Wiehe, Elinor May Clowes 1872-1942 (Elinor Mordaunt, E. M. Clowes)

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WIEHE, Elinor May Clowes 1872-1942 (Elinor Mordaunt, E. M. Clowes)

PERSONAL: Born 1872, in Cotgrove, Nottinghamshire, England; died June 25, 1942, in Oxford, England; daughter of St. John Legh and Elizabeth (Bingham) Clowes; married Maurice Wiehe (a sugar planter), 1898 (marriage ended); married Robert Rawnsley Bowles (a retired barrister), 1933; children (first marriage): Godfry Weston.

CAREER: Writer and traveler.


as elinor mordaunt

The Garden of Contentment, Heinemann (London, England), 1902.

Rosemary That's for Remembrance, Lothian (Melbourne, Australia), 1909, Scott (London, England), 1909.

(As E. M. Clowes) On the Wallaby through Victoria, (London, England), 1911.

A Ship of Solace, Sturgis & Walton (New York, NY), 1911.

The Cost of It, Sturgis & Walton (New York, NY), 1912.

The Kid and the Captain, Heinemann (London, England), 1912.

Lu of the Ranges, Sturgis & Walton (New York, NY), 1913.

Simpson, Houghton Mifflin (New York, NY), 1913.

Bellamy, John Lane (New York, NY), 1914.

The Island, Heinemann (London, England), 1914.

The Family, John Lane (New York, NY), 1915.

The Rose of Youth, John Lane (New York, NY), 1915.

Shoe and Stocking Stories, John Lane (New York, NY), 1915.

The Park Wall, Cassell (New York, NY), 1916.

Before Midnight, Cassell (New York, NY), 1917.

The Pendulum, Cassell (New York, NY), 1918.

The Processionals, Cassell (New York, NY), 1918.

Old Wine in New Bottles, Hutchinson (London, England), 1919.

While There's Life, Holt (New York, NY), 1919.

The Little Soul: A Novel, Hutchinson (London, England), 1920, McCann (New York, NY), 1921.

Laura Creichton, Hutchinson (London, England), 1921, Small, Maynard (Boston, MA), 1922.

Alas, That Spring! Hutchinson (London, England), 1922, Small, Maynard (Boston, MA), 1923.

Short Shipments, Hutchinson (London, England), 1922.

Reputation, Hutchinson (London, England), 1923, Small, Maynard (Boston, MA), 1924.

People, Houses, and Ships, Hutchinson (London, England), 1924.

The Real Sally, Hutchinson (London, England), 1925.

The Venture Book, John Lane (New York, NY), 1926.

The Further Venture Book, John Lane (London, England), 1926.

And Then—? Tales of Land and Sea, Hutchinson (London, England), 1927.

The Dark Fire, Century (New York, NY), 1927.

Father and Daughter, Hutchinson (London, England), 1928, published as Too Much Java, Payson & Clarke (New York, NY), 1928.

These Generations, Brewer & Warren (New York, NY), 1930.

Full Circle, Secker (London, England), 1931, published as Gin and Bitters, Farrar & Rinehart (New York, NY), 1931.

Cross Winds, Day (New York, NY), 1932.

Purely for Pleasure, Secker (London, England), 1932, published as Rich Tapestry, Farrar & Rinehart (New York, NY), 1932.

Mrs. Van Kleek, Day (New York, NY), 1933.

Traveller's Pack, Secker (London, England), 1933.

The Tales of Elinor Mordaunt, Secker (London, England), 1934.

Prelude to Death, Secker & Warburg (London, England), 1936.

Royals Free, M. Joseph (London, England), 1937.

Sinabada, M. Joseph (London, England), 1937, Greystone (New York, NY), 1938.

Pity of the World, M. Joseph (London, England), 1938, Greystone (New York, NY), 1939.

Mrs. Van Kleek, (play; adapted from Mordaunt's novel) produced in London, England, 1938.

Death It Is, and Other Stories, Hutchinson (London, England), 1939.

Roses in December, M. Joseph (London, England), 1939.

Hobby Horse, Hutchinson (London, England), 1940.

Judge Not, Hutchinson (London, England), 1940.

Return to Spring, Greystone (New York, NY), 1940.

Blitz Kids, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1941.

Here Too Is Valour, Muller (London, England), 1941.

Tropic Heat, Hutchinson (London, England), 1941.

This Was Our Life, Hutchinson (London, England), 1942.

To Sea! To Sea! Muller (London, England), 1943.

Contributor to periodical publications, including London Times.

SIDELIGHTS: Elinor Mordaunt was the pen name for Evelyn May Clowes Wiehe, who captivated readers with accounts of her adventures through Australia, Central and South America, the Dutch East Indies, Southeast Asia and Africa. Colleen Hobbs wrote in the Dictionary of Literary Biography, "The travel writing of Elinor Mordaunt . . . provides a wry, breathless, often lyrical description of a world that delights the readers with its variations."

Mordaunt's parents, who raised eight children, could not afford to send her to school so her governess educated her. Mordaunt's only opportunity to financial security was to marry well. Her longtime love, however, was killed while exploring the Zambezi River in Africa. Grieving from her loss, she and a cousin traveled to the African island of Mauritius where she married sugar planter Maurice Wiehe. They had one son, but the marriage failed. On Mauritius, Mordaunt wrote her first book, The Garden of Contentment, a series of fictional letters based on her memories of England. Suffering from malaria, she left Mauritius and returned to England briefly.

In 1902 Mordaunt traveled to Australia. Her second book, A Ship of Solace, emphasized this trip. In 1933 she married Robert Rawnsley Bowles, but this marraige also ended in failure. Mordaunt remained in Australia for eight years, working various jobs to provide for herself and her son. Lu of the Rangers and The Rose of Youth focus on poverty and her experiences there.

Mordaunt's first travel book also depicted her time in Australia. In On the Wallaby through Victoria, she addresses the economy and social structure of Australia. She includes items of interest in Australia's countryside, including the Aborigines and their customs. One highlight is her look into the lives of girls and women in Melbourne. Unlike women in Great Britain, Melbourne women already had the right to vote and many worked to support themselves and their family. Mordaunt spotlights their often-strenuous jobs, and their salaries, clothes and reading habits. Hobbs wrote, "These details, presumably unimportant to an official historian, reveal the Australian social, economic, and political climate from a perspective that is not considered—that of a working woman."

In 1910 Mordaunt finally returned to England with her son. Between 1911 and 1923, while caring for her son and working, she wrote more than twenty novels. Employed in a silk factory in Staffordshire, she wrote about that experience in Bellamy. From her travels through the Balkans, Italy, and Morocco, she wrote several novels, including Short Shipments.

An adventurer at heart, she was only happy while traveling. Mordaunt's travel-writing career began in earnest in 1923, when she proposed to London's Daily News that she travel the world on cargo ships and write about her journeys for the paper. She was commissioned to explore the islands of the South Pacific and the Dutch East Indies. A two-volume series comprised of The Venture Book and The Further Venture Book chronicles her travels.

While in the South Pacific, Mordaunt found each island affected her differently. She discussed the beauty of Fiji and the seventeenth-century clothing style of the Ambon people, who she likened to the painter Rembrandt's subjects. She also struggled with fever and witnessed disease and catastrophe, including the volcano eruption that killed more than 20,000 people and destroyed Saint-Pierre, Martinique. She shared anecdotes from her encounters with cannibals; eating a relative, she wrote, may be acceptable on one island but taboo on another. Mordaunt earned the nickname Dauvolavola, which means "the one who is always writing from Fiji."

Mordaunt's last travel book, Purely for Pleasure, combines trips to Central America, tropical Africa, and Southeast Asia. Her most disturbing story is about child prostitution in Singapore. With the help of a guide, Mordaunt visited a business that imported young girls from all over the world and traded and sold them like animals. Hobbs wrote, "Without railing against the injustices of the slave system, Mordaunt's intimate descriptions of the tiny girls' faces, their hair, and their laughter clearly reveals the brutality of the system."

Mordaunt's later books were mainly fiction, most of those inspired by stories from The Venture Book and The Further Venture Book. One of her best-known novels, Mrs. Van Kleek, features a cast from government officials to missionaries based on people she met traveling. She also published her autobiography, Sinabada, meaning "Lady King," the name Dutch of East Indies natives gave her.



Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 174: British Travel Writers, 1876-1909, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1997, pp. 241-250.

Spender, Dale, Writing a New World: Two Centuries of Australian Women Writers, Pandora (London, England), 1988.*

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Wiehe, Elinor May Clowes 1872-1942 (Elinor Mordaunt, E. M. Clowes)

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