Amazing articles on just about every subject...

The Study Of Literature
English Literature Of The 19th Century:
 James Matthew Barrie

 Ian Maclaren

 Mrs. Humphry Ward

 George Du Maurier

 Rudyard Kipling

 Read More Articles About: English Literature Of The 19th Century

Mrs. Humphry Ward

( Originally Published Early 1900's )

No novel of recent years has excited wider discussion than "Robert Elsmere" (1888). Mr. Gladstone honored it with a long article in the "Contemporary Review," and at once it secured an enormous sale. It boldly presented an existing phase of the moral and intellectual world, portraying the gradual loss of faith in a cultivated religious mind through the sceptical tendency of the times. The novel thus became the vehicle of fundamental religious controversy. This startling innovation was made by Mrs. Humphry Ward, a granddaughter of. Dr. Arnold, of Rugby. Her maiden name was Mary Arnold. Her father, Thomas Arnold, had become a Roman Catholic, and after doing considerable literary work in England, had gone to Tasmania to teach. Mary was born at Hobart Town in that island in 1851. The family after-wards removed to Oxford, England, and Mary was thoroughly educated. She was married to Humphry Ward, editor of various works. Her scholarship was shown in reviews and translations, including "Amiel's Journal." Her first novel, "Miss Bretherton" (1884), told the growth of love between a young actress and a middle-aged man of letters. "Robert Elsmere," depicting a tragedy of the soul, was the next. It was criticized as being too didactic, but its vitality was seen in other characters as well as the central figure. "The History of David Grieve" (1892) is a contrast as well as a companion to its predecessor. It showed the growth of faith in persons of humbler class than Elsmere, but brought them through severe straits. The earnest David, who had spent his boy-hood with his more spirited sister Louie, in a quiet nook of England, is transported to the bustling streets of Lon-don and the gay scenes of Paris before his moral development is completed.

Mrs. Ward turned next to the training of a noble woman, and did it through social and political rather than religious influences. In "Marcella" (1894), a crudely romantic English girl becomes finally a worthy leader of society. The English world, London and Parliament, the rich and the poor, politics and socialism, are all described with minute fidelity. In "Sir George Tressady" (1896) Marcella appears again as Lady Maxwell and passes unscathed through a perilous temptation. Tressady, married hastily to a pretty wife, finds her unfit intellectually for his companionship. In a later novel, "Helbeck of Bannisdale" (1898), Mrs. Ward took up again the subject of religion. Helbeck is a Catholic bachelor, who, in his zeal for the faith, is consuming his estate to build chapels. To his house comes an invalid relative, whose daughter Laura has been trained by an agnostic father. They fall in love with each other, and Laura strives to overcome her repugnance to her lover's religious zeal, but fails and drowns herself. Though the characters are finely portrayed, they become to the thoughtful reader mere pawns in the great game between Roman Catholicism and Agnosticism.

Home | More Articles | Email: