Craigie, Pearl (Mary Teresa)Richards
CRAIGIE, Pearl (Mary Teresa)Richards
Born 3 November 1867, Boston, Massachusetts; died 13 August 1906
Wrote under: John Oliver Hobbes
Daughter of John M. and Laura Arnold Richards; married Reginald W. Craigie, 1887
Born into a respectable Bostonian family, Pearl Richards Craigie was educated by private tutors in America and at schools in Paris and London. Most of Craigie's life was spent in Europe, and her writing reflects her familiarity with European culture. Although she returned frequently to the U.S. for visits, Craigie never took up residence.
With the publication of Some Emotions and a Moral in 1891, Craigie embarked on a 15-year literary career that ended abruptly with her death at the age of thirty-eight. Her plays were performed at many British theaters, including the St. James in London. But although Craigie's writings were popular, they elicited negative comments from the literary critics of her time. One major complaint was that she imitated the literary style of George Meredith, an author whose influence she acknowledged.
One reason for the popularity of Craigie's writings was their continuity of theme, setting, and purpose. In more than 25 novels, dramas, and travelogues, Craigie adhered to one basic formula. Her stage is the French chateau, English castle, or London home. Her characters are wealthy, influential, and intellectual—the men are virile, but foolish; the women beautiful, but cunning. Craigie's purpose was always the same: to illustrate how wealthy, influential, and intellectual people initially lose themselves in romantic games of love, but in the end discover truth. Craigie believed that through the maze of love, self-actualization occurred: "The passion of love invariably drives men and women to an extreme step in one direction or another. It will send some to cloister, some to tribune, some to the stage, some to heroism, some to crime, and all to their natural calling."
Craigie created several types of women characters which she used over and over in her plays and novels. One type is beautiful, self-indulgent, and jealous; her polar opposite is unmarried, homely, and intelligent: "theology was her recreation," Craigie wrote, "discrete; coldblooded." Usually a third woman, older and more mature, functions as a mediator between these two types: she has the dignity, self-confidence, and wisdom that comes with age. Sometimes this character might be male, as in The Bishop's Move. In this play it is the bishop who, through gentle manipulation, is able to untangle the situation of an older woman falling in love with an insecure younger man.
This pattern of discovering truth through love can be found throughout Craigie's work. In The School for Saints (1897) and its sequel Robert Orange (1899) an up-and-coming politician discovers that his wife was married to another man for five years of their marriage. What action should the politician now take? In The School for Saints he continues living with his wife; in RobertOrange, he leaves her and his political career for religious sanctuary. Craigie's theme is again repeated: through trials and tribulations Robert Orange discovers his destiny.
Craigie was one of the many women writers who captured the popular imagination at the turn of the century. She drew attention away from prevailing social tensions and created a world of unthreatening romantic escapades.
The Sinner's Comedy (1892). A Study in Temptations (1893). The Gods, Some Mortals and Lord Wickenham (1894). A Bundle of Life (1894). The Herb-Moon, a Fantasia (1896). The Ambassador (1898). A Repentance (1899). The Wisdom of the Wise (1900). The Serious Wooing, a Heart's History (1901). Tales About Temperaments (1902). The Vineyard (1903). Love and the Soul Hunters (1903). Imperial India, Letters from the East (1903). Letters from a Silent Study (1904). The Science of Life (1904). The Artist's Life (1904). The Flutes of Pan, a Romance (1905). The Dream and the Business (1906). Tales (1909).
Richards, J. M., The Life of John Oliver Hobbes Told in Her Correspondence (1911).
Catholic Encyclopedia (1914). NCAB
Catholic World 84.
—M. COLLEEN MCDANNELL