Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Mackarness, Matilda Anne

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MACKARNESS, Mrs. MATILDA ANNE (1826–1881), authoress, born in 1826, was younger daughter of James Robinson Planché [q. v.] and of Elizabeth St. George. From an early age Miss Planché wrote novels and moral tales for children. As a novelist she took Dickens for her model. In 1845 appeared ‘Old Joliffe,’ and in the next year ‘A Sequel to Old Joliffe.’ In 1849 she published ‘A Trap to Catch a Sunbeam,’ a brightly written little tale with a moral, and it is on this production that her reputation chiefly rests. It was composed some three years before the date of publication, and has gone through forty-two editions, the last appearing in 1882, and has been translated into many foreign languages, including Hindustani. On 21 Dec. 1852 Miss Planché married, at Holy Trinity Church, Brompton, the Rev. Henry S. Mackarness, brother of John Fielder Mackarness [q. v.], bishop of Oxford, and of George R. Mackarness, bishop of Argyll and the Isles, and she thereupon settled at Dymchurch, Hythe, the first parish of which her husband had charge. They afterwards went to Ash-next-Sandwich, Kent, where Mackarness was vicar, until his death on 26 Dec. 1868. He had left very slender provision for his widow and her seven children; four others had died in infancy. Mrs. Mackarness took up her residence with her father first at Chelsea, and afterwards at Clapham. In spite of ill-health she continued writing till her death on 6 May 1881 at Margate. She was buried beside her husband in Ash churchyard. She possessed considerable musical talent.

Besides the books already mentioned she wrote: 1. ‘Only,’ 1849. 2. ‘A Merry Christmas,’ 1850. 3. ‘Dream Chintz,’ 1851. 4. ‘Cloud with the Silver Lining,’ 1851. 5. ‘House on the Rock,’ 1852. 6. ‘Influence,’ 1853. 7. ‘Star in the Desert,’ 1853. 8. ‘Thrift, Hints for Cottage Housekeeping,’ 1855. 9. ‘Sibert's Wold,’ 1856. 10. ‘Ray of Light,’ 1857. 11. ‘Coming Home,’ 1858. 12. ‘Golden Rule,’ 1859. 13. ‘Amy's Kitchen,’ 1860. 14. ‘Minnie's Love,’ 1860. 15. ‘When we were Young and other Stories,’ 1860. 16. ‘Little Sunshine,’ 1861. 17. ‘Coraline, or After many Days,’ 1862. 18. ‘Guardian Angel,’ 1864. 19. ‘The Naughty Girl of the Family,’ 1865. 20. ‘Charades,’ 1866. 21. ‘A Village Idol,’ 1866. 22. ‘Example better than Precept,’ 1867. 23. ‘Climbing the Hill,’ 1868. 24. ‘Granny's Spectacles,’ 1869. 25. ‘Married and Settled,’ 1870. 26. ‘Children's Sunday Album of Short Stories,’ 1870. 27. ‘Old Saws new Set,’ 1871. 28. ‘A Peerless Wife,’ a novel, 1871. 29. ‘A Mingled Yarn,’ a novel, 1872. 30. ‘Marion Lee's Good Work,’ 1873. 31. ‘Sweet Flowers,’ 1873. 32. ‘Children of the Olden Time,’ 1874. 33. ‘Tell Mamma,’ 1874. 34. ‘Wild Rose and other Tales,’ 1874. 35. ‘Snowdrop and other Tales,’ 1874. 36. ‘Only a Little Primrose,’ 1874. 37. ‘Rosebud Tales,’ 1874. 38. ‘Pearls restrung, stories from the Apocrypha,’ 1878. 39. ‘Only a Penny; a Moral Tale for Children,’ 1878. 40. ‘Dawn of the Morning,’ 1879. 41. ‘Only a Dog,’ 1879. 42. ‘A Woman without a Head,’ 1892, published from a manuscript which had been lost for twelve years. She also contributed to the ‘Magnet Stories’ (1860–2), wrote a collection of ‘Ballad Stories’ for the ‘Girl's Own Paper,’ edited ‘The Young Lady's Book’ (1876), and edited and contributed several stories to a publication called ‘Lights and Shadows’ (1879). Some of her tales were collected and published as the ‘Sunbeam Series.’

[Allibone, Suppl. ii. 1048; Athenæum, 1881, i. 720–1; Planché's Recollections, ii. 149; information supplied by Mrs. Mackarness's daughter; Brit. Mus. Cat.]

E. L.