Obituaries


From The Times, 11/2/1887
We have to record to-day the death of Mrs. Henry Wood, the well-known authoress of "East Lynne." Mrs. Wood's condition had been such for several weeks to cause great anxiety to her relatives and friends, and the return of the severe weather, while she was still in a critical state, completely prostrated by bronchitis, in addition to a weak action of the heart, proved fatal to her at an early hour yesterday morning. Miss Ellen Price's early life, up to the time of her marriage with Mr. Henry Wood, was passed in the city of Worcester, where she obtained familiarity with the phases of cathedral life which have formed the subject of so many of her stories. Shortly after her marriage Mrs. Wood went to reside abroad, and when living in France, her first effort in fiction, in the form of a short story, appeared in Bentley's Miscellany*, and she was also a frequent contributor to the pages of Colburn's Magazine. It was not until 1861 that her first long story - "East Lynne" - was given to the public*. It is unnecessary here to dwell upon the character of a book now in its 141st thousand, which has been translated not only into most Continental languages, but also into some Eastern tongues, and in its dramatic shape is being almost nightly performed in different parts of England and France, as well as in the United States. It may not, perhaps, be out of place to mention, as illustrating a defect in the existing law of copyright, that Mrs. Wood never received a single farthing for the dramatic use of the story. After the appearance of "East Lynne", "The Channings" and "Mrs Halliburton's Troubles" followed in rapid succession, and after 1867, when Mrs. Wood became associated with the conduct of the Argosy magazine, many of her later stories were first presented to the public through the medium of that periodical. One of her stories, "A Life's Secret," was in the first instance issued anonymously by the Religious Tract Society in the pages of The Leisure Hour, and the appearance of this tale, which dealt with the evil tendencies springing out of strikes and trade unions, so excited the ire of some of the agitators that a crowd assembled outside the publishing office of the society and threatened to break the windows unless the name of the author were given up. Yet from the humblest quarters, as well as on the part of the more educated classes, Mrs. Wood was constantly receiving evidences of the widespread popularity of her works. One of her stories, "Danesbury House," gained the prize of the Scottish Temperance Society on account of the topics dealt with in it. Mrs Wood's literary activity was also at work for a time in an unsuspected channel, and it was not until 1879 that the identity of "Johnny Ludlow" with the author of "East Lynne" was publicly declared. After the death of her husband Mrs. Henry Wood returned to England*, and for many years she resided in the midst of numerous friends in St. John's-wood. Her latest literary occupations have been a three-volume story, which is yet to appear, and a paper by "Johnny Ludlow." She leaves several sons and a daughter. Mrs. Wood had been in delicate health for some months, but her physical weakness was for a time overcome by her natural energy of disposition and mental activity. A portrait of Mrs. Wood (almost the only one extant) engraved upon steel by Mr. L. Stocks, R.A., appears in the January number of the Argosy[There then follows a list of Wood's novels in alphabetical order].

Errors in the above obituary:
1) Wood's first story appeared in Colburn's New Monthly Magazine NOT Bentley's Miscellany.
2) Wood's first long story was Danesbury House.
3) The Woods returned to live in England in 1856 when Mr. Wood was still alive.


"The Late Mrs. Henry Wood" from The London Illustrated News, 19/2/1887
The death of this lady who has for a quarter of a century past been one of the acceptable female contributors to popular literature, is noticed with regret. She was born about 1820*. Ellen Price, eldest daughter of Mr. Thomas Price, head of a large glove-manufacturing establishment at Worcester, who was a man of some literary taste and accomplishment. She married, early in life, Mr. Henry Wood, who was engaged in the shipping trade in London*. Her first published writings appeared in the "New Monthly Magazine" and in "Bentley's Miscellany". She wrote "Danebury House"[sic]*, which was published in 1860, for the prize of 100 offered by the Scottish Temperance Society, for the best story to illustrate the good effects of temperance in drink. In the following year she produced "East Lynne," a domestic story of highly original conception and of such romantic interest, which at once gained strongly on the minds of a great multitude of readers. "The Channings," "Mrs. Halliburton's Troubles," "The Shadow of Ashlydyat," and "Verner's Pride" kept up the success that she had won: they were followed by "Lord Oakburn's Daughters," "Oswald Cray," "Trevlyn Hold" and other striking tales, with a variety of plot and sustained freshness of tone, which was wonderful in those years when she was constantly writing three of four stories at the same time for different contemporary magazines. In a more permanent form of publication they had a prolonged existence. Some of them were translated into the French language. "Roland Yorke," a sequel to "The Channings," appeared in 1869; and in 1870, "George Canterbury's Will," reprinted from Tinsley's Magazine. The authoress was appointed editor of the Argosy*, a magazine established by Mr. Bentley*, for whom she wrote, in and after 1870, "Dene Hollow," "Within the Maze," "The Master of Greylands," "Pomeroy Abbey," and several other tales widely approved; but the series entitled "Johnny Ludlow," begun in 1880*, present not the least characteristic and effective qualities of her mind, and of her matured habit of thought and sentiment.

Errors in the above obituary:
1) Correct birth date is 1814.
2) Henry Wood's business interests were concentrated in the south of France.
3) Correct spelling is Danesbury House.
4) In fact Wood bought the Argosy for herself to edit.
5) The Argosy was established by Alexander Strahan.
6) Johnny Ludlow - Second Series was published in 1880, but the stories began in 1868.


"Mrs. H. Wood" from The Athenaeum, 13/2/1887
            We much regret to announce the death, after a long illness, of Mrs. Henry Wood, at the age of sixty-eight.* She was born at Worcester, where her father was engaged in the glove trade. She married at an early age, and for many years subsequently she lived abroad, but after her husband's death she settled in London.* She gained a first footing as a contributor to the New Monthly and Bentley's Miscellany, and thereby became acquainted with Mr. George Bentley, who remained her friend through life. In 1860 she won a prize of 100 offered by a temperance league for a tale illustrative of their principles; but she only became known to the general public in 1861 through the publication of 'East Lynne,' which achieved an extraordinary popularity. This was the first of a series of novels that the author poured out with remarkable facility. Her familiarity with Worcester scenes and life in a cathedral city appeared in many of her works, notably in 'The Channings' and 'Mrs. Halliburton's Troubles.'
            In connexion with Mrs. Wood's most famous story we ought to mention that it is being at the present day almost constantly acted in either London or the provinces, yet the author never received a single farthing from any one of three versions. Many years ago, a friend of hers, the late Lord Lyttelton, introduced a Bill to the House of Lords based largely upon this fact and to provide a remedy, but it was thrown out on technical grounds, and the proposed revision of the Copyright Acts prevented its reintroduction.
            In the sixties there was a rage for starting new magazines, nor were novelists less inclined to do so than publishers. Miss Braddon, after the success of 'Lady Audley's Secret' and 'Aurora Floyd,' commenced Belgravia, and so in 1867 Mrs. Wood launched the Argosy, which is understood to have had a highly prosperous voyage. In it several of her novels made their first appearance, and, indeed, one of them is now running through its pages. Some of her best work was contributed to it under the title 'Johnny Ludlow,' a series of stories that were collected and issued anonymously. Their great popularity led to the issue of a second series*.
            Of late years Mrs. Wood's health had been somewhat precarious, and she led a very retired life, almost restricted to the intercourse of intimate friends or relations. A sharp attack of bronchitis during the severe weather that followed Christmas completely prostrated her, and nothing but her indomitable will and natural energy permitted hope of her recovery. The sudden change at the beginning of the week was fatal to her, and she passed away about 4 o'clock on Thursday morning. Mrs Wood leaves behind her several sons, one of whom inherits the literary tendencies of his mother, and a daughter. Mrs. Wood's pen was active up to the last, and we believe that among her papers are two complete unpublished stories.

Errors in the above obituary:
1) Wood was actually seventy-three.
2) The Woods returned to live in England when Mr. Wood was still alive. See The Times obituary.
3) A Third series of Johnny Ludlow had also appeared by the time of Wood's death.