H. W. Nevinson, Margaret Nevinson, Evelyn Sharp: Little-Known Writers and Crusaders
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H. W. Nevinson, Margaret Nevinson, Evelyn Sharp: Little-Known Writers and Crusaders Time, like an ever-rolling stream, Bears all its sons away; They fly forgotten, as a dream Dies at the opening day. —Isaac Watts Wendell Harris Santa Fe, New Mexico FEW OF THOSE who attended the impressive 1999 exhibition of the art of CR. W. Nevinson at London's Imperial War Museum are likely to have realized how well known had once been the artist's father, mentioned briefly in the exhibition catalogue, Henry Woodd Nevinson. Indeed, although H. W Nevinson was better known than either of his wives, Margaret Wynne Nevinson and Evelyn Sharp, the names of all three members of this little group would have been recognized by much of the reading and politically aware public in the early decades of the twentieth century. H. W, who lived a fascinating life, was a thoughtful, highly readable writer, whether writing as a war correspondent, journalist, essayist, fictionist, or militant crusader. Both Margaret Nevinson and Evelyn Sharp (who kept her own name after her marriage) were writers and courageous social activists. The three deserve to be remembered both for the literary interest of their best writing and as historians of their times. Although Henry, the eldest of the three, was born just after the mid-point of the nineteenth century and Evelyn Sharp, the youngest, lived until 1955, the central, truly active portions of the lives of all three fall between 1879 and the early 1930s. Biographical information on the three is scarce; each produced an autobiography, but all three are very reticent about details of their per280 HARRIS : LITTLE-KNOWN WRITERS & CRUSADERS sonal lives, are rather careless about dating, and say little about their own writing (indeed Sharp's autobiography never mentions the titles of any of her books). The DNB includes an entry on H. W. Nevinson; the volume of the DNB entitled Missing Persons includes an entry on Evelyn Sharp. The Biographical Dictionary of British Feminists is the most helpful additional source. Henry Woodd Nevinson Henry Woodd Nevinson (1856-1941, hereafter H.W.) was born in Leicester in 1856, and after attending Shrewsbury School went up to Christ Church, Oxford, taking his degree in 1879. Although he gained only a second class degree, he loved literature and went to Germany for a year to study German literature. On his return he lectured at Bedford College, served as Secretary to the London Playing Fields Committee, and associated himself with Toynbee Hall while living in Whitechapel. He married Margaret Wynne Jones in 1884 and together they struggled along in a life of poverty until 1897 when he was sent to the GrecoTurkish war as a correspondent for the Daily Chronicle. This was the great turning point in his life: he became a journalist. Although he wrote articles and essays on a wide variety of topics (the "middle" articles he wrote for the Nation from 1907 to 1923 are of especial importance), his assignments to wars and crises in country after country proved especially congenial to him. The DNB comments: "During the next thirty years [after 1897] he was the eyewitness and chronicler of most of the wars and unrest of his generation." Over the years he wrote and spoke against injustice and cruelty wherever he encountered it. He singlehandedly pushed his way into the interior of Portuguese Angola to expose the slavery on the cocoa plantations (the resulting account, A Modern Slavery, was published in 1906), denounced the operations of the Black and Tans in Ireland and championed women's suffrage. He was one of the founders of the Men's League for Women's Suffrage. It would not be possible to summarize H.W.'s amazing activity as a reporter of wars and crises in less space than he himself has done in the preface to Last Changes, Last Chances (1928). I therefore offer the following long quotation (the constant references to his editors might have been omitted, but his loyalty to those editors is a salient point of H.W.'s character): 281 ELT 45 : 3 2002 In this volume I take up the simple narrative of my experiences from the day of my return...


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