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Hensley, Sophie Margaretta Almon

Main entryHensley, Sophie Margaretta Almon
Birth placeBridgetown, Nova Scotia
Birth date31 May 1866
Death placeAnnapolis Royal, Nova Scotia
Death date10 February 1946
Birth nameSophia Margaretta Almon Hensley
Alternate namesSophie M. Almon; John Wernberny and Another, J. Try-Davies and Mary Woolston; Almon Hensley; Gordon Hart
Married nameHensley
Marital statusmarried
Paid workjournalist
BiographySophia Margaretta Almon (1866-1946) was born in Bridgetown, Nova Scotia to a clerical family descended from Cotton Mather and Increase Mather. Upon finishing education at home with her governesses, she travelled abroad for further learning: at St. Denis School and at St. Monica's in Warminster, Wiltshire, and at Miss Watson's School in Paris. A protégée of Charles G.D. Roberts, she lived for a time at her family home in Windsor, Nova Scotia and while not a member of the Roberts's Kingscroft poetry circle, she nonetheless contributed to such periodicals as THE WEEK, THE KING'S COLLEGE RECORD, THE DOMINION ILLUSTRATED MONTHLY, and THE CURRENT. Her writing became well known in many North American periodicals during the 1880s and 1890s. She published her first collection of poems in April 1889, simply titled POEMS, and in the same month married barrister Hubert Arthur Hensley in Halifax. Although the newlyweds had dreams of traveling the world and living by their pens, they instead moved to New York City in September 1890. While Hubert took employment as the general manager of a stock brokerage and investment banking group, J.S. Bache and Co., Sophie published her second volume of verse, A WOMAN'S LOVE LETTERS (1895). In addition to lecturing on literary topics, she later wrote a novelette, a musical play (in collaboration with her husband), and more volumes of poetry. Reputedly progressive in her social and political community, Sophie acted on her interests in child welfare and feminist causes; as New York resident "Almon Hensley," she was involved in the Society for Political Study, served as secretary of the New York State Assembly of Mothers, was co-founder and vice-president of the New York City Mother's Club, and founding president of the Society for the Study of Life—a group that sought to create an arena for discussing often taboo subjects related to issues surrounding marriage and family. She was a member of the New York Press Club, and served as associate editor of HEALTH: A HOME MAGAZINE DEDICATED TO PHYSICAL CULTURE AND HYGIENE. She subsequently wrote a feminist treatise on women entitled LOVE AND THE WOMAN OF TOMORROW (1913), which was remarkable for its liberal views concerning unwed mothers. During her married years, and upon being widowed some time in the late 1920s early 1930s, Sophie continued to travel frequently. In 1923, for example, she travelled to Algeria for "health" reasons, to England for vacation, and to France to visit her daughter. Still, even while her children were quite young, she returned often to Barton, Nova Scotia where she kept a summer home. Eventually moving to the island of Jersey in 1937, she was forcibly removed when the Nazis invaded the Channel islands in 1940 and took over her home. Having returned to Windsor, Nova Scotia, she died of heart failure in 1946 at the Annapolis General Hospital and was buried at Fernhill Cemetery in Saint John, New Brunswick.
TravelEngland, 1924; St. Lucia, 1936
Other notesThe 1904 edition of WHO'S WHO IN NEW YORK lists a novel, THE LOST SARD, as "ready for publication," as well as "a work on social and moral problems to be published this winter."
ResidencesBridgetown, Nova Scotia (1866, 1871); Windsor, Nova Scotia (1881); Warminster, England; Paris, France; New York (1890s); New Rochelle, New York (1904); London, England (c1907); Manhattan, New York (1910, 1920, 1923); Island of Jersey (1937-1940); Windsor, Nova Scotia (1940-1946)
Geographic regionsNova Scotia; New York
Primary genrespoetry; non-fiction
BooksPOEMS (1889) as Sophie M. Almon; A WOMAN'S LOVE LETTERS (1895); LOVE & COMPANY (1897, 1901) as John Wernberny and Another, and republished under the names J. Try-Davies and Mary Woolston; OUT OF THE SILENCE (1900) as Almon Hensley; PRINCESS MIGNON: A MUSICAL PLAY IN THREE ACTS (1900) as Almon Hensley; THE HEART OF A WOMAN (1906) as Almon Hensley; WOMAN AND THE RACE (1907) as Gordon Hart; LOVE AND THE WOMAN OF TOMORROW (1913) as Almon Hensley; THE WAY OF A WOMAN, AND OTHER POEMS (1928)
Other publicationsAnthologized in: Burpee, CENTURY OF CANADIAN SONNETS (1910); Rand, TREASURY OF CANADIAN VERSE (1900)
OrganizationsCanadian Authors Association; New York Press Club
Father's nameReverend Henry Pryor Almon
Life dates of fatherc1838, Nova Scotia - 1877-1881; m. 1862
Father's noteclergyman; son of Hon. Mather Byles Almon, descendant of Cotton Mather
Mother's nameSarah Frances De Wolf
Life dates of motherc1843, Nova Scotia - after 1881; m. 1862
Spouse 1Hubert Arthur Hensley
Life dates of spouse 17 October 1862, Windsor, Nova Scotia - 1924-1936
Spouse 1 notebarrister; general manager of J.S. Bache and Co., New York
Marriage 1 date25 April 1889
Marriage 1 placeHalifax, Nova Scotia
Children number3
Children's names and datesEmily Gwendolyn (21 December 1891 - 19 February 1979), m. to Edmund Tilley; Dorothea Rangeley (28 May 1894 - ); Edwin Mather Almon (26 August 1895 - 2 August 1940), m. to Jessica H
Biographical referencesDictionary of Literary Biography 99; WHO'S WHO IN NEW YORK (CITY AND STATE) 1ST ED.: 1904- (1904), p. 432; Perry, CHARLES D'WOLF OF GUADALOUPE... (1902), p. 261; Mount, "The Making of Almon Hensley," WHEN CANADIAN LITERATURE MOVED TO NEW YORK (2006), p. 92-97; 1871 Census of Canada; 1881 Census of Canada; 1910 United States Federal Census; 1920 United States Federal Census; Boston Passenger and Crew Lists, 1820-1943; Canada, Ocean Arrivals (Form 30A), 1919-1924; U.S. Passport Applications, 1795-1925
Bibliographic referencesWatters, CHECKLIST OF CANADIAN LITERATURE...1620-1960 (1970), pp. 90, 310, 437, 618
Research referencescomplete
Image creditsThis image is in the public domain; posted on Canadian Poetry (Western University, London, Ontario).
Unverified titlesA SEMI-DETACHED HOUSE (1900)
CopyrightThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0) at Please cite Canada's Early Women Writers. SFU Library Digital Collections. Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, BC, Canada. 1980-2014.