(1853-1929) UK novelist and writer of children's stories; born Sophia Lucy Lane, she wrote as Mrs W K Clifford after the death of her husband, mathematics professor William Kingdon Clifford (1845-1879), whom she had married in 1875. Her struggle to raise her two children and survive on her own became a key theme in her fiction, and she caused early notoriety with Mrs Keith's Crime (1885), which advocated euthanasia for a dying child. She brought this same harsh reality to her children's stories, which are frequently sad and psychologically cruel. She drew her beliefs from the concepts of her husband, who opined that a person consisted of two personas: the physical mind, which was Reality, and the morality engendered by that individual, which was Perception. The significance and value of her children's stories are only now being rediscovered (see Children's Fantasy). Anyhow Stories for Children (coll 1882; exp vt Anyhow Stories, Moral and Otherwise 1899) contains the powerful "The New Mother", where a mother punishes her errant children by leaving them and sending a monstrous replacement, fear of meeting whom sends the children fleeing Into the Woods. It has been speculated that this story may have had an influence on Henry James, who was a friend of LLC's, in writing "The Turn of the Screw" (1898). The Last Touches and Other Stories (coll 1892) includes "Wooden Tony" (1890 English Illustrated Magazine), about a lazy boy whose idleness causes him to undergo a gradual Transformation until he becomes a Statue, in a bizarre reversal of the Pinocchio theme. LLC's well-earned success from her novels caused her to become a literary hostess and a friend of Rudyard Kipling, George Eliot (real name Mary Ann Evans; 1819-1880) and Mary E Braddon, who had encouraged her writing. [MA]
other works: Under Mother's Wings (coll 1885), Very Short Stories and Verses for Children (coll 1886), Dear Mr Ghost (1895 chap).
further reading: Chapter 6 of Not in Front of the Grown-Ups (1990) by Alison Lurie.
Lucy Lane Clifford