Mary Louisa Molesworth

Mary Louisa Molesworth
Mary Louisa Molesworth
Born 29 May 1839(1839-05-29)
Rotterdam, South Holland, Netherlands
Died 20 January 1921(1921-01-20) (aged 81)
London, England
Pen name Ennis Graham
Occupation Writer
Nationality English
Period 19th century
Genres Children's Literature

Mary Louisa Molesworth (29 May 1839 – 20 January 1921) was an English writer of children's stories who wrote for children under the name of Mrs Molesworth.[1] She was born in Rotterdam, a daughter of Charles Augustus Stewart (1809–1873) who later became a rich merchant in Manchester and his wife Agnes Janet Wilson (1810–1883). Mary had three brothers and two sisters. She was educated in Great Britain and Switzerland: much of her girlhood was spent in Manchester. In 1861 she married Major R. Molesworth, nephew of Viscount Molesworth; they separated legally in 1879.[2] Her first novels, for adult readers, Lover and Husband (1869) to Cicely (1874), appeared under the pseudonym of "Ennis Graham." Her name occasionally appears in print as "M. L. S. Molesworth" (see William Abbatt, The Colloquial Who's Who, p.28,

"Mary Louisa Molesworth typified late Victorian writing for girls. Aimed at girls too old for fairies and princesses but too young for Austen and the Brontës, books by Molesworth had their share of amusement, but they also had a good deal of moral instruction. The girls reading Molesworth would grow up to be mothers; thus, the books emphasized Victorian notions of duty and self-sacrifice."[3]

Typical of the time, her young child characters often use a lisping style, and words may be mis-spelt to represent children's speech—"jography" for geography, for instance.

Mrs Molesworth is best known as a writer of books for the young, such as Tell Me a Story (1875), Carrots (1876), The Cuckoo Clock (1877), The Tapestry Room (1879), and A Christmas Child (1880). She has been called "the Jane Austen of the nursery," while The Carved Lions (1895) "is probably her masterpiece."[4]

She took an interest in supernatural fiction. In 1888, she published a collection of supernatural tales under the title Four Ghost Stories, and in 1896 a similar collection of six tales under the title Uncanny Stories. In addition to those, her volume Studies and Stories includes a ghost story entitled "Old Gervais" and her Summer Stories for Boys and Girls includes "Not exactly a ghost story." [1] [2]

A new edition of The Cuckoo Clock was published in 1914.

She died in 1921 and is buried in Brompton Cemetery, London.


References in other works


  1. ^ Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2004).
  2. ^ Browning, D. C., comp. (1958) Everyman's Dictionary of Literary Biography; English & American. London: Dent; pp. 477-78
  3. ^ Roger Lancelyn Green, Mrs Molesworth (Bodley Head, London, 1961)
  4. ^ Green, Roger Lancelyn, "The Golden Age of Children's Literature," in: Sheila Egoff, G. T. Stubbs, and L. F. Ashley, eds., Only Connect: Readings on Children's Literature, New York, Oxford University Press; second edition, 1980; pp. 9-10.

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. 

Further reading

  • Cooper, Jane (2002) Mrs. Molesworth: a biography. Crowborough: Pratts Folly Press ISBN 0954285409

External links

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