Esther Waters

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Charles Edward Mudie (1818—1890) founder of a circulating library


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A novel by G. Moore, published in 1894.

It is the story of the life of a religiously minded girl, a Plymouth Sister, driven from home into service at 17 by a drunken stepfather. She obtains a situation at Woodview, the house of the Barfields, where a racing‐stable is kept, and all above‐ and below‐stairs (except Mrs Barfield, a Plymouth Sister like Esther) are wrapped up in gambling on races. She is seduced by a fellow servant and has to leave. Poverty, hardship, and humiliation follow: the lying‐in hospital, service as wet‐nurse, even the workhouse, in her struggle to rear her child. Her seducer re‐enters her life and marries her. But he is a bookmaker and publican; exposure to weather at the races ruins his health and trouble with the authorities over betting at his public house causes the latter to be closed. He dies, and leaves his wife and son penniless. Finally Esther returns to Woodview, where she finds peace at last with Mrs Barfield, now a widow, living alone and impoverished in a corner of the old house.

Subjects: Literature.

Reference entries

George Moore (1852—1933) writer