Goudge, Elizabeth (1900–1984)

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Goudge, Elizabeth (1900–1984)

British novelist and children's writer. Born April 24, 1900, in Wells, Somerset, England; died on April 1, 1984, in Peppard Common near Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire, England; daughter of Henry Leighton Goudge (Regius Professor of Divinity, Oxford University) and Ida de Beauchamp (Collenette) Goudge; tutored at home; attended boarding school in South-bourne in Hampshire; attended Reading University Art School for two years; never married; no children.


Island Magic (Coward, 1934); The Middle Window (Duckworth, 1935); A City of Bells (Coward, 1936); (short stories) A Pedlar's Pack (Coward, 1937); Towers in the Mist (Coward, 1938); Three Plays (contains "Suomi," "The Brontës of Haworth," and "Fanny Burney," Duckworth, 1939); (short stories) The Sister of the Angels (Coward, 1939); Smoky House (Coward, 1940); The Bird in the Tree (Coward, 1940); The Well of the Star (Coward, 1941); (juvenile) The Blue Hills (Coward, 1942); The Castle on the Hill (Coward, 1942); Ikon on the Wall (Duckworth, 1943); Green Dolphin Street (Coward, 1944, published in England as Green Dolphin Country, Hodder & Stoughton, 1944); (juvenile) The Little White Horse (University of London Press, 1946); The Elizabeth Goudge Reader (Coward, 1946, published in England as At the Sign of the Dolphin: An Elizabeth Goudge Anthology, Hodder & Stoughton, 1947); Songs and Verses (Duckworth, 1947); (juvenile) Henrietta's House (University of London Press, 1947); Pilgrim's Inn (Coward, 1948, published in England as The Herb of Grace, Hodder & Stoughton, 1948); (short stories) Make Believe (Duckworth, 1949); Gentian Hill (Coward, 1949); The Reward of Faith, and Other Stories (Duckworth, 1950); (juvenile) The Valley of Song (University of London Press, 1951); God So Loved the World (Coward, 1951); White Wings: Collected Short Stories (Duckworth, 1952); The Heart of the Family (Coward 1953); The Rosemary Tree (Coward, 1956); The Eliots of Damerosehay (Hodder & Stoughton, 1957); The White Witch (Coward, 1958); My God and My All: The Life of St. Francis of Assisi (Coward, 1959, published in England as Saint Francis of Assisi, Duckworth, 1959); The Dean's Watch (Coward, 1960); The Scent of Water (Coward, 1963); (editor) A Book of Comfort (Coward, 1964); (juvenile) Linnets and Valerians (Coward, 1964); Three Cities of Bells: Wells, Oxford, Ely (Hodder & Stoughton, 1965); (editor) A Diary of Prayer (Coward, 1966); A Christmas Book (Coward, 1967); (editor) A Book of Peace (M. Joseph, 1967); (illus. by Richard Kennedy) I Saw Three Ships (Coward, 1969); The Child from the Sea (Coward, 1970); The Lost Angel (Coward, 1971); The Joy of the Snow: An Autobiography (Coward, 1974); (editor) A Book of Faith (Coward, 1976); (anthology, edited by Muriel Grainger) Pattern of People (Coward, 1976).

Elizabeth Goudge, whose writing career did not bloom until she was well into her 30s, was born in 1900 in Wells, Somerset, England, the only child of the principal of a theological college, who later became a professor of divinity

at Oxford. As a child, she delighted in the stories told to her by her invalid mother, and also did some storytelling of her own in a magazine she produced monthly with the neighborhood children. Her early education at the hands of a governess was pleasant enough but lacked somewhat in the basics. "When I was fourteen," she later recalled, "my parents suddenly discovered to their horror that their only child knew nothing at all except the dates of the Kings of England and the multiplication table." She was immediately rushed off to boarding school, after which she returned home determined to become a writer. When her first published volume of fairy tales failed to sell, Goudge studied art for two years at Reading College. She returned home and taught art and design before deciding to once more pursue her earlier inclination to become a writer. She began with plays, of which only one was produced; The Brontës of Haworth had a single London performance in 1932. At a publisher's suggestion, she tried novels, writing three before a nervous breakdown brought her budding career to a temporary halt.

Following her father's death in 1939, Goudge went to live with her mother in Devon, where she wrote her best-selling Green Dolphin Street (1944), a historical romance which won a literary Guild Award and was filmed in 1947. This, and two subsequent novels, Gentian Hill (1949) and The Child from the Sea (1970), comprise the best of her historical novels. Child from the Sea tells the story of Lucy Walter , mistress and possibly secret wife of Charles II. After her mother's death, Goudge moved to Peppard Common, near Henley-on-Thames, where she remained for over 20 years.

Elizabeth Goudge is also known for her children's fiction, notably The Little White Horse (1946), which won the Carnegie Medal, and The Bird in the Tree (1940), her own personal favorite. She produced over 40 titles during her career, including novels, short stories, children's books, and nonfiction religious works. Both her children's and adult fiction are marked by a sense of place and history, and her later fiction, such as The Scent of Water (1963), and her autobiography The Joy of the Snow (1974), reflect her strong Christian faith. The author died on April 1, 1984, just shy of her 84th birthday.


Commire, Anne. Something About the Author. Vol. 2. Detroit, MI: Gale Research.

Shattock, Joanne. The Oxford Guide to British Women Writers. Oxford and NY: Oxford University Press, 1993.

related media:

Green Dolphin Street (140 min. film), starred Lana Turner , Van Heflin, Donna Reed , Dame May Whitty, Gladys Cooper, Gigi Perreau , directed by Victor Saville, screenplay by Samson Raphaelson, produced by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1947.

Barbara Morgan , Melrose, Massachusetts

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