Au­thor Mary Wood’s fam­ily has a long con­nec­tion to the “Friend”

Au­thor Mary Wood tells of her fam­ily’s long as­so­ci­a­tion with the “Friend”, go­ing back more than 120 years!

The People's Friend - - This Week -

MY long as­so­ci­a­tion with the mag­a­zine be­gan with my great-grand­mother, Dora Lan­glois, hav­ing her se­rial “A Fam­ily Fail­ing” pub­lished in “The Peo­ple’s Friend” more than 120 years ago, on March 21, 1898.

It con­tin­ued with my late mother, Dora Ol­ley, who was a life-long sub­scriber, and who told me that when she was just a girl she used to sneak a read of the copy be­long­ing to her own mother – my late grand­mother, Suzelie.

I fol­lowed on in the foot­steps of these fe­male an­ces­tors as I, too, read “The Peo­ple’s Friend” from the age of eleven. I re­mem­ber not be­ing able to wait for Mum to fin­ish read­ing the cur­rent is­sue so that I could catch up with the se­ri­als.

That con­tin­ued un­til 1989 when my mother passed away. I re­mem­ber miss­ing read­ing it, but feel­ing un­able to buy a copy be­cause of the long con­nec­tion it had with my mother, and be­cause she would no longer be there for me to dis­cuss the ar­ti­cles and se­ri­als with.

The as­so­ci­a­tion was to be picked up again when read­ing the mag­a­zine wasn’t to be the only way that I trod the an­ces­tral path – 118 years af­ter my great-grand­mother’s story ap­peared, I was in­vited to fea­ture in the mag­a­zine, too.

I was thrilled when I then learned from my niece, Suzanne Har­ris, who re­searches the fam­ily tree, and in par­tic­u­lar the life and works of Dora Lan­glois, how my great-granny had contributed to the mag­a­zine all those years ago. I wanted to shout up to heaven to my mum, my granny and great-granny.

“Look, look at me! I, too, am part of the mag­a­zine that we all loved!”

My fea­ture was in 2016 as part of the book rec­om­men­da­tion se­ries, teamed with my pub­lish­ers, Pan Macmil­lan. A proud oc­ca­sion for me and my fam­ily, and one that’s been re­peated twice since. I look for­ward to be­ing fea­tured again this year, when my next book is pub­lished.

I do have quite a way to go to catch up with my great-grand­mother, Dora Lan­glois. Though I have writ­ten more nov­els than the six she wrote, she also wrote plays, in which she and her hus­band – a man with the won­der­ful name of Hip­polyte – starred.

This was as well as Dora writ­ing ar­ti­cles and short sto­ries for many pub­li­ca­tions and be­ing a fear­less cam­paigner.

Dora be­came well known for her ex­po­sure of many of the mal­prac­tices in­dulged in by un­scrupu­lous the­atri­cal man­agers, and she cham­pi­oned the less for­tu­nately placed artists that she met, send­ing many let­ters to the edi­tors of “The Stage” mag­a­zine.

I am priv­i­leged to own a copy of one of her six nov­els, “In The Shadow Of Pa­menkh”, and was re­as­sured to know that Suzanne had found an­other of her works, “The Child: A Mother’s Ad­vice To Her Daugh­ters”.

Though the con­tent meant Dora was heav­ily crit­i­cised in her day, it is still stud­ied in Amer­ica and is in­cluded in “The Nor­ton An­thol­ogy Of Chil­dren’s Lit­er­a­ture”. I am proud to fol­low in the foot­steps of this for­mi­da­ble lady.

On be­half of five gen­er­a­tions of women in my fam­ily, I would like to con­grat­u­late all at “The Peo­ple’s Friend” on your 150th birth­day, and long may our fam­ily’s as­so­ci­a­tion with you con­tinue. ■

The orig­i­nal page from 1898 fea­tur­ing an au­thor pro­file of Dora, com­plete with por­trait draw­ing and an in­stal­ment of her se­rial, “A Fam­ily Fail­ing”.

Dora Lan­glois pic­tured with her hus­band, Hip­polyte.

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