Louisa Baldwin

(1845-1925)

Scottish author. Baldwin's fiction frequently appeared in magazines, and her ghost stories were collectively published in her book The Shadow on the Blind and other Ghost Stories (1895).

Baldwin was one of eleven children born to the Methodist minister George Browne Macdonald (1805–1868), and his wife Hannah (née Jones, 1809–1875). Her parents were well educated, and Baldwin and her siblings were educated by their mother and given free access to their father's library. Baldwin and her siblings grew up to become a very well-connected family: two of her sisters married artists (Edward Burne-Jones and Edward Poynter), one became the mother of Rudyard Kipling, and Louisa's own son would grow up to be Prime Minister of Britain on three occasions.

Baldwin has been described as a quiet woman who lacked self-confidence and had a reputation for being aloof. During her teenage years, she posed for Burne-Jone's artwork, began writing fiction and studied at the Wolverhampton School of Art. She became ill after giving birth to her son, which persisted for the rest of her life, although the cause of her illness (or name of her disability)* was never diagnosed, and so she spent a great deal of time resting in dark rooms and using a bath chair to move around. However, due to her condition, she was not expected to fulfil the usual domestic duties of a middle-class wife and was excused from such work. As a result of this, she was able to devote considerable time to writing fiction, studying languages, and reading. 

 

At 38 years old in 1883, Baldwin recovered her health and began working in her village as a Sunday school teacher, hosting classes for the wives of her husband's employees. However, her condition would gradually return, and by 1908 she permanently suffered from her debilitating symptoms. 

* I do not know enough about her diagnosis and symptoms to determine whether she had a medical condition, disease, or if she was disabled.

Sources: 

  • The Shadow on the Blind and other Ghost Stories (1895, with illustrations)

    • 'The Shadow on the Blind'

    • 'The Weird of the Walfords' 

    • 'The Uncanny Bairn: A Story of the Second Sight'

    • 'Many Waters Cannot Quench Love'​

    • 'How he Left the Hotel'

    • 'The Real and the Counterfeit'

    • 'My Next-door Neighbour' 

    • 'The Empty Picture Frame'

    • 'Sir Nigel Otterburne's Case'