Winter, John Strange (1856–1911)

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Winter, John Strange (1856–1911)

British novelist . Name variations: Henrietta Stannard; Mrs. Arthur Stannard; Henrietta Palmer; (pseudonym) Violet Whyte. Born Henrietta Elizabeth Vaughan Palmer on January 13, 1856, in York, England; died from injuries suffered during an accident on December 13, 1911, in Putney, London, England; daughter of Henry Vaughan Palmer (a rector and former artillery officer) and Emily Catherine (Cowling) Palmer; educated at Bootham House School, York; married Arthur Stannard (a civil engineer), in 1884; children: one son, three daughters.

Wrote over 100 novels and various stories about military life, including Regimental Legends (1883), Bootles' Baby: A Story of the Scarlet Lancers (1885), Army Society (1886), Pluck (1886), Mignon's Husband (1887), Beautiful Jim of the Blankshire Regiment (1888), He Went for a Soldier (1890), A Soldier's Children (1892), That Mrs. Smith (1893), Grip (1896), A Summer Jaunt (1899); began to contribute short fiction to periodicals (1875); founded magazine Golden Gates (1891), later renamed Winter's Weekly, suspended publication (1895); active in writers' societies; served as president of Society of Women Journalists (1901–03).

A popular novelist and successful journalist, John Strange Winter was born Henrietta Eliza Vaughan Palmer in York, England, in 1856, the daughter of an officer in the Royal Artillery who later became rector of St. Margaret's in York. She began her professional writing career at age 18, by contributing a number of short stories and serialized novels to the Family Herald under the pseudonym Violet Whyte in the mid-1870s. A decade later she published several novels, including Cavalry Sketches (1881) and Regimental Legends (1883). Many of her works deal with the life of a military family; Winter was descended from a long line of officers, including her father, and she had grown up hearing stories of life in the military. She published these works under the pseudonym John Strange Winter, considered more appropriate to their masculine subject matter, and kept this pen name for the rest of her life.

In 1884, the 28-year-old writer married Arthur Stannard, a civil engineer, with whom she would have three children. The year following her marriage saw Winter earn national prominence with Bootles' Baby: A Story of the Scarlet Lancers, which drew praise even from such critical luminaries as British philosopher John Ruskin due to what he deemed to be her accurate portrayal of the character of British soldiers. The novel, one of over 100 penned by Winter, was later adapted into a play. Other popular books include Beautiful Jim of the Blankshire Regiment (1888), That Mrs. Smith (1893), and Grip (1896).

In 1891, Winter founded her own magazine, Golden Gates, which was renamed Winter's Weekly in 1892, and served as that publication's editor for three years. Her election to the presidencies of the Writers' Club in 1892 and the Society of Women Journalists in 1901 attested to her sense of professionalism regarding her journalistic career, although she was equally devoted to her family. In 1896, both her husband and youngest daughter were ill, and the family moved to Dieppe, France, a port and resort city on the English Channel. Her residence there provided the settings for many of her works written during this time. Winter's diverse interests included passionate care for animals and a fascination with women's toiletries, grooming, and dress. Fifteen years later, she died while on a visit to London at the age of 55, the result of an accident. While she earned a good living through her writing, she invested money in a women's toiletries business late in her career, and left behind only £500 at her death.


Buck, Claire, ed. The Bloomsbury Guide to Women's Literature. NY: Prentice Hall, 1992.

Kunitz, Stanley J., ed. British Authors of the Nineteenth Century. NY: H.W. Wilson, 1936.

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

Pamela Shelton , freelance writer, Avon, Connecticut