British Author and Rock Climber
Born 1880 Died 1949

Emily Hilda Young was born on the 21st March 1880 at Whitley Bay in Northumberland. She was the fourth of seven children (six daughters and one son) born to William Michael, a partner in the shipbroking business of Simpson, Spencer and Young, and his wife Frances Jane Venning. Emily was educated at Gateshead High School until the age of ten before being sent as a boarder to Penrhos College in Colwyn Bay, when the family moved south to Surrey.

In 1902 she married John Arthur Daniell, who was an old schoolfriend of Harold Sharp, a neighbour of the Young family in Surrey who had married her sister Margery. Daniell was a solicitor and a partner in his father's Bristol legal practice, and the couple set up home together, living at addresses in Redland and Westbury Park before settling in the top floor flat at 2 Saville Place in Clifton. During this time Emily became a supporter of the suffragette movement, spent her time reading both classical and modern philosophy and published a series of three unremarkable novels.

During World War I she worked both as a stable groom and in a munitions factory. Although her husband had been declared medically unfit to serve when he volunteered in 1914, he was called up in 1916 and was later killed at the battle of Ypres in 1917. Following his death she moved to London in 1918, where took up residence in the household of Ralph B. Henderson who taught at Aleyn's School at Dulwich in London, where he later became headmaster in 1920.

Emily had earlier been introduced to Ralph Henderson by her husband (like Harold Sharp he had been at Bristol Grammar School with her husband). Both Ralph and Emily were keen rock climbers, an interest that Emily had developed whilst she was at school in Wales. They certainly went climbing together in Wales together in 1906 and at some point their shared passion for rock climbing developed into a different kind of passion altogether, despite the fact that they were both married.

When Emily lives with Henderson from 1918 onwards at a variety of addresses and although for propriety's sake she had her own separate accomodation, it seems that she and Henderson's wife Beatrice lived together in a perfectly amicable, if very secret, ménage a trois. Beatice played the part of the headmaster's wife, while 'Mrs Daniell" kept in the background using her honorary position of librarian at Alleyn's to excuse her presence. Neither did Beatrice object that Ralph and Emily spent the summers rock climbing together in Wales, Switzerland or Italy. In fact Emily was a very accomplished climber and according to Captain Grenfell "never woman climbed like this woman".

with the encouragement of Ralph Henderson Emily returned to writing in the 1920s and wrote series of eight novels, seven of which were firmly located in her old home of Clifton, Bristol (which appeared in her books as 'Upper Radstowe'). The first of these was The Bridge Dividing (later retitled as The Misses Mallett ) in 1922; the original title showing her fondness for using the Clifton Suspension Bridge which spans the Avon Gorge as a metaphorical device. Her novels featured domestic settings enlived by "lcoholic fathers, deceitful stepmothers, violent death and abusive marriages". Her reputation was established with Miss Mole which won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for fiction, and this and her later work sold well and was likened by some contemporaries to that of Jane Austen. She also wrote two children's books and a number of short stories which appeared in such periodicals as Time and Tide and Good Housekeeping.

When Ralph Henderson retired from Aleyn's School in 1940, his wife Beatrice set off for Weston-Super-Mare, whilst Ralph and Emily spent some of her book royalties on purchasing a house at Prior's Close, Bradford-on-Avon in Wiltshire, which is were she died of lung cancer on the 8th August 1949.

Like a number of succesful and popular novellists of the interwar period, her work dated afterwards and was soon forgotten. The BBC produced a four part dramatisation of Miss Mole as 'Hannah' in 1980 which re-awakened some interest in her work and and a number of her later novels were re-issued by Virago and continue to be available. in 1992 the Clifton and Hotwells Improvement Society erected a commemorative plaque marking her old home at 2 Saville Place.

Bibliography


REFERENCES

Chiara Briganti and Kathy Mezei, Domestic Modernism, the Interwar Novel, and E. H. Young (2006)
Stella Deen, ‘Young , Emily Hilda (1880–1949)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004
Emily Young http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0949502/bio
Famous People of Clifton http://www.cliftononline.net/f_people_preview3.asp
Michael Pascoe, Bristol’s Gentle Satirist: E H Young http://www.brbooks.co.uk/features.php?featureId=6

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