1908). Despite its success, he never attempted a sequel.

Due to ill health, Grahame retired from his position as Secretary at the Bank of England in 1908. He died 6 Jul 1932 at Church Cottage in Pangbourne, England and was buried at Holywell Cemetery in Oxford. His cousin Anthony Hope, also a successful author, wrote his epitaph: "To the beautiful memory of Kenneth Grahame, husband of Elspeth and father of Alastair, who passed the river on the 6th of July, 1932, leaving childhood and literature through him the more blest for all time."

Alastair Grahame was born 18 May 1900 in WHERE. He died 7 May 1920 while a student at Oxford. The headstrong nature of young Alistair was transformed into the swaggering Mr. Toad, one of the four principal characters in The Wind in the Willows.

But Alastair’s real life story is a sad one. His parents were not happily married and neither of them was especially cut out for the role of parent. As a result, he spent much time away from them, in the care of a nanny, then a governess and then at Oxford where he often had trouble. While an undergraduate, two days before his 20th birthday, Alastair committed suicide by laying on train tracks. Out of respect for his father, Alastair’s death was recorded as accidental.

June 7, 2010

John Kipling

"Then hold This tide,
And every tide;
Because he was the son you bore,
And gave to that wind blowing and that tide!"


Joseph Rudyard Kipling, son of John Lockwood Kipling and Alice MacDonald, was born 30 Dec 1865 in Bombay, British India and died 18 Jan 1936. His father was a sculptor, pottery designer and principal and professor of architectural sculpture at the newly-founded Jamsetjee Jeejeebhoy School of Art and Industry in Bombay. One of four remarkable Victorian sisters, his mother was a vivacious woman about whom a future Viceroy of India would say, "Dullness and Mrs. Kipling cannot exist in the same room."

Rudyard married Caroline Star “Carrie” Balestier, the daughter of a prominent New England family, who was born 31 Dec 1862 in Rochester, NY. She was 27 when her brother Wolcott, a writer and publisher, introduced her to the 24-year-old Kipling who was already a celebrity in 1889. He was to become best known for his works of fiction and poems, including: The Man Who Would Be King (1888), Gunga Din (1890), The Jungle Book (1894), Kim (1901) and If (1910).

Although Carrie described herself as “plain” and notably lacked her brother’s charisma and easy grace, Kipling immediately proposed to her by telegram. The couple married in London on 16 Jan 1892 in the thick of an influenza epidemic. By year’s end, they were living in “Bliss Cottage” in Brattleboro, VT. It was here that the first dawnings of the Jungle Books came to him.

After Josie’s birth, the couple purchased land overlooking the Connecticut River in Dummerston, VT and built their own house which Kipling named “Naulakha”. But it wasn’t long before a family dispute resulted in the family leaving the U.S. for good. For some time, relations between Carrie and her brother Beatty had been strained on account of his drinking and insolvency. In May 1896, an inebriated Beatty ran into Kipling on the street and threatened him with physical harm. The incident led to Beatty’s eventual arrest, but in the subsequent hearing and resulting publicity, Kipling’s privacy was completely destroyed and left him feeling miserable and exhausted. In July 1896, a week before the hearing was to resume, the Kiplings hurriedly packed their belongings and left for England.

Children of Rudyard and Carrie Kipling:

Josephine “Josie” Kipling was born 29 Dec 1893 Brattleboro, VT. During a family visit to New York in 1899, Kipling, Josephine and Elsie fell ill. As both father and daughters’ illness advanced to pneumonia, Josephine was removed from the hotel where her father and sister were and accommodated in the home of family friend, Julie De Forest, where her condition rapidly worsened until she died 6 Mar 1899. Her father was not told of her passing for weeks due to fears the loss of his beloved “Josie” might cause a relapse. Friends and family claimed he was never the same after her death. Elsie’s memoir later stated, “There is no doubt that little Josephine had been his greatest joy during her short life. His life was never the same after her death; a light had gone out that could never be rekindled.”

Elsie Kipling was born 2 Feb 1896 in Dummerston, VT and died 27 May 1976 in Cambridge, England. In Oct 1924 she married Captain George Bambridge who had served in the Irish Guards, but was a British diplomatic attache’ in Madrid. The couple lived abroad for some years and had no children. In 1938 she purchased the 17th century derelict, Wimpole Hall in Cambridgeshire, and spent many years restoring the estate to its former glory.

Lieut. John “Jack” Kipling was born Aug 1897 in Torquay, England and died 27 Sep 1915 during the Battle of Loos in France. He was the inspiration for Kiplings poem, My Boy Jack, which eventually became the basis for the play by the same name, its subsequent television adaptation and the documentary Rudyard Kipling: A Remembrance Tale.

Jack was plagued with severe near sightedness and was deemed medically unfit for military service during WWI. He managed to secure a commission in the Irish Guards with the weight of his father’s influence behind him and, on his 18th birthday, was posted to France. Within 6 weeks, the Battle of Loos, part of a joint allied offensive on the Western Front, engaged 54 French and 13 British divisions. Eyewitnesses reported seeing Jack fall with a neck wound, but intense machine gun and shellfire made retrieval impossible. At the battle’s end he was reported wounded and missing and it wasn’t until 1919 that his death was finally accepted by his parents.

Jack's death was particularly harrowing and Kipling never recovered from his loss. Carrie remained by his side throughout his subsequent decline. After his death in 1936, she spent the remaining years of her life at “Bateman’s”, the Kipling estate in Burwash, East Sussex, which she bequeathed to the National Trust. She died in December 1939, on the eve of her 77th birthday.