Elizabeth Goudge

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Elizabeth de Beauchamp Goudge (24 April 1900 – 1 April 1984) was an English author of novels, short stories and children's books.


Goudge was born in the city of Wells in Somerset where her father, Henry Leighton Goudge, was vice-principal of the Theological College. The family moved to Ely when he became principal of the Theological College there and then to Christ Church, Oxford when he was appointed Regius Professor of Divinity at the University. Elizabeth was educated at Grassendale School, Southbourne (1914–18), and at the art school at University College Reading, then an extension college of Christ Church. She went on to teach design and handicrafts in Ely and Oxford.

Goudge's first book, The Fairies' Baby and Other Stories (1919), was a failure and it was several years before she authored her first novel, Island Magic (1934), which was an immediate success. It was based on Channel Island stories, many of which she had learned from her mother, Ida Goudge (née Collenette), a native of Guernsey.

The Little White Horse (1946) was Goudge's own favourite among her works, and also the book which J. K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter stories, has said was her favorite as a child. The television mini-series Moonacre and the 2009 film The Secret of Moonacre were based on The Little White Horse. Her Green Dolphin Country (1944) was made into a film, under its American title, Green Dolphin Street, which won the Academy Award for Special Effects in 1948.

After her father's death in 1939, Goudge moved to a bungalow in Devon, where she nursed her ailing mother. After her mother's death in 1951, she moved to Oxfordshire, spending the last 30 years of her life living at a cottage on Peppard Common, just outside Henley-on-Thames, where a blue plaque was unveiled in 2008.

She died on 1 April 1984.[1]

Guernsey connections

Elizabeth had a long association with Guernsey, making her first visit at the age of eighteen months. Her mother Ida was born in Guernsey in 1874, the daughter of Adolphus Collenette and Marie-Louise Ozanne. Her grandmother's Ozanne family owned Hauteville House, which they sold to Victor Hugo. The Collenette family lived at Le Hechet in the Ruette Braye, and Adolphus Collenette was a dispensing chemist, with a shop in the Commercial Arcade.

Elizabeth herself regularly visited Guernsey as a child, recounting in her autobiography The Joy of the Snow spending many of her summers with her maternal grandparents and relatives.

She said "My first bit of writing to meet with any success was a novel about Guernsey called Island Magic, that I wrote after my last visit there, when I stayed with Miss Cownellan in her cabin at Le Gouffre. I had no success with my writing until I began to write about Guernsey."

Guernsey brought her success again with Green Dolphin Country, a historical novel set partially in Guernsey. She admitted that although the book was inspired by Guernsey, many of the locations only existed in her imagination. Similarly, she named the characters with common Guernsey surnames - Le Patourel and Ozanne.[2]


  1. Elizabeth Goudge wikipedia entry
  2. Elizabeth Goudge and Her Books, Review of the Guernsey Society, Spring 1947
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