John Oliver Hobbes

John Oliver Hobbes (pen name of Pearl Mary Teresa Craigie, born Richards. November 3, 1867 – August 13, 1906) was an Anglo-American writer.

Hobbes was born in Boston, Massachusetts, but her family moved to London when she was a child. Hobbes went to boarding school near Newbury, Berkshire, and, later, in London and Paris. In 1877, she published two stories under her on name, “Lost, a Dog” and “How Mark Selby Won His Public House”, both in The Fountain. She studied Greek, Latin, and English literature at University College London.

In 1887, she married Reginald Walpole Craigie, and the couple had a son in 1890. Soon after, Hobbes left her husband in 1891 and returned to her parents’ house. That same year, she published her first book, Some Emotions and A Moral (1891), which was a bestseller in her lifetime. In 1892, Hobbes, who had been brought up as a Nonconformist, converted to Roman Catholicism.

She divorced Craigie in 1895. According to the Times report of the divorce proceedings, the “case is an exceedingly filthy one, and most of its details are utterly unfit for publication in a newspaper”. It is said that Craigie was alcoholic and infected her with a venereal disease. Against her parents’ wish, she refused to remarry after her divorce.

Hobbes is rumoured to have had several lovers – including George Moore, who portrayed her as a flirt and fraud in Evelyn Innes (1898) and Sister Teresa (1901). Owen Seaman also parodied her work in Punch.

Hobbes served as President of the Society of Women Journalists, from 1895 to 1896, and was a member of the Anti-Suffrage League. She collaborated with The Yellow Book (1894 to 1897), and published novels, novellas, short stories, plays, essays, and literary criticism.

 Hobbes suffered from poor health, and was addicted to sedatives. She died of heart failure in London, in 1906. After her death, Thomas Hardy, whom she had met in 1893, praised her “intellectual brilliancy”, and wrote to Florence Henniker, in a letter from September 12th, 1906: “(…) to keep three plates spinning, literature, fashion, & the Holy Catholic religion, is more than ordinary strength can stand.

Books

Novels

  • Some Emotions and a Moral(1891)
  • The Sinner’s Comedy(1892)
  • A Study in Temptations(1893)
  • A Bundle of Life(1894)
  • The Gods, Some Mortals, and Lord Wickenham(1895)
  • Some Good Intentions and a Blunder(1895)
  • The Herb-Moon: A Fantasia(1896)
  • The School for Saints(1897)
  • Robert Orange(1900)
  • The Serious Wooing: A Heart’s History(1901)
  • Love and the Soul Hunters(1902)
  • The Vineyard(1904)
  • Flute of Pan: A Romance(1904)
  • The Dream and the Business(1906)

Plays

  • The Ambassador: A Comedy in Four Acts(1898)
  • Osbern and Ursyne: A Drama in Three Acts(1900)
  • The Wisdom of the Wise: A Comedy in Three Acts(1900)
  • The Bishops̕ Move: A Comedy in Three Acts(1902)

Essays

  • Imperial India: Letters from the East(1903)
  • The Artists Life(1904)
  • The Science of Life(1904)
  • Letters from a Silent Study(1904)

Collections

  • The Tales of John Oliver Hobbes (1897, including Some Emotions and a Moral, A Study in Temptations, The Sinner’s Comedy, and A Bundle of Life)
  • Tales about Temperaments (1902, including The Worm That God Prepared, ‘Tis An Ill Flight Without WingsA Repentance: A Drama in One Act – 1899), Price Toto, and Journeys End In Lovers Meeting – 1894)
  • Life and To-morrow: Selections from the Writings of John Oliver Hobbes, ed. Zoë Procter (1907)

Letters

  • The Life of John Oliver Hobbes Told in Her Correspondence with Numerous Friends, ed. John Morgan Richards and Rev. Bishop Welldon (1911)

About her

  • Air-bird in the Water: The Life and Works of Pearl Craigie (John Oliver Hobbes), by Mildred Davis Harding (1996)
  • John Oliver Hobbes: her life and work, by Margaret Maison (1976)

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