Winnifred Eaton

From Academic Kids

Winnifred Eaton, (August 21, 1875 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada - April 8, 1954 in Butte, Montana), United States was an author.

Winnifred Eaton was the daughter of Englishman Edward Eaton, a merchant who met her Chinese mother while on a business trip to Shanghai, China. Her mother was Grace "Lotus Blossom" Trefusis, the adopted daughter of English missionaries.

In the early 1870s, the Eaton family left England to live in Hudson, New York but stayed there only a short time before relocating to Montreal where Winnifred was born. Her father struggled to make a living and the large family went through difficult times. Nonetheless, the children were raised in an intellectually stimulating environment that saw Winnifred's elder sister, Edith Maude Eaton (1865-1914) become a journalist and an author of stories about the struggles of impoverished Chinese immigrants under the pen name Sui Sin Far.

Winnifred Eaton too began writing stories at a very early age. Her sister Edith had had articles published by a Montreal newspaper and Winnifred was only fourteen years old when one of her stories was accepted for publication by the same Montreal newspaper. Before long she had articles published in the United States in several popular magazines, notably the Ladies Home Journal. She left home at the age of seventeen to take a job as a stenographer for a Canadian newspaper in Kingston, Jamaica. She remained there for a year then moved to Chicago, Illinois where for a time she worked as a typist while continuing to write short stories. Eventually, her compositions were accepted by the prestigious Saturday Evening Post as well as by other popular periodicals. She moved from this to writing novels, capitalizing on her mixed oriental ancestry to pass herself off as a Japanese-American by the name of "Onoto Watanna." Under this pseudonym she published Japanese romance novels and short stories, becoming widely read throughout the United States.

In 1900, she moved to New York City where her second major novel, "A Japanese Nightingale" was published. It proved extremely successful, being translated into several languages and eventually sold as a Broadway play and then in 1919 was made into a motion picture. Her 1910 novel, "Tama," was a runaway bestseller and her novel, "Me, A Book of Remembrance," a thinly disguised memoir, told a titillating tale of a woman's infidelities. While living in New York Winnifred Eaton met and married Bertrand Babcock with whom she had four children. The marriage ended in divorce, and in 1917 she married for a second time to Francis Reeve. Moving to Calgary, Alberta in her native Canada, she continued to produce more successful novels until she returned to New York in 1924 to write screenplays for the burgeoning film industry. In 1932, she returned to Calgary where she became an active member of the artistic community, founding the "Little Theatre" movement and serving as the president of the Calgary branch of the Canadian Authors' Association.

In 1954, while returning home from a vacation in California, Winnifred Eaton fell ill and passed away in Butte, Montana. Following her death, her husband donated the funds to build the Reeve Theatre at the University of Calgary. A collection of her works are maintained at the Glenbow Archives in Calgary.

Partial bibliography:

Adapted from the article Winnifred Eaton (http://www.wikinfo.org/wiki.phtml?title=Winnifred_Eaton), from Wikinfo, licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.

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