Clemence Housman

(1861-1955)

English author, illustrator, and suffragette. Housman wrote her gothic novel The Were-Wolf  for a periodical's 1890 Christmas issue, which quickly sold out. Due to popular demand, the story was re-published as a book in 1896. 

After her mother died in 1871 (when she was about ten years old), Housman was required to step into domestic duties at an earlier age than usual, taking responsibility for her younger siblings and household. However, in her early twenties, she received a small legacy and decided to move to London. It was there that she was able to start living independently. She decided to study wood engraving, which she used to financially support herself by working for a variety of businesses, including the Illustrated London News.

With a keen interest in art, Housman formed friendships with some of the most prominent creative minds of her time, including William Thackery, John Everett Millais, and Edward Burne-Jones. In addition to her artistic career, Housman was an active feminist who contributed significant time and effort to the suffragette movement. In 1909, she co-founded 'Suffrage Atelier' with her brother, the author Laurence Housman.

'Suffrage Atelier' was a studio of artists, authors, and actors who collectively produced promotional material for the suffragette movement. Housman's specialty was creating printed and embroidered banners for protests (you can see her work in this Twitter thread). She also joined the Women's Tax Resistance League, a group of women who refused to pay tax in response to Parliament's refusal to give women the vote. In 1911, she was arrested for refusing to pay tax on a rental property in Dorset. 

In H. P. Lovecraft's essay 'Supernatural Horror in Literature', he remarked that her novel The Were-Wolf  "attains a high degree of gruesome tension and achieves to some extent the atmosphere of authentic folklore". A printed copy of this story (including illustrations by Punch magazine artist Everard Hopkins and her brother's subsequent artwork for the 1896 edition) is published in Valancourt Book's Terrifying Transformations: An Anthology of Victorian Werewolf Fiction, 1838-1896.