We would like to share some of Dacorum’s influential women authors for International Women’s Day.
Mrs Humphry Ward
Ward was born Mary Augusta Arnold in Hobart, Tasmania, but spent her school years boarding in England. Her literary career began after she published children’s book, Milly and Olly in 1881. From then on her work gained popularity, and her theological novel Robert Elmore, published in 1888 was a great success. Ward often made references to the local straw plait industry and other local events in her novels.
In 1892, she moved to Stocks House near Aldbury with her husband Thomas Humphry Ward. From this base she worked to improve the lives of others and was involved in the opening of the first school for disabled children in London.
Edgeworth was born in Black Bourton in Oxfordshire, before moving to Edgeworthstown in Ireland in 1782. She spent her school holidays at The Limes (now known as Edgeworth House) in Northchurch.
Edgeworth wrote many commercially successful novels for both adults and children. After the 2nd series of ‘Tales of Fashionable Life’ was published in 1812, she was considered alongside Jane Austen as a prominent woman writer in England. The subject of Edgeworth’s works was often to educate the reader, with morals and social etiquette woven into her narratives.
Born in Clacton-on- Sea, Essex and raised in Amersham, Buckinghamshire, Worth moved to Boxmoor later in life. She trained as a nurse at the Royal Berkshire Hospital, Reading before moving to London to continue her training as a midwife. She worked in several London hospitals before retiring from nursing in 1973 to pursue her interest in music.
Worth began her writing career with Call the Midwife, based on the early part of her career as a midwife, which was published in 2002. Also published, on a medical subject , is Eczema and Food Allergy “The Hidden Cause”. Worth’s Midwife series has been adapted by the BBC into a popular drama series.
After World War 1, Quennell wrote a series of illustrated history books, for children, with her architect husband Charles Henry Bourne Quennell. Over time the books covered historical topics from Prehistoric to modern times and even the problems of future generations were included. Quennell created a majority of the illustrations for her books and painted in oil and watercolours, while favouring architectural subjects.
After her husband passed away in 1935, Quennell was appointed curator of the Geffrye Museum, London. During her time there she installed the ‘period rooms’ displays, which the museum is still based on.
Downie was best known as contemporary poet, although she was also a keen artist and appreciated music. She was born in London and educated in England and Australia. Her first collection, A Stranger Here, won an Arts Council Prize in 1977 and her second, Plainsong (1981), was also critically acclaimed. She often printed her works through local presses, including Priapus, based in Berkhamsted.
In 1967 Downie moved to Berkhamsted with her husband David Turner and lived there until her passing in 1993.