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EVELYN SHARP

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(1869–1955) married (1933) Henry Woodd Nevinson (1856–1941). Suffragette and children's author, she came from a large middle-class family (Cecil J. Sharp, 1859–1924, the collector of folk songs, was her eldest brother; their father was a slate merchant) and was educated at the progressive Kensington Private School. Frustrated in her desire to go to university, Sharp decided early that she wanted to be a writer, and in 1894, aged 24, took a job as a daily governess and took a room of her own in London. Within a year she had published stories in the Yellow Book; a novel, At the Relton Arms, appeared in 1895. Sharp's most successful books were written for children, such as The Making of a Schoolgirl (1897), The Youngest Girl in School (1901), and The Hill That Fell Down (1909), as well as numerous fairy tales, some of which were illustrated by her friend Mabel Dearmer. In 1903 her father died and she spent a year looking after her mother, which meant that she lost her pupils and afterwards depended wholly on her earnings from journalism. She was an active suffragette, joining the WSPU in 1906, becoming assistant editor of Votes for Women in 1912, and working for the Daily Herald 1918–23. She was imprisoned in Holloway twice, and the second time was on hunger strike. Through the suffrage movement she became friends with ‘G. Colmore’, Beatrice Harraden, and Elizabeth Robins. The lives of suffragists are treated in the stories of Rebel Women (1910). Nicolete (1907) tells the story of an artistic young girl of an improvident family, nearly forced into an unwelcome marriage, who is left a fortune on condition she does not marry: ‘It ought to make it easier to be a great artist.’ She ends, however, by choosing life instead of art, in the shape of an idealistic social reformer, coupled with a plan for utopian state socialist reorganization. Sharp was pacifist: she continued suffrage agitation during the First World War, refused to pay income tax, and helped found the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom. In the 1920s she did social work and famine relief work in Germany and Russia; later she was interested in adolescents in the East End of London, and worked for the Labour Party and the NCCL. She wrote the libretto for the opera The Poisoned Kiss (1936) by Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872–1958). She published an excellent autobiography, Unfinished Adventure (1933), which comments humorously on the Yellow Book circle. She is not to be confused with Dame Evelyn Adelaide Sharp (1903–85), the Civil Servant.