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Hesba Stretton Author Page

SARAH SMITH (1832-1911) was born in Wellington, England.  She had the good fortune of being able to read books from her father's bookshop, a printer of evangelical literature. Her mother was a strong evangelical, but died when Sarah was young.
In the March 19th, 1859 issue of Household Words, a publication conducted by Charles Dickens, she published her first short story called The Lucky Leg. It is an intriguing story about a man who wanted to marry a woman with a missing leg. It was more secular, but her talent was recognized. Hesba Stretton became her pen name, Stretton coming from the name of a neighboring village, and Hesba coming from the initials of her siblings. H (Hannah or some sources Harriett), E (Elizabeth), S (Sarah), B (Benjamin), and A (Annie).
She wrote Jessica's First Prayer in 1867, which became one of her most beloved stories. It sold very well and was translated into many languages. Other best sellers were Little Meg's Children and Alone in London. She was familiar with her subject matter and the plight of street children. She visited and helped many children in disadvantaged situations. She kept a simple life unencumbered with worldly possessions. She wrote over 60 books and stories.

Curiosmith Features:
Jessica's First Prayer
The Child's Life of Christ
Alice Gilbert's Confession
Humphrey Grainger's Losses
The Worth of a Baby
Only a Dog
Mrs. Burton's Best Bedroom
Poison in the Packet
A Miserable Christmas and a Happy New Year
How Apple-tree Court Was Won
Two Secrets
The Storm of Life
Nelly's Dark Days
Cobwebs and Cables
Bede's Charity
Max Krömer
Enoch Roden's Training
The Children of Cloverley
Alone in London
The Crew of the Dolphin
No Place Like Home
Jessica's Mother (illustrated)
Lost Gip
Pilgrim Street
Cassy
Fern's Hollow
A Thorny Path
Little Meg's Children
Under the Old Roof
The Christmas Child
Michel Lorio's Cross
Her Only Son
Sam Franklin's Savings Bank
A Man of His Word
Left Alone
A Night and a Day

 Timeline:
1832 - She was born in Wellington, Shropshire.
1858 - Began writing living at home at age 26.
1863 - Sarah, a writer, and sister Elizabeth, a governess, move to Manchester.
1867 - Sarah and Elizabeth move to London.
1892 - Bought a house at Ivycroft, on Ham Common near Richmond in Surrey. Sarah and Elizabeth live here until the end of their lives.
1911 - Buried at St. Andrews, Ham Common.
 
Family:
Father - Benjamin Smith, was a printer, bookseller and post-office worker.
Mother - Anne Bakewell Smith, evangelical, died when Sarah was 9.
Anne - sister Anne owned a house in All Stretton. Sarah visited Anne and her nieces and nephews in All Stretton.
Elizabeth - sister and lifelong companion. Changed her name to Elizabeth Stretton.
Hannah or some sources Harriet - sister, oldest sibling and housekeeper.
Benjamin - moved to Canada, then Kansas, lay preacher.
James - died in 1833.
William, Charles and mother Anne all died in 1842, a tragic year.
 
Education:
Day school for girls run by Mrs. Cranage at the Old Hall in Watling Street.
Reading in her father's bookshop.
 
Charity work:
Campaigned in 1889 for the first Act for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, subsequently known as the Children's Charter.
Campaigned with Baroness Miss Burdett-Coutts to help form L.S.P.C.C. then N.S.P.C.C. National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children.
Partnered with Benjamin Waugh - a co-campaigner for reform of the juvenile justice system. Waugh wrote: The Gaol Cradle: Who Rocks it? (1873).
Collected money for Russian peasants during the Russian famine of 1892.
Hesba Stretton visited:
Courts and Assizes
Child refuges
Charity hospitals
Soup kitchens
Juvenile work schemes
Orphanages
Workhouses
Inner slums
  
Social Reform Books:
Max Krömer - The horrors of the Siege at Strasburg 
Highway of Sorrow - Suffering of the Russian Stundist peasants.
In Prison and Out - Juvenile Prison Reform
In the Hollow of His Hand - The treatment of Russian Stundists 
Under the Old Roof - Married Women's Property Acts
Nelly's Dark Days - Temperance
Brought Home - Temperance
 
Books and Stories by Hesba Stretton:
A Green Bay Tree.
A Man of His Word. [A story.]
A Miserable Christmas and a Happy New Year.
A Night and a Day. [A tale.]
A Thorny Path.
Ally Transome; or Faithful in Little.
Alone in London.
An Acrobat's Girlhood.
Bede's Charity.
Bible Apocrypha. Selections. English Good Words from the Apocrypha.
Brought Home. [A tale.]
Carola.  [A tale.]
Cassy.
Children of Cloverley (The).
Christmas Child (The).
Clives of Burcot (The). [A novel.]
Cobwebs and Cables.
Crew of the Dolphin (The).
David Lloyd's Last Will.
Doctor's Dilemma (The).
Enoch Roden's Training.
Facts on a Thread of Fiction: In Prison and Out.
Fern's Hollow. [A tale.]
Fishers of Derby Haven (The).
Friends till Death.
Gospel Story for Young People (The).
Half Brothers.
Her Only Son.
Hester Morley's Promise.
Highway of Sorrow (The) at the Close of the Nineteenth Century.
How Apple-Tree Court Was Won.
In the Hollow of His Hand: A Story of the Stundists.
Jessica's First Prayer.
Jessica's Mother.
King's Servants (The) I. Faithful in Little. II. Unfaithful. III. Faithful in Much.
Left Alone.
Little Meg's Children.
Lord's Purse-Bearers (The).
Lost Gip.
Max Kromer: A Story of the Siege of Strasbourg.
Michel Lorio's Cross.
Mrs. Burton's Best Bedroom, and Other Stories, etc.
Nelly's Dark Days.
No Place Like Home.
No Work No Bread. [A tale.]
Old Transome. (The first 9 chapters of Ally Transome.)
Only a Dog. [A story.]
Papers on the Parables.
Parables of Our Lord (The).
Paul Rodents.
Paul's Courtship. [A novel.]
Pilgrim Street, A Story of Manchester Life.
Sam Franklin's Savings Bank.
Soul of Honour (The).
Storm of Life (The).
Sweet Story of Old (The): A Sunday Book for the Little Ones.
Ray of Sunlight (The); or, Jack Stafford's Resolve, and other readings.
Thoughts on Old Age: Good Words from Many Minds.
Through a Needle's Eye.
Two Christmas Stories. 
Two Secrets.
Under the Old Roof.
Wonderful Life (The); [The Life of Christ.] [The Wonderful Story of Christ.] The Child's Life of Christ
Worth of a Baby (The).
 
Also:
1. The Lucky Leg. March 19, 1859 issue of Household Words conducted by Charles Dickens.
2. The Ghost in the Clock Room. Chapter 2 in The Haunted House, the 1859 Extra Christmas Number of All the Year Round conducted by Charles Dickens.
3. Another Past Lodger Relates Certain Passages to Her Husband. Chapter 6 in Mrs. Lirriper's Legacy, the 1864 Extra Christmas Number of All the Year Round conducted by Charles Dickens.
4. Not to Be Taken For Granted. Chapter 4 of Doctor Marigold's Prescriptions, the 1865 Extra Christmas Number of All the Year Round conducted by Charles Dickens.
5. No. 4 Branch Line. The Travelling Post Office. Chapter 7 of Mugby Junction, the 1866 Extra Christmas Number of All the Year Round conducted by Charles Dickens.
 
Sources:
Cutt, Margaret Nancy. (1979) Ministering Angels: A Study of Nineteenth-century Evangelical Writing for Children.  Wormley, England: Five Owls Press.
Lomax, Elaine. (2009) The Writings of Hesba Stretton: Reclaiming the Outcast. Farnham and Burlington: Ashgate Publishing, Ltd.
Rickard, Suzanne L. G. (1996) Living by the Pen: Hesba Stretton's Moral Earnings, Women's History Review, Vol. 5, No. 2.
Walker, Alicia A. (1977) Alone in London: Nineteenth-Century Street Children in Novels by Charles Dickens and Hesba Stretton. Thesis. Emporia State University.