Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Linskill, Mary

LINSKILL, MARY (1840–1891), novelist, born at Whitby, Yorkshire, 13 Dec. 1840, was eldest child of Thomas Linskill, a worker in jet, who died leaving his wife and family in very poor circumstances. Mary was in youth apprenticed to a milliner, and afterwards acted as an amanuensis; but she soon turned to literature and art in the hope of affording material assistance to her family. With her mother she removed from Whitby to a little cottage near the village of Newholme, and there the greater part of her literary work was produced. Her earliest work, ‘Tales of the North Riding,’ 1871, was published under the pseudonym ‘Stephen Yorke,’ and, like most of her novels, appeared originally as a serial in ‘Good Words.’ Two of her novels are understood to have been to some extent autobiographical, viz. ‘The Haven under the Hill’ (1886), in which there is a sympathetic description of a Leeds Musical Festival; and ‘In Exchange for a Soul’ (1887), which contains a record of impressions received during a tour in Switzerland and Italy in that year. Her delineation of Yorkshire scenery is the most attractive feature in her writings, but the gloom, due to persistent bad health, which overshadowed all her literary work hindered her success. Several short stories from her pen were written for the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge. Miss Linskill also attained some degree of excellence in flower-painting. She died on 9 April 1891, at Stakesby Vale, Whitby, whither she had removed with her mother some years previously. The following is a list of her works: 1. ‘Tales of the North Riding,’ 2 vols. 1871. 2. ‘Cleveden,’ 2 vols. 1876, 1893. 3. ‘Between the Heather and the Northern Sea,’ 3 vols. 1884; new edit. 1890. 4. ‘The Haven under the Hill,’ 3 vols. 1886; new edit. 1892. 5. ‘In Exchange for a Soul,’ 3 vols. 1887; new edit. with memoir of author (reprinted from ‘Good Words’), by John Hutton, 1892; an American edition appeared in New York in 1889. Also the following short stories: ‘Earl Forrest's Faith,’ 1883; ‘The Magic Flute,’ 1884; ‘A Lost Son’ and ‘The Glover's Daughter’ (in one vol.), 1885; ‘A Garden of Seven Lilies,’ 1886; ‘Hagar: a North Yorkshire Pastoral,’ 1887; ‘Robert Holt's Illusion,’ and other stories, 1888.

[Good Words, June 1891; Yorkshire Post, 11 April 1891; Brit. Mus. Cat.]

G. Le G. N.