Pamelia Sarah Vining
Biography of Pamelia Sarah Vining
Pamelia Sarah Yule née Vining was a Canadian poet.
Pamelia Sarah Vining grew up on farms in New York and Michigan. According to a brief, unpublished autobiographical account, while still a child she moved to Oxford County, Upper Canada, where eventually she worked as a district school teacher for a few years. She entered Albion College (Albion, Mich.) in 1855, from which she received an msa degree the following year and where she subsequently taught for three years. In 1860 she was invited by the Reverend Robert Alexander Fyfe, the first principal of the Canadian Literary Institute, a Baptist school in Woodstock, to teach art, literature, and English. She accepted the invitation and taught there until 1866, when marriage to a student of hers necessitated her resignation. The couple began married life in Brantford, where James Yule ran a private grammar school, and then, after 1 Oct. 1868, lived in York Mills (Toronto), where he was pastor of York Mills Baptist Church. In 1874, after James accepted a professorship in New Testament studies at the Canadian Literary Institute, they returned to Woodstock. Following her husband’s death from tuberculosis on 28 Jan. 1876, Pamelia lived in Brantford and then in Ingersoll. She remained active in the church, particularly concerning foreign missions, and reports and articles by her appeared regularly in the Canadian Missionary Link (Toronto) between 1886 and 1889.
Pamelia contributed poems extensively to journals and newspapers in both Canada and the United States from about 1856. Her earliest appearance in an anthology seems to have been the three poems which William Turner Coggeshall included in The poets and poetry of the west (New York, 1860). The appearance of eight of her poems in Edward Hartley Dewart*’s Selections from Canadian poets, which was published in Montreal by John Lovell in 1864, brought her work before a larger Canadian public, and Dewart’s enthusiasm for her poetry (“There is no Canadian poet whose poetry we have read, and re-read, with greater interest and delight than Miss Vining’s”) helped to establish her reputation. Her earliest separate publication was The names of Jesus; a poem, originally read at the Canadian Literary Institute on 27 Jan. 1866. A more substantial work, Poems of the heart and home, appeared in Toronto in 1881. Some time after her marriage she began to write fiction. Ada Emory; or, the sister’s Bible; a story and Up hill; or Paul Sutherland’s progress (1887) were issued in Philadelphia by the American Baptist Publication Society. No copy of Ada Emory has been located; that it was published in 1871 is confirmed in the autobiographical note; advertisements for it appeared in Canadian Baptist between 1873 and 1876. The only recorded copy of the second novel, the one deposited at the Library of Congress, was at some later point discarded. Sowing and reaping: or, records of the Ellisson family, a temperance novel, was published in Toronto by William Briggs* in 1889 (not 1899, as is usually stated). She also edited the papers of her husband and published them, together with her memoir of him, as Records of a vanished life . . . (Toronto, 1876). In addition to her poetry and fiction she published on religious subjects, contributing, for example, a series of Sunday school lessons to The Christian helper (Toronto) in the early 1880s. A number of unpublished manuscripts remain among her papers at the Canadian Baptist Archives, including “The Heathen World,” a substantial non-fiction work that deals with the church’s obligation to carry the gospel to the heathen. Excerpts were published in the Canadian Missionary Link between 1886 and 1888.
Though praised by Dewart and of sufficient repute in her day to be included in Archibald MacMurchy’s Handbook of Canadian literature (English) (Toronto, 1906), Yule’s writing may strike the contemporary reader as somewhat artificial and didactic. Her work reflects the typical feelings and standards of Victorian Canada in matters ranging from nature to temperance, and all of her books are dominated by an entirely unreluctant Christianity expressed in a style modelled largely on Tennyson and Longfellow.
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