Ashton, Helen (1891–1958)

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Ashton, Helen (1891–1958)

British novelist. Born Helen Rosaline Ashton on October 18, 1891, in London, England; died in 1958; daughter of Arthur J. (king's counsel) and Emma (Burnie) Ashton; sister of Leigh Ashton (director of the Victoria and Albert Museum); educated at London University; earned a medical degree from London University, but largely applied her medical knowledge to her writing, which included 26 novels; married Arthur Edward North Jordon (a lawyer), in 1927.

Selected works:

Pierrot in Town (1913); Almain (1914); A Lot of Talk (1927); Doctor Serocold (1930); Mackerel Sky (1931); (with Katherine Davies) I Had a Sister (1937); William and Dorothy (1938); Yeoman's Hospital (1944); Parson Austen's Daughter (1949).

Helen Ashton grew up in London, Stockton, and Wiltshire. Her father Arthur Ashton held the posts of king's counsel and recorder of Manchester before attaining the bench as judge of appeal on the Isle of Man. Helen had a privileged though relatively normal childhood, with aspirations in medicine that first led her to work as a volunteer nurse during World War I. Following her service, she completed an M.B. and a B.Ch. (equivalent of an American M.D.) at London University and took the role of house physician at the Great Ormond Street Children's Hospital in London.

Though Ashton's marriage in 1927 to barrister Arthur Jordan ended thoughts of a medical career, it did not impede her writing. After seeing her first novel Pierrot in Town published by age 22, she continued to write novels and fictionalized biographies, which would total 26 books by the end of her career. Applying her medical background to books such as Doctor Serocold (1930), Ashton received greater public reception than she did with an imagined account of Jane Austen 's life in Parson Austen's Daughter (1949). Ashton and Jordan moved to Gloucestershire but enjoyed spending holidays in Ireland, where they went trout fishing. Ashton died in 1958. She was 66 years old.

Crista Martin , Boston, Massachusetts

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Ashton, Helen (1891–1958)

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