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“I took to going off for long tramps by myself over the fields and the beech-clad hills” – Frieda Le Pla, deaf-blind author

H Dominic W Stiles5 May 2017

le plaFrieda Le Pla, (or more correctly Winifred Jessie Le Pla) was born on November the 14th, 1892 in London (see Cripps, 1987, for most of what follows).  Her Dublin born father, Matthew, was of Huguenot descent.  He was a congregationalist minister.  Her mother, who was his second wife, was born in Exeter of Scottish descent.  When she was nearly nine the family moved from Amhurst Rd, Dalston, to Eynsford in Kent, and not long after they went to live in Ealing.  In spring 1904 the family moved to Theale in Berkshire.  There was, Cripps tells us, no suitable local school, so Winifred – Frieda – and her sisters Lillie and Rose were taught by her father in the mornings then were free to wander the local countryside for the remainder of the day.  Her father was it seems rather forward thinking in his theology, and his support for controversial preachers meant that he lost his position, so the family moved again to Beckenham near Gainsborough for six months, then after only six months, they moved on to Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire.

In her book about her experiences, Glimpses into a hidden world,  which is not fully autobiographical but also discusses deaf-blindness more generally and also has contributions by others, Frieda said,

My first period of blindness came when I was about four years old, due to inflammation of the eyes; but it lasted only a few months, and I have no recollection of it myself.  Neither did its effects – a greatly reduced amount of sight in the left eye, and short-sightedness in the right – obtrude themselves on my notice during my childhood, which in the main was a happy one […].  It was not until I was almost twenty-one that inflammation attacked the eyes for the second time, and that the first signs of deafness appeared.
By this time I already had several pupils both for school subjects and music – I had started teaching music when I was sixteen: I was also a teacher in the Sunday-school, and was in the choir of the Beaconsfield Congregational Church, of which my father was Minister, and my mother the organist.  I had also started to learn the organ, with my mother as teacher: and I was in the thick of enthusiastic activities for such movements as the Women’s Suffrage, the campaign against vivisection and other forms of cruelty to animals, and so on.  This was in the autumn of 1913. (Glimpses into a hidden world, p.3)

By 1916 Frieda had to give up teaching, and by 1922 her blindness became ‘total’, although she was able to

see good print and also, of course, go about alone; so I took to going off for long tramps by myself over the fields and the beech-clad hills, with a note-book and a pencil in my pocket in order to jot down ideas for stories, and any notes about the wild folk and plants observed during these expeditions.  The fluctuating character of my hearing made me nervous about meeting humans  lest I should not be able to hear what they said if they spoke to me – another reason for preferring the more unfrequented woods and fields rather than the regions inhabited by humans.

Frieda set about learning Braille, and so was able to work as a writer.  Her big problem was correcting manuscripts, and she tells us that even having had manuscripts checked, some errors still crept in.

After her mother died in 1933, she was fortunate that a friend of hers, Dorothy Wells, a young teacher, became her companion in 1934.  Dorothy had entered an Anglican convent but was not happy there, and seems to have welcomed the chance to help Frieda.  She was to be her support and friend for the next forty-five years (Cripps, p.6).

La PlaFrieda died in March, 1978, after a short illness.  Dorothy survived her, dying on the 15th of June, 1980.  If you read through old copies on the British Deaf Times you will come across a number of her articles, particularly in the 1940s.

Cripps, Vera E., Frieda and Dorothy, a Story of Courage and Devotion (1987)

Abrahams, Pat, Light out of Darkness, Hearing 1971, 26 137-9

Deaf-blind authoress. British Deaf Times, 1932, Nov-Dec, p.127

Le Pla, Frieda, Glimpses into a hidden world, 1949.

1901 Census – Class: RG13; Piece: 216; Folio: 53; Page: 33

1911 Census – Class: RG14; Piece: 7811; Schedule Number: 152

“The difficulty with which she then spoke on her fingers … added to her power of expression” Jessie E. Beatrice Ruddock

H Dominic W Stiles7 April 2017

It is not always easy to find women with a connection to Deaf history until the late 19th and early 20th century.  Before that, it seems to me, men predominated in both deaf education and in Deaf society and institutions.  Jessie Eva Beatrice Ruddock was one of the young women who changed that in the early decades of the 20th century.

Born in St. Margaret’s on Thames (Isleworth) on the 19th of June, 1889, Jessie was the daughter of a civil servant, Montague Grevile Ruddock (already retired in 1891 aged only 52), and his wife Amy.  Jessie was educated at a private school, South Croydon College, and then when her family moved into London, she attended a school in Kensington (Fry, 1913, from which most of the following comes).  She then had an attack of influenza aged thirteen,

which left inflammation of both ears, necessitating mastoid operations, and causing a total loss of her hearing.  For three weary years Miss Ruddock lay very ill, cared for by a noble mother and sister. Few can imagine the agony of mind experienced by her and her relatives when, after being unconscious for twelve days, it began to dawn on her that the song of the nightingale across the road in Kew Gardens would know her not.  The trilling of these beautiful songstresses had previously been her delight.* (ibid)

Her education seemed over, but aged seventeen a friend suggested a career in dispensing.  I wonder if her father had retired early through ill-health as  the children all seem to have gone into some form of employment, and after her father’s death in 1909 her mother ran a boarding house in Kew.

miss ruddockJessie contacted a Dr. Farrar, who offered to coach her, saying her deafness should be no handicap to the work of a dispenser.  Fry tell us that she attended the college, which is now the UCL School of Pharmacy, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. then studied at home until 10 p.m.  “It was jolly at the College; between fifteen and twenty ladies were there, and we attended lectures twice a day.  My chief difficulty was in pronouncing Latin and botanical names.” (ibid)  Of 150 candidates, only 23 passed, including Jessie.  She held three appointments, with a private doctor, at the Royal Maternity Charity of London Outpatients’ Department, and All Saints’ Hospital.  Fry continues, “She yearned for other fields to conquer, however, and ultimately began a course of training as a nurse at Her Majesty’s Hospital, Stepney.”  That ended unfortunately when her father became ill and she gave up work.

In 1913, Maxwell S. Fry wrote an article on Miss J. E. Beatrice Ruddock, for The British Deaf Times.  In 1910 she had written to the secretary of the National Deaf Club, having read about it in the newspapers.  She wished to know if ladies were admitted.  This caused the creation of a ladies section to the club.

Fry was obviously so taken with Miss Ruddock that he really laid it on in his article, recording his impressions when they first met in 1910/11:

Miss Ruddock is lithe of figure, quiet, pleasant and refined.  The difficulty with which she then spoke on her fingers – having scarcely mastered our language – added to her power of expression.

[…]

This brilliant and gifted young lady possesses a delicate sensibility, and a quick perception.  She is one who grasps the significance that lies beneath the surface of things apparently insignificant, and realises the splendour often hidden in simple lives.  Very intelligent, she is possessed of keen instinct.  Rich in so many natural gifts, she might have become a scholar.  withal, it is the unconscious in her that counts.

It must have worked as, dear reader, he married her in 1915, and they had two daughters, Mary Eileen (b.1920), and Kathleen (b.1917).

We also learn from the article that she enjoyed cycling, had played the piano, and went with her brother to watch Fulham play football.  Jessie (or Beatrice as she now seems to have preferred) and her husband later lived in Coventry.  Maxwell Stewart Fry, who deserves a blog post of his own, died in 1943.  I am sure there is much more that could be added about her.  She died aged 90, on the 7th of January, 1980.**

[Note that the 1911 census does not describe here as ‘deaf’.  Also, in the 1891 and 1901 censuses she was named as Jessie Ruddock, but after her father’s death she has become Beatrice in the 1911 census.]

*Fry got the the nightingale sex wrong – as with many songbirds, males sing to impress females as well as establishing territory, e.g. Multiple song features are related to paternal effort in common nightingales

** Thanks, yet again, to Norma McGilp!

Obituary. Late Mr Maxwell Fry, Coventry.  The British Deaf Times, vol 41, 1944, p.9

Fry, M.S., Prominent in the Deaf World.  Miss J.E. Beatrice Ruddock. The British Deaf Times, 1913 p.160-1

1891 Census – Class: RG12; Piece: 1026; Folio: 131; Page: 41; GSU roll: 6096136

1901 Census – Class: RG13; Piece: 50; Folio: 17; Page: 25

1911 Census – Class: RG14; Piece: 3594; Schedule Number: 109

On the unreliability of printed sources – Hannah Pouncey, Deaf and Blind (ca 1832-1913)

H Dominic W Stiles31 March 2017

A while ago I came across a photograph in Ephphatha, the magazine for the missioners to the deaf, edited by W.W. Adamson, A. Macdonald Cuttell and Fred Gilby.  The photograph illustrated here, is of one ‘Hannah Pountney’.  I searched for Hannah high and low, thinking maybe someone had incorrectly transcribed her name in the online family history and census records.  Hannah was proving impossible to track down – until I had the assistance of our top historian friend, @DeafHeritageUK, Norma McGilp.  Unfortunately an error occurred when someone wrote the item that included Hannah’s name, and the fact that she was to get a pension of £10 from the British Deaf and Dumb Association.  Her real name was  Hannah Pouncey (ca. 1832-1913).  I suppose that someone not at the B.D.D.A. meeting when the pension was approved, misread the handwriting of someone who had attended.  The B.D.D.A. minutes say she was, “a deaf and dumb woman, and almost blind, aged 62, named Hannah Pouncey, and residing at Bedale for whom £8.8.0 had already been collected by her relations.”*

Hannah was born in Ripon, in the North Riding of Yorkshire, and died in Crakehall, Bedale which is not too far north of there.  Her parents were George (b. ca. 1802) and Mary (b. ca. 1802), both born in Ripon.  George was a tailor and one of his sons, Thomas (b. ca 1835 in Leeds), was apprenticed to him.  In 1851 they were living in ‘Middle Street’ which seems to have disappeared or changed name, but must be adjacent to Queen Street.  By the 1871 census they had moved to ‘Fairfield Villa’ and George was described as a woollen draper.  Does that mean he was going up in the world?  On that census there is no mention of deafness next to Hannah’s name.  That information relied on both assiduous enumerators and the co-operation of the head of the household, or whoever took their place if they were out.  Hannah was, according to the 1901 census, ‘deaf and dumb from childhood.’  The 1881 census did not note any deafness – but some people would think it a stigma, so reporting of deafness in census returns is not consistent.

As far as I am aware Hannah lived an anonymous and ordinary life, dying in 1913.

As with others previously covered in this blog, I think it is important to commemorate the lives of ordinary people, as well as the clever, successful and influential.  They are all part of the same picture.

Hannah Pouncey

*for which we are indebted again to Norma McGilp.

1851 Census – Class: HO107; Piece: 2281; Folio: 207; Page: 17; GSU roll: 87466-87467

1861 Census – Class: RG 9; Piece: 3196; Folio: 50; Page: 14; GSU roll: 543094

1871 Census – Class: RG10; Piece: 4276; Page: 12; GSU roll: 846969

1881 Census – Class: RG11; Piece: 4318; Folio: 24; Page: 3; GSU roll: 1342030

1901 Census – Class: RG13; Piece: 4598; Folio: 33; Page: 7

1911 Census – Class: RG14; Piece: 29386

 

 

Portraying a Deaf female character – “Not in the Calendar” by Margaret Kennedy

H Dominic W Stiles24 March 2017

Margaret Kennedy (1896-1967) is today best remembered for her 1924 novel, The Constant Nymph.  Her daughter,  Julia Birley, was a novelist, as is her granddaughter, Serena Mackesy.  You can read more about her on Wikipedia and in the Dictionary of National Biography.

In 1964 she published what was to be her final novel, Not in the Calendar.  It seems to be the only one of her novels not to have been reprinted, but it is nevertheless of interest as it centres around the relationship between a Deaf girl call Winsome, later re-named as Wyn, who is the daughter of a kennel man, and one of the daughters of her her father’s wealthy employers, Carrie Knevett.  As far as I could see (without doing major research) Margaret Kennedy did not have any particular connection with deaf people, but if you know otherwise please comment.  In a note at the beginning of the book, she tells us that

I could not have ventured to write this book without the advice and criticism of Miss Edith Whetnall and of Dr Pierre Gorman, Librarian to the Royal National Institute for the Deaf.  I wish to thank them for their great kindness and for the trouble which they took to help me.

5493900361_bcd4cd4256_zImage Smithsonian Institution @ Flickr Commons

Deborah Kent says,

Not in the Calendar is one of those utterly remarkable novels that, for some unaccountable reason, are overlooked and forgotten by critics and the reading public alike.  Published in 1964, just before the women’s movement gained momentum, it is in its quiet way a rallying cry for feminism.  Among the women in Kennedy’s gallery of minor characters are childish, pampered Lallie; Ida the maid, with dreams of rising to a higher station in life; and Daphne, with her unsettling habit of slipping long confessional letters beneath the doors of houseguests. All of them are drawn with affection and understanding, and none relies upon men in her quest for fulfillment. (Kent, p.103)
[…]
In the novels and plays I have examined, Wyn Harper is one of the few disabled women whose life combines professional achievements and the satisfaction of deep and enduring friendship. Furthermore, she is almost alone in her resolution of the conflict between self-acceptance and assimilation into the world of non-disabled people-a conflict few writers even acknowledge. (ibid p.105)

In his 1987 article, Douglas Biklen says,

Kennedy’s Not in the Calendar (1964) reveals the constant negotiations over identity required of people with disabilities and of their allies.  Can Win achieve the status of artist, with her deafness relegated to being a single quality and not an all-defining characteristic?  Can Carrie educate deaf children without being a lady bountiful?  Which social definition of disability will social policy adopt: pity, charity and dependence or independence and self determination?  Or, […] in the modern professionalized service oriented society, is the dominant social policy choice between medicalized dependence and self determination? (Biklen, p.531)

I cannot say this is the sort of novel that would excite me, but it may well be of interest to anyone studying Deaf people in literature, and is perhaps worthy of further examination.

Biklen, Douglas , The culture of policy disability images and their analogues in public policy.  Policy Studies Journal, Vol. 15, Issue 3, March 1987 p. 515–35 DOI: 10.1111/j.1541-0072.1987.tb00727.x

Biklen, D., Schooling Without Labels. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1992. https://muse.jhu.edu/book/9514

Heshusius, Lous, The Arts, Science, and the Study of Exceptionality.  Exceptional Children, Vol. 55, No. I, p. 60-65 http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/001440298805500107

Kent, Deborah, In Search of a Heroine: Images of Women with Disabilities in Fiction and Drama.  In Fine, M. A. A.. Women with Disabilities. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1989. 

McQuilland, Louis J., The creator of “The Constant Nymph.”  The Bookman, (Oct 1925): p. 4-6

Powell, Violet, ‘Kennedy, Margaret [married name Margaret Davies, Lady Davies] (1896–1967)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/34281, accessed 24 March 2017]

Richardson, Joanna, The Constant Novelist A Study of Margaret Kennedy (1896-1967) Violet Powell (Book Review).  The Spectator, London 251.8086 (Jul 2, 1983): 25

On Good Reads

“Why do you sing so loud, aunty,” – Annie Webb-Peploe’s story, Deaf and Dumb

H Dominic W Stiles14 October 2016

Arthur“Why do you sing so loud, aunty,” said Jessie; “I like to hear you sing softly.”

“I want baby to listen to me,” replied her aunt hastily, and she continued her song even louder than before.

“Stupid little Arthur,” said Jessie.

“Poor little Arthur,” said Aunt Amy, with a heavy sigh.

(Deaf and Dumb)

Annie Molyneux, a prolific, if more or less forgotten Victorian author, was born on the 24th of February 1806 (not 1805 as so many bibliographical details say), daughter to John Molyneux (one of a remarkable fifteen children), and a descendant of Thomas Molyneux, who was born in Calais when it was still English.  Thomas settled in Ireland and the family entered politics, with some of his descendants and Annie’s ancestors becoming Irish MPs.  Annie married John Birch Webb, who became the vicar of Weobley in Herefordshire.  In 1866 he took the surname Peploe, so they became the Webb-Peploe’s.  Annie Webb-Peploe, or Webb in the earlier part of her life, is as I say, hardly known now, but if she is read or remembered, it is probably for the book Naomi: or, The last days of Jerusalem (1841), which is a particular genre of ‘conversion’ literature that Annie wrote a number of books on.  The main character is a Jewish woman who becomes a Christian.  It went through a considerable number of editions, including in the U.S.A., and was also translated to Danish in 1892, and German in 1900.  I did not spot any English edition quite that late, but Valman says that it continued to be published to the end of the century.  It might be interesting to draw parallels between her attitude to “the devoted and impenitent Jews” (Naomi, preface, p. v) and the Deaf people in her short story, Deaf and Dumb (uncertain date).  There is an interesting chapter in Valman’s 2009 book (see reference below), that discusses Naomi. Arthur at school

Deaf and Dumb* tells the story of a deaf boy called Arthur, and his sister Jessie who are orphaned as young children.  They live with their aunt who then sends the boy to be educated at the Exeter School.  The boy is at first educated ‘by signs’, then “when he became an intimate of the asylum it was considered time to cultivate his power of speech, which, strange as it may seem to some of our readers, is actually as perfect with those who are called deaf and dumb as with those who have spoken from infancy” (Chapter 2, page 3 – though the pages of the whole book are unnumbered).  She seems to have taken some trouble with the details of education at Exeter, but I am unclear as to what she means about ‘the art of speaking on the fingers – or dactylology’ (Chapter 2 p.6) – is she referring to sign language or fingerspelling?  The stress seems to be on becoming oral, learning to speak –

The author has heard a deaf and dumb lady read a newspaper quite intelligibly, and also converse with a mutual friend who was also deaf and dumb, and with whom she had been brought up at Braidwood’s establishment.  The tone of their voices was guttural and rather monotonous, but by no means difficult to understand.

Yes it is ‘preachy’ and in my view not terribly well written, but it is interesting.  I suspect the book dates from circa 1860-65 based on her name as it appears – Mrs Webb, and on the few details on her two fellow writers in the collection.  Our copy must I think be very rare indeed.

It is difficult to find out anything much about Annie Webb-Peploe, even though she wrote and published quite a lot over a long period.  She does not as yet appear in the ‘Orlando – Women’s Writing’ pages, unlike two of her three fellow writers who are published in the same volume, Frances Browne and Frances Mary Peard (the third being L.A. Hall).  Her three sons went into the army (Daniel), the navy (Augustus), and the church (Hanmer).  Hanmer was a member of the evangelical ‘Holiness Movement‘, and has an entry in the DNB (see below).  You can see more of her family details here.  She died in 1880.  It seems that she is ripe for some research by someone interested in Victorian literature.  I am sure there are Webb-Peploes around today who might have some family records that would add to the bare details, and a photograph perhaps.

I have saved the whole story as a pdf for those interested.  When opened, right click the file to put it the right way up.  Deaf and Dumb by Mrs Webb

Arthur and Jessie 1http://id.loc.gov/authorities/names/n84051745.html

The Jewess in Nineteenth-Century British Literary Culture de Waard, Marco. Gender Forum 21 (2008) (Review)

Valman, Nadia, The Jewess in Nineteenth-Century British Literary Culture, CUP 2009

Online Books by Mrs. Webb-Peploe

https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Search/Home?lookfor=%22Webb-Peploe,%20Mrs.%201805-1880.%22&type=author&inst=

My Life on the Prairies

I. T. Foster, ‘Peploe, Hanmer William Webb- (1837–1923)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/47130, accessed 3 Oct 2016] – see also here.

 

 

The Adventures of Stumpy

Alex P Stagg3 June 2016

Although the vast majority of our books are about audiology, deaf history or deaf culture, we have a few anomalies which seem at first glance to have fallen into our collection by happenstance. The Comenius book we blogged about a couple of weeks ago, for example, has little to do with our core remit. Another book which does not immediately seem to have anything to do with deafness is The AdvenStumpy1tures of Stumpy (1938), purportedly by one Stubby. The connection, perhaps rather tangential, is that Stumpy has a preface by Selwyn Oxley, Organising Secretary and Librarian for the Guild of St John of Beverley for the Deaf, and the source of many of the books and photographs in our collection*.

THE CONVASLESCENT STUMPY

Stubby tells Stumpy’s story from his infancy to middle age, observing his progress with a sardonic eye and wit: which is no surprise from a published Feline Author (Stubby’s previous books include Stubby – Story of a Cat and More About Stubby).

As you’d expect from the author of two volumes of autobiography, Stubby is a very self-centred narrator: when Stumpy is struck down by a particularly nasty illness, Stubby declares ‘it was only then that I realised I was not the only one [his owner] loved’. Stumpy wasn’t the luckiest cat: apart from a clot on the brain, for which there’s an X-ray in the book, he also broke a leg, scorched himself walking into a fire, lost his whiskers, and lost his sense of smell (this last though fortunately regained). The book describes the first ten years of Stumpy’s life, and I hope I don’t spoil anyone’s appetite for the book when I reveal he’s alive at the conclusion of the narrative albeit with rather fewer than nine lives left.

THE FELINStumpy2E AUTHOR, STUBBY

This is a charming book, for cat lovers: and seems to descend from Hoffman’s (fictional) Life and Opinions of the Tomcat Murr.

You will find The Adventures of Stumpy in our biography section, under ‘S’ for Stubby.

*Selwyn Oxley’s wife Kate, who was herself deaf, was the compiler.

Deaf Sculptor, Dorothy Stanton Wise, A.R.C.A. 1879-1918

H Dominic W Stiles1 April 2016

Stanton Wise SpringDorothy STANTON WISE,  (1879-1918) was a talented sculptor.  Born on the 20th of October, 1879,* one of four children, Dorothy was deaf from birth.  Her birth name was Dorothea rather than Dorothy.  Her father who ran a small boarding school with his wife, taught mathematics, her mother Elizabeth taught Dorothy to draw.  Elizabeth wrote an extensive article, “How a mother educated her own deaf child,” published in The Association Review in 1909.

We had no fears about her until she was two years old.  She cooed and laughed like any other baby, looked up when I entered the room, and was particularly lively and happy; but when she reached that age, and still only cooed and laughed, I was afraid she must be tongue-tied.  The doctor soon settled that point, and, after a few minutes’ careful watching, broke to me what the real trouble was.  He talked about my waiting a while, taking her to an aurist, and so on, and casually remarked, “I suppose you know now the deaf are taught to speak, and to understand by the movement of the lips.”  I did not know; we had no deaf friends, and the matter had never interested me; but suddenly, at that one sentence, the whole horror of the shock fell away, and a future of infinite possibilities opened out.  The doctor was kind and sympathizing; I stood by the window looking down the familiar street, but I saw all the old objects under a new light required for their interpretation to Dorothy, and her education began from the moment we skipped out of his doorway. (p.104)

Stanton Wise BingyWhen she was five she attended a kindergarten for two years (circa 1886), but then inexplicably says, “there was no school for the deaf within fifty miles of us” (p.104) – yet Margate school was only a few miles away.  At any rate, Elizabeth consulted the oralist teacher in Northampton, Mr. Arnold, who gave her some help in learning his methods of education.  When they moved to London, Dorothy had a short course of lessons in lipreading every spring at the Fitzroy Square School.  Straight after kindergarten Dorothy “went twice a week to a school of art for the usual course of freehand and model drawing” (p.106).  She decided to pursue art, wanting to study under Lantéri in the Royal College of Art.  To qualify, the whole family contributed to her art education, her father teaching her perspective, her mother helped with lessons in anatomical drawing that Dorothy developed further on her own, and her younger brother sat and worked with her on geometrical drawing (p.107).  After five years study under Lantéri she obtained the sculpture degree in 1906, the only girl in her year to do so.

The family ended up living in Hendon, and she remained with her parents, working on commissions.

She died on Christmas Day 1918**, possibly the victim of the influenza outbreak.  Regular readers may recall the words of  Yvonne Pitrois – “My heart was nearly broken when I heard of the passing away of Miss D.S. Wise!”

There is certainly sufficient material on Dorothy to make an interesting article, especially if the writer has an interest in art and can track down her original works.  Perhaps the Royal College of Art Archive has interesting records of her.

**[not 1919 as Lang says – see probate records and death index]
Stanton Wise*Dorothy Stanton Wise, Døves Blad, No.3, 1922, p.4-5

The Late Dorothy Stanton Wise, A.R.C.A., Ephphatha 1919 no.42 p.550-1

Lang, Harry C. & Meath-Lang, Bonnie, Deaf Persons in the Arts & Sciences, 1995, p.381-4

Pitrois, Yvonne, Dorothy Stanton Wise, The Silent Worker, 1916. 28 (7) p.121-2

Ray, Cuthbert Hamilton, A Clever Deaf Sculptor, BDT 1911, vol 8 no.90 p121-3Roe, W.R., Peeps into the Deaf World, p. 1917

Wilson, Miss Edith C., Note to “How I Became a Sculptor”, The Volta Review 1913, Vol.15, 406-7

Wise, Dorothy Stanton, How I became a Sculptor, The Volta Review 1913, Vol.15, 403-5

Wise, E. A., “How a mother educated her own deaf child,” in The Association Review, 1909, vol.11 p.103-8

http://dspace.wrlc.org/view/ImgViewer?url=http://dspace.wrlc.org/doc/manifest/2041/36909

All things bright and beautiful… Fanny Alexander and a disastrous fire

H Dominic W Stiles27 January 2012

Mrs Cecil Frances (Fanny) ALEXANDER, was also known by her initials C.F.A. (1818-1895)

Wife of the Bishop of Derry, and a hymn writer best known for All Things Bright and Beautiful, Cecil Alexander was born in Dublin in 1818, the daughter of John Humphreys,  a second lieutenant in the Royal Marines (later a major in the Tyrone yeomanry), and his wife Elizabeth Reed, a niece of General Sir Thomas Reed. Attracted with her friend Lady Harriott Howard to the Oxford Movement in the 1840s, the two began writing tracts with Cecil supplying the verse.

Marrying the Rev. William Alexander in 1850 she became deeply involved in parish work in Strabane, County Tyrone. Cecil, widely known as Fanny, was involved with her sister in the work of the Institution for the Deaf and Dumb at Strabane, which became the Derry and Raphoe Institution for the Deaf and Dumb, the proceeds from her early publications helping to fund this work.

Image from Wikimedia Commons

Sadly the Institution was destroyed by fire in 1856, and “the poor children, terrified by the flames, ran into shelter from which there was no escape, and several of them lost their lives” (obituary). The fire started at night and was discovered at 2 am on the 7th of May 1856. Six children were killed and their bodies badly burnt. At the time the Master of the school was Mr (later Rev.) George A.W. Downing, who later went on to teach in London and Manchester. Fanny’s father Major Humphreys presided over an investigation that followed the inquest, but no fault could be attributed to any individual.

Fanny wrote a poem about the fire, and she also wrote The Twin Mutes; Taught and Untaught, a moral fable, to raise funds to build an infant school for the deaf and dumb in Manchester, and the poem was published by Dr. Stainer. Unfortunately we do not have any records from the Derry Diocese Deaf and Dumb Institution as it seems to have been termed.

Among her lyrics were the famous ‘Once on royal David’s City’, and ‘There is a Green Hill far away’, see this link http://www.cyberhymnal.org/bio/a/l/e/alexander_cfh.htm

Harron, Michael, fires and fire fighting in Strabane during the eighteenth and ninteenth centuries.

Deaf history snippets.  British Deaf News, 1997, Nov, 9.

Memorial plaque

Obituary. Quarterly Review of Deaf-Mute Education, 1896, 4, 155-56.

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.

Then and Now