Charlotte M. Yonge
Many famous writers and artists were not so during their lifetime, but became more popular or famous after their death. Quite the opposite with Charlotte Yonge. In fact, few have heard or even know of her now. During her lifetime she was well-known and her books were read and admired by Louisa May Alcott, Lord Tennyson, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Lewis Carroll, and many others. She wrote more than 200 books which includes school books, religious works, historical novels, and tales of everyday life which won her the hearts of many young readers during her time. Young Folks History of Rome, History of England and History of France are among several great books for homeschoolers! See quote below, found in an old out-of-print, short story written by Louisa May Alcott, discussing the value of reading good books.
"I would take Alice's advice and read up a little now; it's so nice to know useful things, and be able to find help and comfort in good books when trouble comes, as Ellen Montgomery and Fleda did, and Ethel, and the other girls in Miss Yonge's stories," said Eva, earnestly, remembering how much the efforts of those natural little heroines had helped her in her own struggles for self-control and the cheerful bearing of the burdens which come to all. "
The quote above is found from a book published in the late 1800's. If they thought such books were of high moral content, what would we think of them today considering the moral decline of our time?
Yonge's stories reflect everyday life during the Victorian era. Therefore, they reflect the introduction of the education of women and their status in the community. Even with the increase of the high school education of women and with the increase of women's colleges, Charlotte Yonge maintained all through her career that the best education for young women was Home Education, as she herself had been taught by her parents. Social customs changed rapidly during her time and in 1889, she became a member of the Board of Governors of a new girls' high school in Winchester, England. One writer quotes her as being the embarrassed guest of honor when the school celebrated the founding of the Charlotte Yonge Scholarship, awarded every year to a girl university bound. She was suspicious of the methods and results of High School education and was unhappy about the effect of schools on either sex. In a personal letter to her friend Emily Davies she stated that she had " ... decided objections to bringing large masses of girls together. " and that she also disapproved of the over-emphasis on examinations and prizes in High Schools, which she realized would encourage competitiveness. *
It is written of her work that the purpose of education and everything else was to .. " the Glory of God " . She didn't write stories for the sake of religion or moral teachings, but puts those things into her books being a natural way of life during that time. The importance of self-discipline, high morals and character were a must. Without such, one would be considered very vulgar, ignorant and unlearned. Her books were written to appeal to a wider age range, maybe because it was a very general family habit to read aloud daily. Her excellent character sketches are what stood out and made her famous. She used a fictional character to illustrate a principle, making that character seem real and one whom readers could identify with and relate to, while also easily remembering the principles taught.
Many of the school text books she wrote were originally written by others and she edited them. The school books are out of print. However, some of her stories can be found in your local library system. The Heir of Redcliff is probably one of her most famous writings and is available in a paperback version.
The book regarding the heroines referenced above is from one of her books, "The Daisy Chain".
A Book of Golden Deeds (1864) Short Stories from many lands describing heroic deeds as Miss Yonge describes of "forgetting self, denying self and self-sacrifice as the noblest of deeds."
Dove in the Eagle's Nest, Neither this book nor THE DAISY CHAIN (see review below), both by Charlotte Yonge, passes the "read one page" or "read one chapter" test. After struggling
through the first few chapters of this book, it finally became exciting and
captivating with a similar setting to that of THE MAN IN THE IRON MASK by
Alexandre Dumas. DOVE IN THE EAGLE'S NEST is about a young widow's lonely struggle to raise two children by herself, from their infancy to manhood. Her goal was to train them to take their places as heirs and lords, according to God's will. She faced great challenges and trying circumstances in a medieval castle.
This engaging story details the heroine's life and her walk of faith in raising her children, how God honored her prayers, efforts, and faithfulness by bringing about a complete change in the family's reputation from a long, generational line of thieves and tyrants to respectable, honest nobles.
Daisy Chain is the story of a large family of 11 members. The main character, Edith May, is one of the daughters of the May family. In her struggles and accomplishments, she is always striving to work with pure motives and a pure heart. There are quite a few unexpected events and unexpected conclusions to circumstances.
After a slow start in the first few chapters, the book quickly becomes engaging and hard to put down. A far better read than LITTLE WOMEN & LITTLE MEN. It is not just a book 'about girls' nor it is just 'for girls'. It has equally interesting content regarding the five or six boys of the May family.
There is such a strong emphasis on 'issues of the heart' for each of the characters in this book. The characters often seek advice from their family and close friends and they openly question each other's motives. They challenge each other in love and with grace. Charlotte Yonge writes emphatically of morals and values inserting quite a bit of Scripture in the characters' conversations.
As in many of Yonge's books, Before each chapter, she includes a quote of either some literary work or scripture as it relates to that particular section of her story. The author's worldview is that of 1800-1900 England and Catholicism. Good topics of discussion with your child would be concerning one of the characters-- of his fear of leaving home on a ship before his confirmation. In their minds, regardless of their heart or their acceptance of Jesus as their Savior, there was a fear of hell and rejection from Heaven if indeed death were to occur before the Church's ritual of confirmation.
It is clearly obvious where Louisa May Alcott received inspiration for her book, LITTLE WOMEN and possibly LITTLE MEN. Little Women is almost a replica of this Charlotte Yonge book. However, THE DAISY CHAIN is a far better book! It contains far better morals and values that anything Alcott has in print.
Most impressive in regards to both The Daisy Chain and Dove in the Eagle's Nestis the freedom the characters have in the expression of their hearts and feelings. They were so open and transparent to one another.
Both DOVE IN THE EAGLE'S NEST and THE DAISY CHAIN were very enjoyable books. The Bible is the only perfect book and with it as our standard, all 'human writers' fall short. All books will have some points we do not necessarily agree with or we may feel that a certain word was not necessary to be included.
A visitor contributed:
Charlotte Yonge I think is much the best of the sectarian Victorian children's writers; her most famous book is "The Daisy Chain". Deeply and pervasively High Church Anglican, the book nevertheless is distinguished by strong female characters, a heroine who manages to get a school started and a church built in a rural slum, and very lively dialogue. "The Daisy Chain" is mentioned rather condescendingly in one of E. Nesbit's splendid children's books ("The Wouldbegoods") and Jo in "Little Women" is found reading Yonge's romance "The Heir of Redclyffe" and crying over it. "The Daisy Chain" I think must have been a strong influence on "Little Women"--its main characters are surnamed May (Alcott's of course are surnamed March), the ardour and rivalry between siblings is drawn in a very convincing and realistic way, and the tension between the clever woman's ambitions and "home duties" is one of the central themes of the book, as it is in Alcott.
Another visitor adds:
"She grew up in a family that stressed sacrifice, charity, moral guidance and quiet - values she cherished until her death." The list of the titles exceed 120, stretching from 1839 on to 1901. I remember reading "The Dove in the Eagle's Net" and feeling the oppressive and violent atmosphere of the middle ages.
Yonge's Books on CD- Titles list:
A Book of Golden Deeds
A Modern Telemachus
A Reputed Changeling, or Three 7th Years Two Centuries Ago
A Story of the Captivity of Mary of Scotland
A Tale of the War of Roses, Grisly Grisell;The Laidly Lady of Whitburn
Abbeychurch or, Self-Control and Self-Conceit
Beechcroft at Rockstone
Cameos from English History, From Rollo to Edward II (900-1329)
Dynevor Terrace or, the Clue of Life, Vol. #1
Dynevor Terrace or, the Clue of Life, Vol. #2
Friarswood Post Office
Heartsease or Brother's Wife
Henrietta's Wish or Domineering
How to Teach the New Testament
History of France
Lady Hester or Ursula's Narrative
Life of John Coleridge Patteson, Missionary Bishop of the Melanesian Islands
Little Lucy's Wonderful Globe
Love and Life, An Old Story in Eighteenth Century Costume
Magnum Bonum or, Mother Carey's Brood
Modern Broods or Developments Unlooked For
My Young Alcides, a Faded Photograph
Pillars of the House
Pioneers and Founders or, Recent Workers in the Mission Field
Scenes and Characters
Stray Pearls, Memoirs of Margaret de Ribaumont, Viscountess of Bellaise
The Armourer's Prentice
The Caged Lion
The Chaplet of Pearls or, The White and Black Ribaumont
The Chosen People, Compendium of Church History for School Children
The Clever Woman of the Family
The Daisy Chain or, Aspirations
The Dove in the Eagle's Nest
The Heir of Redclyffe
The Herd Boy and His Hermit
The Lances of Lynwood
The Little Duke
The Long Vacation
The Pigeon Pie
The Prince and the Page
The Strokesley Secret
The Three Brides
The Trial or, More Links of the Daisy Chain
The Two Guardians or, Home in This World
The Two Sides of the Shield
The Young Step-Mother or, A Chronicle of Mistakes
Two Penniless Princesses
Under the Storm or Steadfast's Change
Young Folks History of England
Young Folks History of Rome-- All this plus free read aloud and print resources for only $14.99!
Over 50 books in this collection of Yonge's most popular works. A quick and easy accessible library. Print or read from your computer without using disk space, memory and no need to be online. The CD also comes with a free software that reads the books aloud to you with adjustable speed for clarity and choice of voices. Fineprint software is also included to save ink, paper, and print into booklets if you choose. All books are stored in txt files, making the font style and size adjustable to your needs.
For Charlotte Yonge's Books in print, paperback and hardback versions, click on this Amazon Link for a list of titles available.
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