Daisy Ashford

Margaret Mary Julia Devlin (née Ashford; 3 April 1881 – 15 January 1972), known as Daisy Ashford, was an English writer who is most famous for writing The Young Visiters, a novella concerning the upper class society of late 19th century England, when she was just nine years old.[1] The novella was published in 1919, preserving her juvenile spelling and punctuation. She wrote the title as "Viseters" in her manuscript, but it was published as "Visiters".[2]

Margaret Mary Julia Devlin
Daisy Ashford 1919.jpg
Ashford in 1919
Margaret Mary Julia Ashford

(1881-04-03)3 April 1881
Petersham, London, England
Died15 January 1972(1972-01-15) (aged 90)
Norwich, England
Notable work
The Young Visiters
Spouse(s)James Devlin (1920–1956; his death)


Early life and educationEdit

Daisy Ashford as a child

Daisy Ashford was born on 3 April 1881 in Petersham, Surrey, the eldest of three daughters born to Emma Georgina Walker and William Henry Roxburgh Ashford. She was largely educated at home with her sisters Maria Veronica 'Vera' (born 1882) and Angela Mary 'Angie' (born 1884).[1]


At the age of four Daisy dictated her first story, The Life of Father McSwiney, to her father; it was published in 1983.[3] From 1889 to 1896 she and her family lived at 44 St Anne's Crescent, Lewes, where she wrote The Young Visiters.[4] She wrote several other stories; a play, A Woman's Crime; and one other short novel, The Hangman's Daughter, which she considered to be her best work. Some stories written by Ashford are lost.

She stopped writing during her teens. In 1896 the family moved to the Wallands area of Lewes,[4] and in 1904 she moved with her family to Bexhill, and then to London where she worked as a secretary. She ran a canteen in Dover during the First World War. When published in 1919, The Young Visiters was an immediate success, and several of her other stories were published in 1920. She did not write in later years, although in old age she did begin an autobiography which she later destroyed.

Personal lifeEdit

In 1920, at the age of 38, Ashford married James Devlin with whom she had four children. They ran a flower-growing business near Norwich and later the King's Arms Hotel in Reepham for a year. Devlin died in 1956.[5]


She died on 15 January 1972 in Norwich, England, and was buried at Earlham Road Cemetery there.[1]


Edmund Wilson referred to the novel This Side of Paradise by his friend F. Scott Fitzgerald as "a classic in a class with The Young Visiters",[6] a way of deeming the style childish or naïve.

Published writingsEdit

  • The Young Visiters, or, Mr Salteena's Plan. London: Chatto and Windus, 1919
  • Daisy Ashford: Her Book: A Collection of the Remaining Novels. London: George H. Doran and Company, 1920
  • Love and Marriage: Three Stories. London: Hart-Davis, 1965
  • Where Love Lies Deepest. London: Hart-Davis, 1966
  • The Hangman's Daughter and Other Stories. Oxford University Press 1983 (Includes The Life of Father McSwiney)

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c "Daisy Ashford Is Dead at 90. Wrote 'Young Visiters' at 9". The New York Times. 18 January 1972.
  2. ^ "A Note on the text" in a 1989 edition of the book, Chatto & Windus, London ISBN 0-7011-2725-2
  3. ^ Ashford, Daisy (1983). The Hangman's Daughter and other stories. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780192814036.
  4. ^ a b The Culture Trail web site Archived 14 August 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ ""Ashford [married name Devlin], Margaret Mary Julia [Daisy]"". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. 2004. Retrieved 9 July 2019. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  6. ^ Mizener, Arthur (1965). The far side of paradise: a biography of F. Scott Fitzgerald, p. 369

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit