Mrs Humphry Ward (1851-1920)

: A Greenian educator

  • Helen Loader

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


This thesis draws together a range of Mrs Humphry Ward’s writing alongside her activities as a reformer to reposition her as a Greenian educator. Education is conceived in terms of Thomas Hill Green’s (1836-1882) idealist philosophy as the progression towards a better society through the development of the individual. The granddaughter of Dr Arnold of Rugby, Mrs Humphry Ward was a famous English novelist whose reputation was established through her novel about religious doubt Robert Elsmere (1888), which brought the ideas of the Oxford philosopher, T. H. Green, to the attention of the public. The novel explored his belief that theory and practice must come together within un-dogmatic interpretations of Christianity for the benefit of society. Throughout her life, Mrs Humphry Ward pursued and pioneered educational reforms but her achievements have been overshadowed by her controversial role as the leader of the anti-suffrage movement.
Following a chapter introducing the idealist principles underpinning Green’s philosophy and suggesting reasons why Mrs Humphry Ward can be considered among his pupils, disciples and followers, there are three substantive chapters. Each of these chapters has a separate but inter-related focus on religious, social and political aspects of her life and work as a writer and reformer; tracing the extent to which Green’s philosophical principles are discernible in her life and work. Within a gender history methodology, the thesis acknowledges the varied degrees to which Mrs Humphry Ward was simultaneously able to challenge and be complicit with power structures, which contrived to limit and control middle-class women’s ability to engage with the religious, social and political issues and debates affecting society. The thesis demonstrates Mrs Humphry Ward’s significance within histories of education and argues that the tensions within her life and work can be better understood and appreciated by viewing her as a Greenian educator.
Date of Award29 Apr 2014
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Winchester
SupervisorStephanie Spencer (Supervisor) & Joyce Goodman (Supervisor)

Cite this

Mrs Humphry Ward (1851-1920): A Greenian educator
Loader, H. (Author). 29 Apr 2014

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis