Monday, November 18, 2019

Daisy Ashford, Author

By Nancy J. Farrier

Have you ever gone through mementos from your childhood and discovered something precious that you’d forgotten about? I have and the memories resurrected are so fun, but the memento is usually just for me and not worth sharing to the world. That is not the case for Daisy Ashford, an extraordinary author.

Daisy Ashford
Photo Wikimedia
Daisy was born in 1881 in Petersham, Surrey, near London. The oldest of three girls, Daisy did schooling at home with her sisters. She loved books, and I have to wonder if her parents, especially her father, encouraged her love of the written word and story. When she was four years old, Daisy dictated her first book, The Life of Father McSwiney, to her father. This story would not see publication in her lifetime, but we will come back to it.

At nine years of age, Daisy wrote a novella, The Young Visitors, describing Victorian life as seen by a child in the nursery. Her mother tucked the story away and in her teen years, Daisy gave up writing. Her family moved several times and WWI caused much strife for the country. 

Daisy Ashford 1919
George Grantham
Bain Collection
Living in London, Daisy obtained work as a secretary and also ran a canteen during the war. When going through their parents things after a death, Daisy and her sisters discovered her hand-written manuscript of The Young Visitors.The spelling was what you would expect for a young child, but there was charm in the story. So much charm that a friend of hers sent the manuscript to a literary critic and author she knew.

J.M. Barrier
National Media
Museum UK
Frank Swinnerton, the critic, also worked as a reader for a publishing house. He persuaded Sir James M. Barrie, author of Peter Pan, to write a forward for the book, and The Young Visitorswas published, complete with most of the childish misspellings and grammar errors. 

Daisy was very excited at the thought of being a published author. Her book became an success, although there was some confusion about who authored the story. Many people believed J. M. Barrie to have penned the book because of his forward. At one point, Swinnerton was chased down the street with the person shouting, “Did he or did she?”

The year after her book was published, Daisy married and became known as
The Young Visitors
By Daisy Ashford
Margaret Mary Julia Devlin. I do not know if Daisy was a nickname from childhood or not. I wonder if this was an endearment used by her parents that stuck through childhood.

First page, The Young Visitors
Project Gutenberg
Daisy used the proceeds from her royalties to buy a farm. She and her husband enjoyed having a flower raising business. Daisy once said she liked, “…fresh air—and royalties.” Several of her other stories were published, but none as popular as The Young Visitors. Daisy considered her short novel, The Hangman’s Daughter, to be her best work. The book mentioned earlier, The Life of Father McSwiney, was published in 1983, eleven years after Daisy’s death. 

I love this story of a young girl being encouraged to write a story and then the later publication. The work is available through Project Gutenberg. I do believe I would enjoy reading her story. Have you ever heard of Daisy or her book? Did you write a book at that age? Such an accomplishment.

Nancy J Farrier is an award-winning author who lives in Southern Arizona in the Sonoran Desert. She loves the Southwest with its interesting historical past. When Nancy isn’t writing, she loves to read, do needlecraft, play with her cats, and spend time with her family. You can read more about Nancy and her books on her website:


  1. I love it when parents save keepsakes like that, that you can run across as an adult. My mom kept a couple of our childhood toys, our "baby" books with only a couple of entries, and that's about it. I tried to do a little better, but still didn't keep much. One blessing I had as an adult was a former teacher giving me some papers I had written when in her class. I was amazed that she did that as she had 20 years of more worth of students. It was humbling to know she saw something in me; I wish I had contacted her so we could have talked about that. Thanks for this post.

    1. Connie, how fun that your teacher saved your papers. That’s amazing. Thank you for sharing.

  2. This is very interesting. I love finding old treasures. I have not heard of Daisy. Thank you for sharing about her.

    1. Thank you, Melissa. I love those old treasures too. Thanks for commenting.