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Harriet Parr

Writing to Public Opinion ( London )a centributor says : — Your few lines quoted about "Holme Lee" interested me very much. What a flood of recollections that name calls up, after a lapse of many years; far back into the early sixties, when the home of Miss Harriet Parr was still the quiet, rural, typical English village of Shanklin, nestling under the Downs, its beach washed by the English Channel, and now known as the English Bay of Naples ! Here it was that Miss Panthought out and penned those books that, once read, leaves memories behind not easily effaced; but how many of the thousands that read her books knew or thought of the quiet, simple life lived by the authoress ? Only those who were privileged to be brought into contact with her in that quiet village home : and even now, as it were but yesterday, the writer in fancy is back in the old village Sunday school, listening to that soft earnest voice reading some subject of Scripture or some story from a chosen book, holding the class of lads spellbound as they watched the small delicate hands turning over the leaves, or looked for a smile from these gentle and finely-cut features. One Sunday morning in particular comes back to me now. It was in November, 1866, at the time of t.he flight of the Leonids. Miss Parr was more than usually impressive, explaining some of the mysteries of nature, and telling her lads that such a sight would not happen again for upwards of thirty years, and it was not likely that 'she would be spared to see that time,but we lads might live to see it ; and she expressed a modest wish that we should sometimes think of her as our teacher when she was laid to rest. But Miss Parr lived to see that time come round again, though many of the lads have long since passed away. One book especially ("For Richer for Poorer') brought out some of the most charming traits of the authoress; writing of the village life of Shanklin, she delineates her characters with a wonderful delicacy of feeling — e.g., the disappointed curate, Harry Lamplugh (the Rev. C. Hole), then residing only a few yards from her. Again, she describes Mrs Jenkins, of the old Library, and the little Jenkinses, the window of the room in the baker's house (Vine Cottage) from which the village gossips could see all who came or went through the village street. Amongst the most successful of her works might be mentioned "Kathie Brande," "Against Wiud and Tide," "Sylvan Holt's Daughter," *'Mande Talbot," and "In the Silver Age,'' some^flf" which are said to be amongst the favourite reading of our gracious Queen Victoria; indeed, a photo taken at Her Majesty's special request appeared in the Sphere of Inarch 10. Regarding the kind hopes in the Sphere, there can be no question as to Miss Parr having enjoyed a happy life, for such a life as hers, far from the turmoil and interludes of the busy city life, amidst the lovely surroundings of the Isle of Wight, beloved by all who were brought in contact with her — such must be the ideal of happiness. Her remains are interred in the old churchyard of St. John's, in the-grave of her sister, Miss Fanny' Parr. Her home and furniture arc to be Bold by her special wish, and the proceeds to go to form a Cottage Hospital in tribute of the happy yoars(upwards of forty) she spent in Shanklin. , •

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Harriet Parr Southland Times, Issue 14662, 6 June 1900

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