Ellen Wood (author)

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Ellen Wood
Portrait of Ellen Wood by Reginald Easton
BornEllen Price
(1814-01-17)17 January 1814
Worcester, England
Died10 February 1887(1887-02-10) (aged 73)
Notable works East Lynne (1861)


Ellen Wood (née Price; 17 January 1814 10 February 1887), was an English novelist, better known as Mrs. Henry Wood. She is best remembered for her 1861 novel East Lynne , but many of her books became international bestsellers and widespread in the United States. In her time, she surpassed the fame of Charles Dickens in Australia. [1]



Ellen Price was born in Worcester in 1814. In 1836 she married Henry Wood, who worked in the banking and shipping trade in Dauphiné in the South of France, where they lived for 20 years. [2] On the failure of Wood's business, the family (including four children) returned to England and settled in Upper Norwood near London, where Ellen Wood turned to writing. This supported the family (Henry Wood died in 1866). She wrote over 30 novels, many of which (especially East Lynne) enjoyed remarkable popularity. Among the best known are Danesbury House, Oswald Cray, Mrs. Halliburton's Troubles, The Channings , Lord Oakburn's Daughters and The Shadow of Ashlydyat. Her writing tone would be described as "conservative and Christian," [3] occasionally expressing religious rhetoric. [4]

In 1867, Wood purchased the English magazine Argosy, which had been founded by Alexander Strahan in 1865. [5] She wrote much of the magazine herself, but other contributors included Hesba Stretton, Julia Kavanagh, Christina Rossetti, Sarah Doudney and Rosa Nouchette Carey. Wood continued as its editor until her death in 1887, when her son Charles Wood took over. [6]

Wood's works were translated into many languages, including French and Russian. [7] Leo Tolstoy, in a 9 March 1872 letter to his older brother Sergei, noted that he was "reading Mrs. Wood's wonderful novel In the Maze". [8] [9]

Wood wrote several works of supernatural fiction, including "The Ghost" (1862) and the oft–anthologized "Reality or Delusion?" (1868). [10] [11]

At her death (caused by bronchitis), [12] her estate was valued at over £36,000, which was then a very considerable sum. She was buried in Highgate Cemetery, London. A monument to her was unveiled in Worcester Cathedral in 1916.


Mrs Henry Wood's tomb, Highgate Cemetery

These are the first published UK editions as catalogued by the British Library, with supplementary information from a specialist booksellers' catalogue. [13]

Some translations

  • Les Channing. Traduit de l'Anglais par Mme Abric-Encontre (1864)
  • Les Filles de Lord Oakburn: Roman traduit de l’anglais par L. Bochet (1876)
  • La Gloire des Verner: Roman traduit de l’anglais par L. de L’Estrive (1878)
  • Le Serment de Lady Adelaïde: Roman traduit de l’anglais par Léon Bochet (1878)


  1. Dinah Birch, Katy Hooper. "The Concise Oxford Companion to English Literature". Oxford University Press. p. 783.
  2. "The Literary Encyclopedia". "Mrs Henry Wood". Retrieved 22 December 2008.
  3. Dinah Birch, Katy Hooper. "The Concise Oxford Companion to English Literature". Oxford University Press. p. 783.
  4. "The Ellen Wood Website". A Biographical Sketch. Retrieved 22 December 2008.
  5. "An Index to Periodical Literature". The Argosy. Retrieved 22 December 2008.; ODNB entry: oxforddnb.com Retrieved 31 May 2011.
  6. Harper, Kenneth E., and Bradford A. Booth (1953). "Russian Translations of Nineteenth-Century English Fiction," Nineteenth-Century Fiction, Vol. 8, No. 3, pp. 188–97.
  7. Complete Works of Tolstoy, PSS, 61:276
  8. Goubert, Denis (1980). "Did Tolstoy Read 'East Lynne'?," The Slavonic and East European Review, Vol. 58, No. 1, pp. 22–39.
  9. R. A. Gilbert, Michael Cox The Oxford Book of Victorian Ghost Stories. Oxford University Press, 2003. ISBN   0-19-280447-2 p. xvi.
  10. J. L. Campbell Sr., "Mrs. Henry Wood", in E. F. Bleiler, ed., Supernatural Fiction Writers. New York: Scribner's, 1985. ISBN   0-68-417808-7 pp.279–286.
  11. "The Ellen Wood Website". Obituaries. Retrieved 22 December 2008.
  12. Women Writers R–Z (London: Jarndyce, 2012)
  13. "Shropshire-cc.gov.uk". Archived from the original on 24 October 2007.
  14. British Library Retrieved 23 March 2018.

Further reading