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Charlotte Mary Yonge

Charlotte Yonge circa 1845
Born 11 August 1823(1823-08-11)
Otterbourne, Hampshire
Died 24 May 1901 (aged 77)
Nationality British
Home town Otterbourne
Known for Author (novelist)
Religion Anglican

Charlotte Mary Yonge (11 August 1823 - 24 May 1901), was an English novelist, known for her huge output, now mostly out of print.

Contents

Life

Charlotte Mary Yonge was born in Otterbourne, Hampshire, England, on 11 August 1823 to William Yonge and Fanny Yonge, née Bargus.[1] She was educated at home by her father, studying Latin, Greek, French, Euclid, and algebra.[2] Her father's lessons could be harsh:

He required a diligence and accuracy that were utterly alien to me. He thundered at me so that nobody could bear to hear it, and often reduced me to tears, but his approbation was so delightful that it was a delicious stimulus.... I believe, in spite of all breezes over my innate slovenliness, it would have broken our hearts to leave off working together. And we went on till I was some years past twenty.[3]

Yonge's devotion to her father was life-long and her relationship with him seems to have been for her the standard for all other relationships, including marriage.[4] His "approbation was throughout life my bliss; his anger my misery for the time."[5]

She was born into a religious family background, was devoted to the Church of England, and much influenced by John Keble, Vicar of Hursley from 1835, a near neighbour and one of the leaders of the Oxford Movement. Yonge is herself sometimes referred to as "the novelist of the Oxford Movement", as her novels frequently reflect the values and concerns of Anglo-Catholicism. She remained in Otterbourne all her life and for 71 years was a teacher in the village Sunday school.[6]

In 1868 a new parish was formed to the south of Yonge's home village of Otterbourne; the parish was to contain the villages of Eastley and Barton. Yonge donated £500 towards the parish church and was asked to choose which of the two villages the parish should be named after. She chose Eastley, but decided that it should be spelt Eastleigh as she perceived this as being more modern.[7]

Literary career

She began writing in 1848, and published during her long life about 160 works, chiefly novels.[8] Her first commercial success, The Heir of Redclyffe (1853), provided the funding to enable the schooner Southern Cross to be put into service on behalf of George Selwyn. Similar charitable works were done with the profits from later novels. Yonge was also a founder and editor for forty years of The Monthly Packet, a magazine (founded in 1851) with a varied readership, but targeted at British Anglican girls (in later years it was addressed to a somewhat wider readership).

Among the best known of her works are The Heir of Redclyffe, Heartsease, and The Daisy Chain. A Book of Golden Deeds is a collection of true stories of courage and self-sacrifice. She also wrote Cameos from English History, Life of John Coleridge Patteson: Missionary Bishop of the Melanesian Islands and Hannah More. Her History of Christian Names was described as "the first serious attempt at tackling the subject" and as the standard work on names in the preface to the first edition of Withycombe's The Oxford Dictionary of English Christian Names, 1944.

Her personal example and influence on her god-daughter, Alice Mary Coleridge, played a formative role in Coleridge's zeal for women's education and thus, indirectly, led to the foundation of Abbots Bromley School for Girls.

After her death, her friend, assistant and collaborator, Christabel Coleridge, published the biographical Charlotte Mary Yonge: her Life and Letters (1903).

Reputation

Yonge's work was widely read and respected in the nineteenth century. Among her admirers were Lewis Carroll, George Eliot, William Ewart Gladstone, Charles Kingsley, Christina Rossetti, Alfred, Lord Tennyson, and Anthony Trollope.[9] William Morris and Edward Burne-Jones read The Heir of Redclyffe aloud to each other while undergraduates at Oxford University and "took [the hero, Guy Morville's] medieval tastes and chivalric ideals as presiding elements in the formation of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood."[10] Yonge's work was compared favorably with that of Jane Austen, Honoré de Balzac, Gustave Flaubert, Trollope, and Emile Zola.[10] So popular were her works that

A midshipman was able to supply from memory a missing page in his ship's copy of The Daisy Chain. An officer in the Guards, asked in a game of "Confessions" what his prime object in life was, answered that it was to make himself like Guy Morville, hero of The Heir of Redclyffe.[11]

By the 1940s, however, Yonge's reputation had fallen. Q.D. Leavis wrote in 1944 that Yonge's work must be inferior because her life had been "peculiarly starved," and that her Christian beliefs were "only an ignorant idealization projected by an inhuman theory" that resulted in a "moral cramp in the developing consciousness."[12] According to critic Catherine Sandbach-Dahlström, this "tendency to confuse the moral quality of Charlotte Yonge's view of life with the quality of her literary expression has constantly be-deviled her work."[13] Yonge's work has been little studied, with the possible exception of The Heir of Redclyffe.[14]

Works

Notes

  1. ^ Hayter (1996), vii.
  2. ^ Coleridge (1903), 107-108.
  3. ^ Coleridge (1903), p. 108
  4. ^ Sturrock (1995), pp. 17-18
  5. ^ Quoted in Sturrock (1995), p. 17
  6. ^ Cross, F. L. (ed.) (1957) The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church. London: Oxford U. P.; p. 1484
  7. ^ Lambert, Tim. "A Brief History of Eastleigh, Hampshire". http://www.localhistories.org/eastleigh.html. Retrieved 2008-09-07. 
  8. ^ Cross, F. L. (ed.) (1957); p. 1484
  9. ^ Hayter (1996), 1.
  10. ^ a b Hayter (1996), 2.
  11. ^ Hayter (1996), 1-2.
  12. ^ Quoted in Sandbach-Dahlström (1984), 2.
  13. ^ Sandbach-Dahlström (1984), 3.
  14. ^ Sandbach-Dahlström (1984), 8.

Further reading

  • Battiscombe, G. & Laski, M. (eds.) (1965) A Chaplet for Charlotte Yonge: papers by Georgina Battiscombe, Katharine Briggs, Lettice Cooper, Alice Fairfax-Lucy, Annis Gillie, Ruth Harris, Elizabeth Jenkins, Margaret Kennedy, Marghanita Laski, Violet Powell, Catherine Storr, Kathleen Tillotson, Rachel Townsend, together with genealogical tables & bibliography, also some little-known pieces by Charlotte Yonge "Last heartsease leaves, authorship, etc."; edited for the Charlotte Yonge Society by Georgina Battiscombe and Marghanita Laski. London: Cresset Press
  • Budge, Gavin (2003) "Realism and Typology in Charlotte M. Yonge’s The Heir of Redclyffe." Victorian Literature and Culture 31 (2003): 193–223.
  • Coleridge, Christabel Rose (1903) Charlotte Mary Yonge: Her Life and Letters. London: Macmillan and Company
  • Dennis, Barbara (1997) Introduction. The Heir of Redclyffe. Oxford: Oxford U. P.
  • Hayter, Alethea (1996) Charlotte Yonge. Northcote House
  • Jay, Elisabeth (2004) "Yonge, Charlotte Mary." Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004. Retrieved on 8 May 2009.
  • Sandbach-Dahlström, Catherine (1984) Be Good Sweet Maid: Charlotte Yonge's Domestic Fiction. Stockholm, Sweden: Almquist and Wiksell International ISBN 9122006583.
  • Sturrock, June (1995) "Heaven and Home": Charlotte M. Yonge's Domestic Fiction and the Victorian Debate Over Women. Carlton, Vict.: University of Victoria ISBN 0920604846.
  • Walton, Susan (2010) Imagining Soldiers and Fathers in the Mid-Victorian Era: Charlotte Yonge's Models of Manliness. Farnham: Ashgate Publishing. ISBN 978-0-7546-6959-3
  • Wells-Cole, Catherine (2000) "Angry Yonge Men: Anger and Masculinity in the Novels of Charlotte M. Yonge." In Masculinity and Spirituality in Victorian Culture. Ed. by Andrew Bradstock, Sean Gill, Anne Hogan, and Sue Morgan. New York: St. Martin’s Press

External links

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