June 18, 2013

The Death of an Edwardian Lady

A June Bouquet  Of Peonies and Edith Holden

My walk reminded me of a book, The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady, by Edith Holden, a British artist, teacher and self-taught naturalist who wrote and illustrated this homey diary of her excursions in 1906 in the countryside surrounding her home in Olton, Warwickshire.
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Holden could never have been sick of spring. In fact, she died from the exact opposite of what afflicted the owner of the peonies. She was over-enthusiastic.

With a rush came the memories of being totally charmed by her book, The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady, which was republished in 1977 with great success long after her death in 1920.

 Edith Holden Country Lady

But I never knew about her death until The Thinking Housewife quoted from Wikipedia:

On Tuesday, 16 March 1920, she was found drowned in a backwater of the River Thames, near Kew Gardens Walk. On the prior Monday morning Edith had complained to Ernest of a headache, but this was not uncommon and the matter had not been dwelt on. The main subject at breakfast had been the impending visit of some friends for Easter, to which Edith was looking forward. Ernest left for the studio at St. James's Palace and Edith said that she would probably go down to the river later to see the University crews practicing.

When Ernest [her husband] returned home that evening his wife was out but the table had been laid for the evening meal, and Ernest assumed that she was with friends. It was not until the next morning that he learned the truth. Her body had been found at six o’clock on the Tuesday morning. The inquest established that she had tried to reach a branch of chestnut buds. The bough was out of reach and with the aid of her umbrella Edith had tried to break it off, fallen forward into the river and drowned.

You can see examples of her work here

She has left us a great legacy with the beauty of her paintings and illustrations, the accuracy of her observations of nature and the example she leaves of the wonder experienced by all naturalists.

Posted by Jill Fallon at June 18, 2013 12:15 PM | Permalink