[bksvol-discuss] Mrs OF Walton also known as Amy Walton

  • From: "Dilsia A. Martinez" <dilsiam@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: bksvol-discuss@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Sat, 12 Aug 2006 14:49:59 -0700 (PDT)

              Mrs O F Walton           Nationality - English  Date of birth - 
1849     Profession - Author  Date of death - 1939     Place of birth - :       
          Mrs Walton was born Amy Catherine Deck in 1849, the daughter of the 
vicar of St Stephen's Church, Spring Street, Hull.

In February 1875 she married her father's curate Octavius Frank Walton, and was 
subsequently known as Mrs O.F.Walton. Amy's first book, My mates and I, was 
sent to the Religious Tract Society under her father's name in 1870. My little 
corner: a book for cottage homes was the first to be published in 1872.

The narrator of this story is a young mother who writes about life in the new 
terraced streets of a place like Hull, where the town has expanded rapidly into 
the countryside and destroyed it. The story concerns her backsliding from 
church-going, and her re-conversion after her daughter is burned to death while 
she is gossiping in the street.

Also published in 1873 was Little Dot, about the death of a child who has 
looked forward to heaven.

  

        Mrs O F Walton            The next year, 1874, saw the publication of 
one of her most lasting stories, which is in a very similar vein, Christie's 
old organ, or Home sweet home. Christie is an orphan who helps and converts Old 
Treffy, a forlorn old organ-grinder, whose organ plays "Home, sweet home." This 
was the last tune Christie's mother had sung before dying and going to her 
eternal home.

Soon after marriage, Octavius Walton took up an adventurous appointment in 
Jerusalem, in a church on Mount Zion, from 1875-9. His wife wrote Angel's 
Christmas about a poor little girl who lives in dire poverty and converts her 
hard-worked mother. Before conversion the house had been dirty. "Yet one could 
hardly blame poor Mrs Blyth very much, for she had a hard life, and plenty to 
do. A drunken husband, a mangle, and five children! No wonder she had not time 
to look after spiders." Mrs Walton is certainly sympathetic to the plight of 
poor wives and mothers, especially those who have been deserted by husbands who 
drink, gamble and then run away, leaving them with children to look after, and 
sometimes others on the way.

Mrs Walton's most famous and popular book, A Peep behind the scenes, was 
published in 1877. This is the story of Rosalie, a delicate, pretty child of 
12, who acts in a travelling theatre within a fair and is worked hard by her 
father, who also ill-treats her mother, whom he accuses of malingering, though 
she is in fact dying of consumption. There are several powerfully melodramatic 
themes. The first is that of "reality behind the scenes of make believe." The 
fair may look attractive, and it may seem exciting and glamorous to be on the 
stage, but the reality is very different, including hard work, illness, 
exhaustion and the exploitation of children. Rosalie must perform even while 
her mother is dying. There are women who bitterly regret running away from 
home, where they went to church, to join the supposed glamour of the fair. This 
story became one of the most popular girl's stories of its time. The fair folk 
are also sympathetically drawn, particularly a family of kindly
 dwarves. The dialogue is natural, as in all of Mrs Walton's stories, and 
somehow the characters, despite being so one-dimensional, retain our sympathy.

The Waltons spent a few years in a living in Cally, Kirkcudbrightshire, on the 
West coast of Scotland. In 1879 a shorter novel for young children was 
published, Saved at sea. This is about Alick Fergusson, a boy who lives in a 
lighthouse, with his grandfather, the lighthouse keeper. Grandfather is shocked 
into conversion by the drowning of a friend. During a violent storm a baby is 
thrown into the lifeboat, and turns out to be pretty Little Timpey, who is not 
too young to have learned a prayer. A typically miraculous surprise occurs when 
Alick's father, a sailor presumed lost at sea, turns up.

In 1883 Octavius Walton obtained the living of St Thomas', in York, where he 
stayed until 1893. Shadows: scenes and incidents in the life of an arm-chair 
was published in in 1884. The arm-chair starts its life with a young married 
couple, but the husband soon goes astray. The arm-chair has pretty strict 
evangelical opinions about the strong language which begins to be heard in the 
home. It is even more shocked when the husband comes home drunk. In another 
episode an unpleasant miser hides all his gold in the arm-chair, and when he 
dies his daughter and her children nearly starve until, after prayers, one of 
the children providentially finds the gold in the chair.

Poppy's presents (1886) is a short novel for older girls set in a poor 
overcrowded part of York. Poppy's mother, deserted by her husband, produces two 
"presents" for Poppy, twin baby brothers, and although Poppy loves them, it is 
a struggle to care for them as her mother is exhausted washing for a living. 
"Poppy's babies were never quiet, except when they were asleep, and 
unfortunately it was very seldom that they were both asleep at the same time." 
She prays for help with the washing, and wonders how it might come, "for she 
never heard of an angel washing up cups and saucers, or cleaning a house, or 
nursing a baby." Help does come, for her dying mother has written to Granny, 
and Granny turns up with some good country food and puts them all in clean 
clothes. Mother is not afraid to die, as she has been converted, (and will get 
a rest from the washing) and Granny is also converted before taking them home 
to the country.

In later life Mrs Walton widened her scope and style and wrote books with more 
of a story, copying other genres for older children, either the adventure or 
the mystery story. While her evangelical themes were not neglected, they no 
longer dominated the story so entirely. Winter's folly (1889) is a story for 
girls about the charming twin daughters of a vicar, who befriend a reclusive 
old man named Winter. He was forced by poverty to give up his daughter for 
adoption by his brother, but in the end, helped by divine providence, the grown 
up daughter returns home to care for him.

In 1893 the Waltons moved to a new parish in Wolverhampton, St Judes. Mrs 
Walton gives a very dramatic description of the hell-like industrial wasteland 
to be found in this area of the country in her mystery story The Lost clue, 
published in 1907. Octavius retired in January 1918. Mrs Walton died in Leigh, 
in Kent in 1939 and is buried in the Anglican churchyard there.

Source: British Library
                
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