Biography of Ruth Manning-Sanders
Ruth Manning-Sanders (21 August 1886 – 12 October 1988) was a prolific British poet and author who was perhaps best known for her series of children's books in which she collected and retold fairy tales from all over the world. All told, she published more than 90 books during her lifetime.
Ruth Vernon Manning was the youngest of three daughters of John Manning, an English Unitarian minister. She was born in Swansea, Wales, but, when she was three, her family moved to Cheshire, England. As a child, she had a great interest in reading books on many topics. She and her two sisters wrote and acted in their own plays. She described her childhood as "extraordinarily happy ... with kind and understanding parents and any amount of freedom."
Manning-Sanders studied English literature and Shakespearean studies at Manchester University. She married English artist George Sanders in 1911 (they changed their name to Manning-Sanders) and spent much of her early married life touring Great Britain with a horse-drawn caravan and working in the circus (a topic she wrote about extensively). Eventually, the family moved into a cottage in the fishing hamlet of Land's End, Cornwall. She and her husband had two children together, one of whom, Joan Floyd (17 May 1913, to 9 May 2002), found some fame as a teenage artist in the 1920s while under her maiden name of Joan Manning-Sanders.
After the Second World War and the accidental death of her husband in 1952, Manning-Sanders published dozens of fairy-tale anthologies, mostly during the 1960s and '70s. Many of them had titles beginning with "A Book of..." Some titles, therefore, were A Book of Wizards, A Book of Dwarfs, and so forth.
Manning Sanders died in 1988 in Penzance, England.
In the February 1989 issue of The Junior Bookshelf, Marcus Crouch wrote, "For many long-lived writers, death is followed by eclipse. I hope that publishers will (continue to re-release Manning-Sanders') priceless treasury of folk-tales. We would all be the poorer for their loss."
Ruth Manning-Sanders Poems
The Soul And The Spirit Of The Race
When I went down the gallery, A million shapes of clay Stood in the selfsame way Upon their pedestàls of ebony,
As we sat in dim firelight, You and I, when starless night Pressed against the cottage wall, And the flames wrought webs of dreaming,
For me, your lover, life is a great room Scattered with your belongings, and I see Nothing you have not touched, and whoso comes Carries your messages, and who departs
Low in the road under the withering hedge They stand, the woman drearyand thin shouldered. The three small ragged boys,—and the white faces They lift to the high hedge are blotched with cold.
Coming up the path behold A pedlar bent and very old. With round dark eye, A black bag in his small right hand.
Now we in the small stable watched with Death, Death that stood hesitant, where rusty gold Old Stalwart's flanks gleamed dimly mid a throng Of crowding shadows; for the storm-lamp burned
Little ones, guileless ones, So fair and dainty. All the guests are gathered here. Come and acquaint ye.
Out of the clear starlight, Into a tunnel of night. Muffling closie, falling steep. Boughs stir above the place.
Hobbling, hobbling, hobbling, I am hobbling after you. Up the sunny little street Where your merry morning feet
The Old Horse In Autumn
Now for you again— Scanty blades and shrivelled clover. Dead leaves strewing a sad field over, Where you tread pools of rain,
To A Child
Once in a golden hour Spring brought a sign to you, For the dark house door stood open. And peeping through,
Now where the candles hke two praying angels. Slim, white, and golden aureoled, keep back The endless leagues of night. She in a luminous ring
When you, in journeying, shall reach earth's end, And climb aloft among the shaggy hills,— Those patient giants, seamed and scarred with age, That hold the sky in their unwearied arms,—
The Idiot Girl
She, with her old witch-face turned upward, stares, Frowning intent, her small hands still and folded Upon her snow-white pinafore that shields The fine red dress.—for this is Sunday evening.
Hobbling, hobbling, hobbling,
I am hobbling after you.
Up the sunny little street
Where your merry morning feet
Heed not what others do.
For a fairy dress of light
Hangs about your shoulders bright.
Darling, darling, darling,