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Hawtin: Displaying a Collection: A Room of Their Own

5 different areas in a collection.


In 1929 Virginia Woolf's essay A Room of One's Own was published. It describes Woolf's belief that "a woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction" (p.4). Woolf is writing at a time when women were still almost entirely excluded from serious academic education and had only 10 years earlier acquired the vote. Woolf notes that women have been kept from writing because of their poverty, and financial freedom will bring women the freedom to write; "In the first place, to have a room of her own... was out of the question, unless her parents were exceptionally rich or very noble" (p.6). Despite this being written nearly 100 years ago Woolf's ideas still hold true as evidenced by this article by Brit Marling in 2017.

About the Women

Juliana Horatia Ewing (1841-1885) was despite her relatively short life a prolific writer of children's stories whose works sold over 100,000 copies in the last three decades of the 19th century. Her mother was a children's author and a writer on marine biology, and her husband, Major Alexander Ewing, was also interested in literature. Her first stories appeared in Charlotte Yonge's journal Monthly Packet, and in book form in 1862 (Melchior's Dream and Other Tales). She wrote 18 different volumes for Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge.

Jackanapes was first published in a journal Ewing edited, Aunt Judy's Magazine, in 1879. During the mid-1880s Jackanapes was published as one of the 18 volume set with 17 illustrations by Randoph Caldecott costing one shilling and in 1927 by Bell & Sons although this edition had no illustrations. The title is taken from King Henry V Act V Scene 2:

If I might buffet for my love, or bound my horse for her favours,

I could lay on like a butcher, and sit like a Jackanapes, never off!

Jackanapes is the son of a Waterloo cavalry officer who is brought up by his spinster aunt and eventually dies saving the life of his childhood friend on the field of battle. The back cover to Juliana Horatio Ewing and Her Books contains a revew of Jackanapes from 3 November 1883: "Among all the illustrated books we are disposed to place first one ofthe smallest. Jackanapes is, in spite of its title, a somewhat tragical story of soldier life, written by Mrs Ewing and illustrated by Mr Randolph Caldecott. It is hardly necessary to say that the result of such collaborating is simply charming. The grey goose, and the officer in his old-fashioned uniform and Jackanapes telling his grandfather how he had laid out two shillings at the fiar, and howe he had since saved twopence towards the £15 requisite for the purchase of a pony - we should have to tell the story and enumerate all the cuts to give an idea of this delightful little book."

Other examples of Ewing's books within the Hawtin collection are:

Sarah Grand (1854-1953) is the pseudonym of Frances McFall. Grand was born in Co Down and educated at home until the age of 14. She then had two years of formal school and in 1870 married David McFall. In 1891 she left McFall and her son to pursue a writing career in London. It was the success of her first novel Ideala which gave her the courage to consider she might be able to live financially by her writing alone. She used her writing to discuss matters which she felt pertinent to the well-being and advancement of women. In her best-known novel The Heavenly Twins (1893), she condemns the sexual double standard, argues for more opportunities and independence for women, and criticises gender-role socialization. Within its first year it was reprinted six times and sold 20,000 copies by its second year in print. It was the first of the 'new woman' novels which depicted  women's growing dissatisfaction with the restrictions of Victorian society. The Beth Book is Grand's autobiographical novel which offers a portrait of the artist as a young woman.  

Olive Schreiner (1855-1920) was a South African writer and critic of British Imperialism. She lived in South Africa until 1881 when she left for England. Until this point Schreiner had received no formal education but had wished to become a doctor. In addition as her parents had been missionaries, and later her father was expelled from the post, she had not sufficient funds to pay for the requisite medical training. Upon arrival in England to complete nursing training she realised her ill-health would not allow her to continue her training and studying. She is best known for The Story of an African Farm published under the pseudonym Ralph Iron.  Dreams was first published in 1890 and contains parables for living and excerpts from The Story of an African Farm

Florence Farr (1860-1917) was an actress, author and friend of Aubrey Beardsley and WB Yeats. The Dancing Faun (1894) contains a design by Aubrey Beardsley on the front cover and title page. Beardsley's design presents a faun of indeterminate gender placed in the light of a stylised modern lamp-shade. The novel is in part based on her relationship with George Bernard Shaw between 1900-1905 although Farr writes in a prefatory note "Owing to circumstances which have arisen since this story was written in the summer of 1893 it seems necessary to state that it is purely a work of the imagination, and that none of the characters or events are taken from real life." To the rear of the volume are a selection of books in 'Belles Lettres' and 'The Hobby Horse' published by Elkin Mathews and John Lane, dated March 1894.

Dorothy Richardson (1873-1957) was a British author and journalist. She left home first at 1891 as a result of family financial troubles, moved to Bloomsbury in 1896 where she became associated with the Bloomsbury Group. Pointed Roofs is the first 'chapter' (Richardson's term) in the 13 'Pilgrimage' sequence and it was published in 1915. Pointed Roofs is modelled loosely on Charlotte Brontë’s Villette and the entire 'Pilgrimage' sequence is a semi-autobiographical sequence of Richardson's own life.  At the end of the Pointed Roofs it's noted that a further chapter Backwater is in preparation. A slip of paper has been inserted at the title page noting "It has been necessary to transpose the wording of the title of this book owing to the fact that part of it has been found to be already in existence as the title of a novel." In Pointed Roofs and Backwater the main character, Miriam Henderson, takes a 'pilgrimage' from her home in the English countryside to a boarding school in Germany and then a school in North London. May Sinclair notes in The Egoist that Pointed Roofs is the first use of stream of consciousness as a narrative technique (p.58). 

May Sinclair (1863-1946) was a British author and suffragist. Her father died in 1881 and between 1887-1896 four of her brothers died from heart failure. Her mother died in 1901 and by 1905 she had taken on the care of two of her brothers' children. Her fiction is noted for its treatment of women. Sinclair was also a noted critic, reviewing works as with Dorothy Sinclair and contributing poetry in The Egoist. Her experiences in World War I are marked in The Romantic (1920) whereas A Cure of Souls (1924) is a satirical work. 

Claire Spencer (1895-1987) was a Scottish author who from 1918 was based in the US. Little is known of her life beyond her marriages firstly to Harrison Smith who would later publish Gallows' Orchard and secondly to John Evans, son of Mabel Dodge Luhan a well-known patron of the arts. Spencer's novel Gallows' Orchard (1930) which is set in Scotland had two distinctive covers: the US edition with an Art Deco dust-jacket and the British edition with a design by Lapthorn. 

Sylvia Townsend Warner (1893-1978) had no formal education past kindergarten age but was tutored by various masters at Harrow where her father worked as a history master. In her early career she worked as a musicologist but this side of her career was gradually eclipsed by her writing successes. Opus 7 (1931) was published by Chatto & Windus as part of its Dolphin Series. This series were a well-designed but short-lived Chatto & Windus series of shorter works (maximum of 17,000 words).  Jackets were common to the series and consist of a stylised dolphin and with a seaweed pattern. Titles within the series are available on the back cover and Opus 7 is #7 on the list. The book cost 2 shillings in 1931.An elaborately printed binding (on boards) replicates some of the design elements of the jacket and the series name is included on the front board. Opus 7 is a book-length pastoral poem about an Rebecca Random, an elderly flower-seller. Opus 7 contains striking metaphors about the aftermath of village life after World War I.

Eleanor 'Norah' Hoult (1894-1984) was born in Dublin but as her parents died in her early childhood she was educated in a series of English boarding schools. In the 1920s she lived in London and visited her mother's family in Dublin. From 1929-1933 she was married to the English writer Oliver Stoner. In 1933 she returned to live in Ireland and became a literary reviewer for Time and Tide as well as the New Statesman and wrote for the Dublin Magazine. Holy Ireland (1935) is set in Ireland as is its sequel Coming to the Fair (1937). From 1937-1939 she lived in New York, Boston and New Mexico and she returned to London in 1939, living there until 1957 when she moved to Co. Wicklow. 

The American edition of Holy Ireland, held in Nancy McCarthy's collection, contains an inscription from Norah Hoult to Nancy McCarthy on the front endleaves and a letter from Norah to Nancy about Nancy's response to Holy Island. Norah also discusses Elizabeth Connor's novel Mont Prospect [sic] though it is not yet published but Hoult believes Customs have censored it in advance. Una Troy used the pen name of 'Elizabeth Connor' for Mount Prospect and Dead Star's Light, her first two novels. Hoult also mentions O'Donovan (probably Michael O'Donovan, better known as Frank O'Connor) and Sean O'Faolain.

The second copy of Holy Ireland, held in Jack Lynch's collection, was republished by Arlen House and is a reprint of the 1935 edition. This edition contains an introduction by Janet Madden-Simpson describing the world of Hoult's Holy Ireland. In 1984 Madden-Simpson had borrowed Daniel Corkery's phrase 'hidden Ireland' to describe the treatment of women writers within an Irish critical tradition dominated by men (Introduction to Woman's Part: An Anthology of Short Fiction by and about Irish Women, 1890-1960). This edition of Holy Ireland also contains a preface written by Norah Hoult shortly before her death. In the preface she describes how she came to write Holy Ireland. An excerpt is below:

"It all seemed to boil down to one word, bigotry, which I had not come across before. I was very shocked to learn that my grandfather's house was locked against my mother who had eloped as far as the registrar's office on the quays, on the morning of her 21st birthday, to wed a faithful and non-Catholic suitor. 

That was to me an insulting oddity to being with, and another was when my father talked to me about the row in the Abbey Theatre on the performance of 'The Playboy of the Western World.' I vividly remember his telling me that the trouble began because the play outraged their Irish sense of modesty." 

Once Lizette Woodworth Reese (1856 -1935) left high school in 1873 she was a professional, independent woman. That year she began teaching and in 1874 published her first poem in Baltimore's Southern Magazine. For 45 years she taught in Baltimore's public schools. She was one of the founders of the Woman's Literary Club of Baltimore and was its chairman of poetry until her death. In April 1931 she was named Poet Laureate of the General Federation of Women's Clubs and was also given an honorary doctorate of literature. A Wayside Lute (1909) includes poems previously published in other magazines: "Lydia is Gone This Many A Year" in Harper's, "The Lark," "The Dust," and "A Christmas Folk-Song" in Lippincott's and other poems in Scribner's and The Independent. This, the 3rd edition, was published in 1922 with green paper covered boards and a floral pattern on the boards. 450 copies were printed on Van Gelder hand-made paper. All editions of A Wayside Lute were published by Thomas B Mosher who was an important publisher associated with the private press movement and based in Portland, Maine. 


E. Pauline Johnson (1861-1913), also known as Tekahionwake, was a Canadian First Nations writer and performer of her own works. She was born in Six Nations, Ontario where her father was a Mohawk hereditary chief. Johnson's mother had immigrated to Canada as a young child. The dual nature of Johnson's heritage was evident in her work and her performances and also represent the complex politics of her personal and political experiences during an intense period of restrictive legal policy and state regulation. During the 1880s Johnson published regularly in The Globe, The Week and Saturday Night contributing to a growing Canadian literature; despite this Margaret Atwood did not include her, nor anyone else, as an example of First Nations writing in Survival: A Thematic Guide to Canadian Literature (1972). Johnson's first book of poetry was The White Wampum (1895), followed by Canadian Born (1903), Flint and Feather (1912). Johnson had met Joe Capilano, a Squamish chief, in London in 1906. Following her retirement from performances she worked with Capilano retelling his stories and writing about Vancouver landmarks: Siwash Rock, Deadman's Island and The Lions. The result was Legends of Vancouver (1911). This is the 8th edition with a portrait frontispiece of Johnson in her First Nations dress which she frequently used in her performances. This dress is now held in Vancouver Museum.

Anne Pratt (1806–1893) was a botanist from the south east of England. As she had a 'stiff knee' her elder sister assisted her in collecting plants and Pratt formed an extensive herbrarium. She also supplemented her collection by making sketches of various specimens. These drawings afterwords formed illustrations for her books. Her principal work is The Flowering Plants and Ferns of Great Britain (1855-1873) which was published in six volumes. The work covered over 1500 species, with 300 illustrations. Special Collections' copy of this work forms part of Cynthia Longfield's donation to UCC Library. Cynthia Longfield was a noted entomologist. Pratt's works were written in a popular style but are also botanically accurate. Other works included The Field, the Garden and the Woodland (1838), Wild Flowers (1852) and The British Grasses and Sedges (1858).   

Phyllis Kelway (1906-1945) was a noted natural history expert in 1940s England and ran a small holding 'The Ark' in Almondbury. Kelway wrote various books about wildlife which she illustrated with her own sketches and photographs, books for children and wrote scripts for BBC Radio's Children's Hour. She was a Fellow of the Royal Horticultural Society and featured in a short British Pathe film (1942). 

The Books

Cover to Jackanapes by Juliana Horatia Ewing. London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, n.d.

Opening chapter to Jackanapes by Juliana Horatia Ewing. London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, n.d.

Ewing, Juliana Horatia. Jackanapes. London: Bell, 1927.

Frontispiece to Jackanapes by Juliana Horatio Ewing. London: Bell, 1927.

Frontispiece portrait of Juliana Horatia Ewing in Juliana Horatia Ewing and Her Books by Horatia KF Gatty. London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 1885. 

Ewing, Juliana Horatia. Daddy Darwin's Dovecot: A Country Tale. London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, n.d.

Ewing, Juliana Horatia. Dandelion ClocksLondon: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, n.d.

Ewing, Juliana Horatia. The Story of a Short LifeLondon: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, n.d.

Schreiner, Olive. Dreams. London: Fisher Unwin, 1891.

Portrait frontispiece to Olive Schreiner's Dreams. London: Fisher Unwin, 1891.

Title page with Beardsley design to Florence Farr's The Dancing Faun. London: Elkin Mathews, 1894.

Richardson, Dorothy. Pointed Roofs: A Pilgrimage. London: Duckworth, 1915.

Sinclair, May. A Cure for Souls. London: Hutchinson, 1924.

Advertisements in A Cure of Souls by May Sinclair. This page is opposite the advertisement on The Smart Set. Physical Culture magazine promoted health and fitness. The magazine was published between 1899-1955. Ball State University holds a digital collection of the magazine. 

Advertisements in A Cure of Souls by May Sinclair. This page is opposite the advertisement on Physical Culture. The Smart Set: The Aristocrat of Modern Magazines was an American literary magazine which ran from 1900-1930. A complete set of the journal is on the Modernist Journals Project under the aegis of Brown University and the University of Tulsa. 

Spencer, Claire. Gallows' Orchard. London: Cape, 1930.

Warner, Sylvia Townsend. Opus 7. London: Chatto and Windus, 1931.

"I knew a time..." is an example of the metaphors used by Sylvia Townsend Warner about World War 1 in Opus 7. London: Chatto and Windus, 1931.

Inscription to Nancy McCarthy by Norah Hoult on Holy Ireland. New York: Reynal & Hitchcock, [1936].

Page 1 of a letter from Norah Hoult to Nancy McCarthy in Holy Ireland by Norah Hoult. 

Page 2 of a letter from Norah Hoult to Nancy McCarthy in Holy Ireland by Norah Hoult. 

Johnson, E Pauline. Legends of Vancouver. Vancouver: Saturday Sunset, 1913.

Portrait frontispiece to Legends of Vancouver by E Pauline Johnson. Vancouver: Saturday Sunset, 1913.

Reese, Lizette Woodworth. A Wayside Lute. Maine: Mosher, 1922.

"To-Day" the opening poem in A Wayside Lute by Lizette Woodworth Reese.

"Common Nightshade or Solanum nigrum" in The Poisonous, Noxious, and Suspected Plants of our Fields and Woods by Anne Pratt. London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, [n.d.].

Various grasses in British Grasses and Sedges by Anne Pratt.  London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, [1858].

Kelway, Phyllis. The Ark. London: Jenkins, 1944.

Details on the quality of paper used in this edition of The Ark by Phyllis Kelway.