Stannard, Henrietta Eliza Vaughan (DNB12)

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STANNARD, Mrs. HENRIETTA ELIZA VAUGHAN, writing under the pseudonym of 'John Strange Winter' (1856-1911), novelist, bom on 13 Jan. 1856 in Trinity Lane, York, was only daughter of Henry Vaughan Palmer, rector of St. Margaret's, York, by his wife Emily Catherine Cowling. Her father had been an officer in the Royal Artillery before taking orders, and came of several generations of soldiers. Her great-great-great-grandmother was Hannah Pritchard [q. v.] the actress. Henrietta was educated at Bootham House School, York. In 1874 she began her career as a novelist by writing under the pseudonym of 'Violet Whyte' for the 'Family Herald.' Her connection with that journal lasted for ten years, and she contributed to it 42 short stories issued as supplements, besides many long serials. In 1881 appeared 'Cavaliy Life,' a collection of regimental sketches, and in 1883 'Regimental Legends.' Both bore the name of 'John Strange Winter,' a character in one of the tales in the former volume. The publisher refused to bring out the books under a feminine pseudonym. The public assumed the author to be a cavalry officer. She retained the name for literary and business purposes through life.

Miss Palmer married at Fulford, York, on 26 Feb. 1884, Arthur Stannard, A.M.I.C.E., and had issue one son and three daughters. She settled in London and continued her literary labours. In 1885 'Booties' Baby: a story of the Scarlet Lancers,' the tale that assured her popularity, appeared in the 'Graphic' Two million copies were sold within ten years of its first publication. Tales of a similar character, with military life for their setting, followed in rapid succession until her death. There are 112 entries to her name in the British Museum Catalogue. She found an admirer of her work in Ruskin, whom she visited at Sandgate in 1888. Ruskin wrote of ’John Strange Winter' as 'the author to whom we owe the most finished and faithful rendering ever yet given of the character of the British soldier' )Daily Telegraph, 17 Jan. 1888; cf. also Ruskin's Letters, 1909, ii. 592-3). For some time Ruskin and John Strange Winter constantly corresponded.

In 1891 she started a penny weekly magazine, 'Golden Gates'; in 1892 the title was altered to 'Winter's Weekly,' and so continued until 1895. In 1896 the health of her husband and of her youngest daughter made residence at the seaside imperative, and Dieppe became her home until 1901, when she returned to London, retaining a house at Dieppe for summer residence until 1909. She wrote enthusiastic articles about Dieppe which greatly increased its popularity. The municipality presented her with a diamond ring in recognition of her services to the town.

Mrs. Stannard wrote vivaciously, and sketched with lightness of touch the personality of the British officer as he was at the end of the purchase system. Well known in journalistic circles, she was first president of the Writers' Club (1892), and was president of the Society of Women Journalists (1901-3). She was intensely fond of animals. Interesting herself in matters concerning women's dress and personal appearance, she towards the end of her life compounded and sold a number of toilet preparations for the hair and complexion which found wide acceptance.

Mrs. Stannard died, from complications following an accident, on 13 Dec. 1911 at York House, Hurlingham, Putney. She was cremated and the ashes interred at Woking crematorium. Notwithstanding her many activities she left only 547Z. A crayon drawing by Lionel Smythe (1887) and an etched portrait by Batley (1889) are in possession of Mr. Arthur Stamiard; a pastel portrait (1891) by Mrs. Jopling is owned by the artist.

[The Times, 15 Dec. 1911; Daily Chronicle, 15 Dec. 1911; Helen C. Black's Notable Women Authors of the Day, 1893; Men and Women of the Time, 1899; Allibone, Suppl. II, 1891 ; private information.]

E. L.