Parr, Harriet (DNB01)

PARR, HARRIET (1828–1900), novelist, who wrote under the pseudonym of Holme Lee, was born at York on 31 Jan. 1828. Her father, William Parr, was a traveller in silks, satins, and coloured kids, and her mother was Mary Grandage of Halifax, Yorkshire. Miss Parr was educated at York, and early in life devoted herself to literature as a profession. In 1854 she published, under the pseudonym Holme Lee, her first novel, 'Maud Talbot.' It did not attract much attention, but she sent her second novel, 'Gilbert Massinger,' to Charles Dickens, who was much impressed by it (Forster, Life of Dickens, ii. 474-5). Its length prevented its appearance in 'Household Words,' and in 1855 it was separately published. Even in this form it had a considerable sale, which was much increased when it was reissued in a cheap single volume in 1862. It was translated into Italian in 1869. Another novel, published in 1855, 'Thorney Hall,' reached a second edition in 1862, and was translated into French in 1860. Between 1854 and 1882 Miss Parr published some thirty novels, all of them refined in tone, somewhat sentimental, and written in an easy, unaffected stvle (cf. Athenæum, 1862 i. 186, 1871 ii. 79, 367, 1872 i. 687). These merits, supplemented by the enthusiastic support of Charles Edward Mudie [q. v.], secured Miss Parr considerable popularity as a writer of fiction virginibus puerisque. Her more serious work consisted of three books published under her own name:

  1. 'The Life and Death of Jeanne d'Arc,' 2 vols. 1866;
  2. 'Maurice and Eugenie de Guerin,' 1870; and
  3. Echoes of a Famous Year,' 1872. The first of these was a solid and creditable performance (cf. Athenæum, 1866 ii. 9, 1870 i. 386).

Miss Parr passed her later years at Shanklin, Isle of Wight, where she died on 18 Feb. 1900. An oil portrait of her, painted about 1848 by George Lance [q. v.], belongs to her brother, Mr. George Parr, of 31 Canonbury Park.

[Private information; Brit. Mus. Cat.; Lit. Year Book, 1901, pp. 101-2; authorities cited.]

A. F. P.