Juliana Horatia Ewing
Juliana Horatia Ewing
|Born||3 August 1841|
Ecclesfield, Sheffield, England
|Died||13 May 1885 (aged 43)|
Bath, Somerset, England
Juliana Horatia Ewing (née Gatty, 3 August 1841 - 13 May 1885) was an English writer of children's stories. Her writings display a sympathetic insight into children's lives, an admiration for things military, and a strong religious faith.
Known as Julie, she was the second of ten children of the Rev. Alfred Gatty, Vicar of Ecclesfield in Yorkshire, and Margaret Gatty, who was herself a children's author. Their children were educated mainly by their mother, but Julie was often the driving force behind their various activities: drama, botany and so on. Later she was responsible for setting up a village library in Ecclesfield and helped out in the parish with her three sisters. Early stories of hers appeared in Charlotte Yonge's magazine Monthly Packet.
On 1 June 1867, Julie married Major Alexander Ewing (1830-1895) of the Army Pay Corps. He was also a keen churchgoer and shared his wife's interest in literature. Within a week of their marriage, the Ewings left England for Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada, where he had received a new posting. They remained there for two years, before returning to England in 1869 and spending eight years in the army town of Aldershot. Although her husband was sent overseas again, to Malta in 1879 and Sri Lanka in 1881, Ewing's poor health precluded her from accompanying him.
On her husband's return in 1883, the Ewings moved to Trull, Somerset, and then in 1885 to Bath, in the hopes that the change of air would do her good. However, her health continued to decline, and after two operations, she died in Bath on 13 May 1885. She was given a military funeral at Trull three days later.
Julie's sister Horatia Katharine Frances Gatty (1846-1945) published a memorial of her life and works, which includes a publication history of her stories. A later selection includes some of Julie's letters and drawings about Canada. A biography of her by Gillian Avery appeared in 1961.
Roger Lancelyn Green calls Ewing's works the "first outstanding child-novels" in English literature. They are notable for their sympathetic insight into child life, for the admiration shown for things military, and their reflection of Ewing's strong Anglican faith. They include Mrs. Overtheway's Remembrances (1869), A Flat Iron for a Farthing (1873),Six to Sixteen (1875), Jackanapes (1884), Daddy Darwin's Dovecot (1884), and The Story of a Short Life (1885).
The last story inspired Grace Kimmins to start the Guild of the Poor Brave Things to help children with disabilities in London. Grace and later Ada Vachell took their motto Laetus sorte mea (Happy in my lot) from Ewing's book. Her Madam Liberality (1873) has been taken to be autobiographical.
Rudyard Kipling claimed to know Ewing's novel Jan of the Windmill (1872-1873; 1876) almost by heart. He wrote in his autobiography, Something of Myself: "One [book] I have still, a bound copy of Aunt Judy's Magazine of the early 'seventies, in which appeared Mrs. Ewing's "Six to Sixteen". I owe more in circuitous ways to that tale than I can tell. I knew it, as I know it still, almost by heart. Here was a history of real people and real things." Her story The Brownies (1865) gave the Baden-Powells the idea and the name for the junior level of the Girl Guides. Another admirer of her work was E. Nesbit.
A talented artist herself, Ewing's works were frequently illustrated by such notables figures as George Cruikshank and Randolph Caldecott. She was also the editor of a number of magazines which published short stories for children, such as the Nursery Magazine from 1856 onwards, the Monthly Packet, and the monthly Aunt Judy's Magazine from 1866.