You are here

Osborne, Marian Francis

Main entryOsborne, Marian Francis
Birth placeMontreal, Quebec
Birth date14 May 1871
Death placeOttawa, Ontario
Death date5 September 1931
Birth nameMarian Georgina Francis
Married nameBath; Osborne
Marital statusmarried
Religious affiliationAnglican
BiographyAlthough raised in genteel poverty, Marian Georgina Francis (1871-1931) nevertheless benefited from growing up in a home populated by intellectual and prosperous relatives, including mother Marian Osler's cousin, Sir William Osler (1849-1919). The famed co-founding physician of Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, who was at the time a young professor at McGill, reportedly aided the family financially. In London, Ontario, Marian first attended the Sacred Heart Convent, then Helmuth College. Although she took courses at Trinity College, University of Toronto, she never completed her degree on account of her marriage: on his way home to Wales from the 1893 Chicago Fair, copper-works manager Charles Lambert Bath (1858-1899) stopped at Toronto where he met and married Marian--an encounter likely facilitated by the fact that, in her own youth, Marian's mother had been married to Charles's grandfather (who, in turn, had been a much older, distantly related cousin). For five years, Charles and Marian lived in Swansea, Wales, where they welcomed two children and where, it is said, Marian introduced local residents to the game of tennis. After Charles's suicide in 1899, Marian returned to Canada and in 1902 married Colonel Henry Campbell Osborne (1874-1949), a distinguished lawyer and military man who became Secretary General for Canada on the Imperial War Graves Commission. While in her thirties Marian began to write, producing a pamphlet on Alaska which she had visited in 1904, and a children's story. She later turned to poetry and published POEMS (1914), mostly written while convalescing in 1911. War work in England interrupted her literary activity, but during the 1920s, when she lived in Ottawa, she wrote children's verses; classical sonnets; a play, "The Point of View," which was published in CANADIAN PLAYS FROM HART HOUSE THEATRE; a comedy; and a lyrical drama; as well as two ballets. She established her reputation in England as well as Canada: a British film syndicate purchased her scenario "The Priest and the Pagan" and the English composer Frank Lambert set five of her lyrics to music. Marian died of liver disease in 1931 and was buried at Beechwood Cemetery in Ottawa.
TravelAlaska, 1904; England, 1922
Other notesSome Bath descendants speculate that the suicide of Charles Lambert Bath may have had some connection to a possible mistress who bore Charles a son prior to his marriage to Marian; from piecing together various accounts, it is possible that Charles, who suffered from chronic depression and who at the time of his death had been travelling eastwards through the continent on prescribed rest, was in fact headed towards or already with Louisa Kultschar, his childhood governess and possible mother of his child. Whatever the case, he managed to send his valet away in enough time to shoot himself while at a hotel in Brighton, England.
ResidencesMontreal, Quebec (1871-); Toronto, Ontario (c1880s); Wales (1893-1899); Toronto (1899-c1916); England (1916-20); Ottawa (1920-31)
Geographic regionsOntario
Primary genrespoetry; drama
Other publicationsAnthologized in: Garvin, CANADIAN POETS (1916; 1926); Garvin, CANADIAN VERSE FOR BOYS AND GIRLS (1930); Massey, CANADIAN PLAYS FROM HART HOUSE (1926)
OrganizationsCanadian Authors Association; Ottawa Drama League; Poetry Society
Other artspainting; wrote ballets
Father's nameGeorge Grant Francis Jr.
Life dates of fatherSeptember 1843, Swansea, Glanmorgan, Wales - 1907, Montreal, Quebec
Father's notemining agent, West Canada Mining Co.; travelled frequently away from home; son of famed Swansea antiquarian, George Grant Francis
Mother's nameMarian Osler
Life dates of mother25 January 1841, Bath, England - 27 April 1915, Toronto, Ontario; m. 1862 to Henry Bath, 1867 to George Grant Francis
Mother's noteLively, intelligent, and enchanting daughter of Edward Osler, physician turned author, and editor of ROYAL CORNWALL GAZETTE; cousin of Sir William Osler, Judge Featherstone Osler (Jr.), Britton Bath Osler (crown attorney in Louis Riel trial), Sir Edmund Boyd Osler (transportation financier); first husband, Henry Bath of Longlands, was distant cousin and grandfather of daughter's first husband; settled in Canada in 1869
Spouse 1Charles Lambert Bath
Life dates of spouse 13 January 1858, Coquimbo, Chile - 2 November 1899, Brighton, England
Spouse 1 notemanager of Lambert Copper Works, an inherited and well-established family business based in Swansea, Wales; studied at Eton; raised at Alltyferin Estate, where he possibly fathered a child with a mistress/the family governess--she was sent away, son was raised by another family; struggled with insomnia and chronic depression; committed suicide while on monitored vacation in Europe
Marriage 1 date13 May 1893
Marriage 1 placeSt. Simon's Church, Toronto, Ontario
Spouse 2Colonel Henry Campbell Osborne
Life dates of spouse 210 October 1874, Brantford, Ontario - 19 April 1949
Spouse 2 notebroker, member of Toronto Stock Exchange; barrister; MA, CMG, Lieutenant-Colonel in military; Honourary Secretary of Canadian Battlefields Memorials Commission
Marriage 2 date19 July 1902
Marriage 2 placeToronto, Ontario
Children number2
Children's names and datesCharles Lambert Bath (9 September 1894 - 5 September 1952), m. to Laurie Byrne Brophy; Marian Bath (20 September 1895 - 17 June 1999), m. to George Wilmot Rae Simpson
Biographical referencesBliss, WILLIAM OSLER: A LIFE IN MEDICINE (1999); CANADIAN WHO WAS WHO, vol. 1; Garvin, CANADIAN POETS (1916), pp. 341-46; 1901 Census of Canada; 1911 Census of Canada; Canada, Ocean Arrivals (Form 30A), 1919-1924; Ontario, Canada Marriages, 1801-1928; Ontario, Canada, Deaths, 1869-1938 and Deaths Overseas, 1939-1947; Ottawa, Canada, Beechwood Cemetery Registers, 1873-1990; special thanks to Michael Edward Bath and Alan Kultschar for family contributions
Bibliographic referencesWagner, BROCK'S BIBLIOGRAPHY OF CANADIAN PLAYS (1980); Watters, CHECKLIST OF CANADIAN LITERATURE...1620-1960 (1970), pp. 153, 445
Research referencescomplete
Archival referencesletters, Henry Vining Odgen Fonds, Osler Library Archive Collections, McGill University; originals and typescripts (Acc. 124), Osler Library, McGill University; documents and letters, Osler Family fonds, Archives of Ontario
Image creditsImage from John. W. Garvin, ed., CANADIAN POETS (2nd ed., Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1926).
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.