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Juliana Horatia Ewing's Biography (Books)

Juliana Horatia Ewing (nee Gatty) (3 August 1841 - 13 May 1885) was an English writer of children's stories.

Juliana Ewing was born Juliana Gatty in 1841. The daughter of a vicar, she grew up in a large family in Ecclesfield, Yorkshire, England. Educated at home, she was encouraged to write by her mother, who edited Aunt Judy's Magazine, a publication for children later edited by Ewing and her sister. Ewing married a major in the British army, and the couple moved to New Brunswick, Canada. During her three years there, she sent home letters with watercolor illustrations of her life and surroundings. Ill health prevented Ewing from traveling abroad with her husband to his other postings, and she lived in England until her death.

Ewing's writings for children are rooted in family life and folk traditions. Her books include A Flat Iron for a Farthing: Or Some Passages in the Life of an Only Son (1872), Lob Lie-By-the-Fire: or, The luck of Lingborough, and other stories (1874), Jackanapes (1883), and The Peace Egg and a Christmas Mumming Play (1887). Her 1865 story "The Brownies" inspired the name for the Brownies of the Girl Scouts.

Juliana Horatia Ewing's writing was marked by genuine human feeling. Her greatest strengths were her ability to convey the normal pleasures of childhood in an unaffected, unpatronizing manner; her gift for detailed, accurate description of country life; her gentle, lightly ironic humour; and her simple, practical common sense and piety. Her stories may have the manner of the Victorian era, but they have a permanent place in the history of children's literature.

Ewing's drawings and paintings were welcomed by her family and friends primarily for two reasons. First, it gave them reassurance that she was faring well and enjoying her time in Fredericton. Second, it allowed them insight into life in the colonies - primarily because of Ewing's attention to detail, her curiosity and deep desire to communicate to those in England her observations and experiences. She, unlike other artists, was not looking to market her works, and, therefore, there is every reason to believe that there is little tendency to exaggerate, accommodate or edit her observations. Perhaps, in the same way that it has been said of her writing, that she wrote more about children than to children. Laski suggests that her works were less didactically moralistic and sentimental than other Victorian writers. It may be fair to say the same of her art work. She was keen to communicate accurately to her family what she observed. Modern viewers value them because of the record they offer of a critical time in New Brunswick and Canadian history. Her commentaries in text and picture also shed a considerable light on the social milieu of the garrison town, its social stratification and both the culture and environment in which she enthusiastically immersed herself.

Juliana's health had always been delicate and within a few years of their return to England she began to suffer more frequent bouts of illness. She died in 1885; some say from blood poisioning and others speculate that she had cancer of the uterus that had, over the years, metastasized. The Ewings never had any children - but she was loved the world over by the children who devoured her writings.

Her sister Horatia Katharine Frances Gatty (1846-1945) published a memorial of Julie's life and works, Juliana Horatia Ewing and Her Books London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 1885. It contains a useful publication history of her stories. Leaves from Juliana Horatia Ewing's "Canada Home.", edited by Elizabeth S. Tucker (Boston: Roberts Brothers, 1896) includes some of Julie's letters and drawings about Canada. A biography of her by Gillian Avery appeared in 1961 (London: Bodley Head).

Credits: wikipedia.org, wikispaces.com, www.biographi.ca