JAMES, Winifred Lewellin (1876-1941)


JAMES, Winifred Lewellin (1876-1941)
miscellaneous writer
daughter of the Rev. Thomas James, was born at Windsor, near Melbourne, in 1876. She took up journalism in Melbourne, and in 1905 went to London where her first novel Bachelor Betty was published in 1907. It was followed by Patricia Baring in 1908, Saturday's Children, an Australian book for girls, in 1909, and Letters to my Son, 1910. This book had extraordinary success and reached an eighteenth edition in less than 10 years. More Letters to my Son, Letters of a Spinster, and A Sweeping came out in 1911. Three travel books followed, The Mulberry Tree (1913), A Woman in the Wilderness (1915), and Out of the Shadows (1924). A novel, Three Births in the Hemingway Family, was published in 1929, and in the following year two volumes of essays London is my Lute and A Man for England, which was also issued with the title A Man for Empire. Another book of travel, Gangways and Corridors, appeared in 1936. Miss James married in 1913 Henry de Jan of Louisiana, U.S.A., and Panama. The marriage was unfortunate and some years later Mrs de Jan divorced her husband. She returned to London and found that she had lost her nationality, and that she was an alien who must report to the police whenever she moved more than five miles from her residence. She eventually refused to report and after a fight extending over many years regained her nationality in 1935. She returned to Australia early in 1940, obviously a very sick woman, and died in Sydney on 27 April 1941. Another novel, The Gods Arrive, was published in Melbourne shortly after her death.
Winifred James was an experienced journalist but not an important writer, though her travel books have some interest. Her most successful book Letters to my Son, is a somewhat sentimental volume of little real distinction.
The Sydney Morning Herald, 28 April 1941; E. Morris Miller, Australian Literature; Publisher's note to The Gods Arrive; Who's Who, 1940; personal knowledge.

Dictionary of Australian Biography by PERCIVAL SERLE. . 1949.

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