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Family Connections. A Letter & An Invite
5 January, 2018

Family Connections. A Letter & An Invite

We asked Bernard to give us some more detail about Willie and he has also given us some wonderful words about Mrs Doyle, which we just had to include!

Willie Hornung

"Willie Hornung left Uppingham early as a result of his ill health, and in particular because he suffered from asthma. He was sent to Australia and upon his return to Erdely, 404 Marton Road, Middlesborough in 1886, he found that the family home had been sold, and his eldest surviving brother Theodore desperately trying to turn the family business, J P Hornung & Son, around to pay off all the creditors. Willie then travelled to 49 Waldegrave Park, Twickenham, to find the family. His father was near bankruptcy, and had suffered a stroke. His brother Pitt Hornung had returned from Lisbon with his Portuguese wife, and two children, one of them being my grandfather who had been born in Erdely the previous February, a few weeks before the family moved out. Also in the house in Twickenham were his mother Harriett and sisters Bertha, now a young widow, Ida, and Harriett Susan.

Writing came easily to him and so he immediately embarked upon writing stories based upon his adventures in Australia, and in this process created the character "Stingaree." He was only 20 years old and supporting the entire family. Willie was one of the founder contributors to a magazine called the Idler, and another founder contributor was Dr Arthur Conan Doyle, which was how they first met. Subsequently Willie and Constance were married on 27 September 1893, and their only child Arthur Oscar was born in March 1895. He was Head of House and Captain of Games at Eton, before going up to Cambridge in August 1914. War broke out when he was receiving some private tutoring in Essex to brush up on his French, and he went immediately to the nearest recruiting office and enlisted in the Essex Regiment. The following July Oscar was killed.

His father, Willie Hornung, at the outbreak of war handed over his new car for military service, and volunteered to serve in an anti-aircraft battery in Kensington. He also began to get involved with the YMCA, and after his son's death volunteered to go to Flanders. In 1917 he set up a library and rest hut just behind the Front Line, and he kept a diary.

This was found about 10 years ago and has now been published by Mark Eccleston at the University of Birmingham.

Peter Rowland, the Hornung scholar and author of E W Hornung's biography, put me in touch with a distant cousin, Kim Sherwood, a great great great niece of Willie Hornung. Kim has written an introduction to the book launch, at which Kim will deliver an illustrated talk on her great great great uncle."

Mrs Doyle

"Constance Hornung, née Doyle is buried in the churchyard of the Church of Our Lady of Consolation and St Francis, at West Grinstead. Her mother rented a property from my great grandfather on the West Grinstead Estate. It was a small house near the Crawley and Horsham Hunt Kennels, just to the North of the A272, at West Grinstead on Kennel Lane.

Apparently Mrs Doyle, mother of Arthur, Innes and Constance was quite a character. When she was over 80, and with a figure like a feather bed, she never missed an opportunity to go to the seaside for a bathe. According to her own account she was almost blind, but she saw nearly everything she wished to see.

She was however rather a menace to herself and to others on the roads, as she drove around in a bath chair driven by a pony..."

Attend The Book Launch

Writing From The Jaws Of Death - The First World War Diaries of E.W Hornung will be launched at the Cavalry & Guards Club, London on Thursday 8 February 2018 at 7 p.m.

Tickets to include a reception after the talk are £20 per person. Secure your place HERE

All proceeds will go towards the War Memorial Windows being dedicated to the Portuguese fallen of the First World War, and to the last King of Portugal. This event forms part of a programme of several educational events being held throughout 2018, to remember Portugal’s contribution in the First World War, “Memorials for a King and a Country.”

Buy The Book

The book can be purchased for £8.99 HERE 

More Details & Buy Tickets To The Launch of Writing From The Jaws Of Death

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