Gertrude McPherson and the Grey Cottage:
an interdisciplinary, biographical approach to life cycle development

                                                                    by Sue McPherson 2001
                     S.A.McPherson website:   

Gertrude McPherson’s novel, Grey Cottage, tells about an artist and the dilemma he faces, of how to maintain his independence and still have an intimate relationship. The book reflects McPherson’s concerns in her own life as she strove to pursue her passion for art and combine work with marriage and raising a family. This essay explores McPherson’s life and her novel, recounting information and anecdotes told by her daughters and drawing on public records about her life. Born in England in 1882, McPherson had been influenced by the women’s liberation movement as well as by her religious upbringing. In this study of her life and her novel I use knowledge and theories from the academic disciplines of psychoanalytic studies, gender/women’s studies, sociology, history and religious studies. The essay explores McPherson’s life as a woman and human being, her private and public lives and the overlap between them, and cultural and historical influences on he life, providing insight into the complexity of life cycle development.

On the cover of her novel, published in 1933, Gertrude McPherson is identified simply as G. McPherson. This non-gendered form of identification reflects McPherson’s concerns about men’s and women’s roles in society and her attempts to deal with these issues in her own life. There were many facets to McPherson’s identity as well as writer, including those of missionary, artist and teacher, suffragist, and wife and mother, and though her main passion was painting it is through her book, Grey Cottage 1, that she was able to provide insight into one of life’s main challenges - the theme of this essay.

The novel explores an artist’s period of self-questioning, and the eventual resolution of the dilemma of how to combine a social and public life with an intimate relationship and still maintain privacy and autonomy. This dilemma is similar to what she would have faced in her own life as she attempted to pursue her interests, marry and raise a family and, although McPherson lived during the post-Victorian era, the story is timeless and the challenge is one that men and women face today. In this essay, excerpts from her novel are interposed with stories told by her daughters, together with letters and information from public records 2. Through examining McPherson’s life and her novel, my aim is to unravel some of the complexities of women’s life cycle and socio/historical influences of the Victorian era. Following is a brief summary of her life:

One of ten children, Gertrude 3  was born in 1882 into the Briggs family 4  in Wakefield, Yorkshire. 
In 1908, at the age of 25, after training to be a missionary 5, she left England and went to Hong 
Kong to take up a mission. There, as she had in England, she taught art 6, and three years later,
in 1911, she married John McPherson 7, a Scottish-Canadian missionary posted to China. They
 had four children - a son, Angus, who died at an early age, and Elizabeth, Katherine and Lesley 8.  
Living first in Hong Kong, then on Cheung Chau Island, Gertrude painted and wrote for religious 
publications, returning to teaching as the three girls grew older. There were trips to England 
periodically, and in 1922 the family made an extensive journey, travelling to England and then 
to Forest, Ontario, where John had been born, before returning to China. 
Finally, in 1925, Gertrude returned with her three young daughters to England for good, while John remained in Hong Kong. The girls were enrolled at boarding school, and Gertrude concentrated on painting and writing her novel. She would have been in her late forties when she wrote Grey Cottage, which was published in 1933. Shortly after John had left to return to Hong Kong following a visit to England, in 1935, she had her first stroke. John received the news upon landing in Hong Kong and immediately returned to England, a six-week journey by ship, and made arrangements for her care. He then went back to Hong Kong to complete his work before returning finally in 1939. Once reunited, they lived together for eight years, in Tunbridge Wells, where John became active in war work. Gertrude died a year after John, in 1948, at the age of 65. 

I have used a psychoanalytic framework as the basis of this essay though my approach to it is interdisciplinary, and while the original lacks a feminist perspective it is relevant and appropriate as part of what I delve into, in the novel and Gertrude’s life, is the human condition and not solely Gertrude’s life as a woman. Thus, the three human needs, “the need to shape an identity, the need for merger and the fear of merger, and the need for an order in which the self can be contained, held,” as John Clayton describes 10, are used here as a framework for examining Gertrude’s life and the plight of the main character in the book, artist Michael Donnelly. 
Missionary, artist, woman . . . 

Even as she attempted to shape her identity under strict norms carried over from the Victorian era, Gertrude had a desire to be autonomous. Forming an identity is one of the three needs of humans, according to Clayton, and this process took place for Gertrude within a society that expected women to be feminine and which often treated women as inferior or subordinate. The concept of identity is complex, and the use of it here is limited to means of identification or positions, such as artist and author, and morality for as Richard Jenkins argues, "identity is bound up with cultural repertoires of intentionality such as morality, on the one hand and with networks of constraint and possibility, on the other." 11 

Gertrude had decided to become a missionary while in her teens, says her daughter Elizabeth, "in response to an appeal which was made impossible to refuse, on behalf of women, who, they were told, were without the inestimable privileges that Christianity had given to the West." At the age of twenty Gertrude applied to the London Missionary Society for service in the foreign field, describing in her letter to them how, two years after becoming a member of the Congregational Church, at the age of eight she had given "her heart and life definitely to Jesus Christ." 12 Reference letters, written on her behalf for her missionary application, describe her as having a strong character, enthusiasm, energy, and a cheerful nature, and as being conscientious and devoted to her duty 13.

In her letter to the London Missionary Society Gertrude mentions coming into contact with "new forces and new ideas" and going through a period of restlessness and doubt 14, an indication that she did not blindly accept her religion but was open to questioning her beliefs. According to Steven Mintz’s work on Victorian family life, it was typical for children to be "preoccupied during their young adulthood with...questions of religious belief. All sought a faith that would be consistent with the evidences of their own feelings." 15 At this point in her life, as a young woman preparing to train as a foreign missionary, what she had learned in her family life, through the church, and her schooling gave her what she needed to make sense of the world.

                                Knowledge about Gertrude’s involvement with the women’s movement is scant, although each of her 
                                daughters has mentioned this aspect of her life. Elizabeth writes that, from childhood, Gertrude resented
                                the attitude towards women and "in her teens became interested in the suffragette movement." Lesley 
                                writes, "Gertrude was an active suffragist, though not a militant suffragette because she had Angus, our
                                elder brother, and could not risk prison." 16 And according to Katherine, when Lesley was born, in 1918,
                                the doctor said to Gertrude, "There’s another woman to help you with women’s lib." It is possible that
                                Gertrude was involved with the women’s movement in England before she went out to Hong Kong, and 
                                that she reconnected on visits home. There may have been periods when she was unable to participate
                                actively, such as when she had a young son to care for, but from what is known of her it would appear
                                that feminist principles played a part in guiding her everyday life.

As well as writing for religious publications and magazines, Gertrude continued to develop as an artist while living in China, painting and lecturing on art in Chinese at Canton Christian College. Elizabeth tells of her mother holding an art exhibition jointly with the Chinese painter Ko K’ei Fung at the college. In accordance with the aims of the early feminist movement, of ending the sex distinction, it seems Gertrude had wanted to have the same opportunities as men and to be treated as a man. Masculinity was seen as superior to femininity, and feminism had not yet examined in depth the everyday experiences of women, the relationship between biology and gendered social roles, and what has been considered by some to be gendered differences in ways of thinking. Writing the novel, and using the artist Michael to convey her own thoughts, was one way Gertrude could temporarily escape her feminine role, and enable her to express her views on art and religion, and men’s and women’s intimate, social and public roles. 

Her book was published with the name G. McPherson as author, possibly because women authors
 often were not recognised as authentic authors and it was necessary for them to find ways around 
this limitation. Although books by women were being published, and Virginia Woolf is one from the 
same period whose works gained recognition, it was still not that easy for women in general to 
have their work accepted, nor did they have the same opportunities as men. Hiding the fact that 
she was a woman may have been a necessity for Gertrude in order to have the book published or 
to gain readership. On the other hand, it may also have pleased her to engage in a strategy of 
ambiguity, as a test to her readers.

Katherine describes her mother’s reaction to being mistaken for a male author by one of her readers, explaining that, following the publishing of her book, one of Gertrude’s fans wrote to her, believing her to be a man, wanting her to read his manuscript. Apparently, she wrote back with great delight, explaining that she was a woman, and he decided to send the manuscript anyway. A rather dubious way of asserting her independence, at least from our perspective now, was Gertrude’s proud claim, says Katherine, that she was one of the first women to smoke and ride a bicycle at the same time. Smoking was a sign of masculinity and of independence, and Gertrude wanted to be accepted as equal to men. Setting this one example aside, Gertrude attempted to present the middle-class ideal of masculinity - independence and participation in the public sphere, creating an image and an identity that was acceptable to herself and society. 

The novel itself also involves a crossing-over of gender boundaries in a blend of fact and fiction. Lesley tells about the main character in her mother’s novel, saying, "You could take Michael Donnelly’s attitude to his work to be Gertrude’s, in the concentration, the perfectionism and the central position in her life. The pictures she describes as Michael’s in the book are her pictures." Michael, the artist, was the vehicle through which Gertrude was able to express her views on art, and using the male voice would have given her more credibility. 

The experience of motherhood, or parenthood, in an artist’s life, that Gertrude had experienced, is absent from Michael’s character. When Elizabeth and Katherine went to school, at the college where their mother painted and lectured on art, Lesley was still young, being cared for by her Chinese amah. The ideal of the liberal feminist view of Gertrude’s era was that women be treated the same as men and have the same rights, but this theory can invalidate women’s experiences. Raising children was still the mother’s responsibility, and Gertrude sets this issue off to the side in the story, in the home of Margaret’s brother, where Margaret lives a harried existence looking after the family. Making Margaret’s oppressive home life a side issue to Michael’s dilemma is a way of acknowledging it as problematic yet keeping the main theme of the book, independence and intimacy, at the centre.

Throughout the book Michael expresses dissatisfaction with women’s place in society. One particular incident in the novel is of significance, and may have reflected Gertrude’s changing views on religion as well as on gender inequality. On a visit to Margaret’s home, Michael inadvertently joins a religious meeting, having been directed by the maid to the meeting room by mistake. He takes a seat and is drawn to the Bible story, told by the clergyman, of Martha and Mary, in which Jesus is telling Martha that few things are needful 17. Not realizing that the subject of the meeting was "Our Responsibility to the Women of China," Michael misinterprets the clergyman’s meaning and blunders into making comments about lavish meals that women are expected to cook for men, sending a shiver across the room as he announces to the group, "Though we men pretend to approve of women’s emancipation from domestic slavery, individually we make it as difficult as possible for them. The only country in which I have ever been where men really prefer their women to be engaged in intellectual work, rather than in domestic matters, and have never put one single barrier in the way of the modern woman’s rise to freedom, is China." 18 Michael’s claim, if indeed it reflected Gertrude’s view, can be explained by her position in Chinese society. While in Hong Kong, as a missionary, and later married to a missionary, she would be held in high esteem and would not be subject to, or perhaps even aware of, limitations in the lives of Chinese women. 

When Gertrude’s book was published in England it was given the title Few Things are Needful 19, possibly to ensure that it would have wider appeal in Victorian England, at this time when religion was a major influence, also giving Gertrude justification for writing it since writing as a moral mission provided middle-class women writers with legitimacy. Mary Jean Corbett, writing on middle-class subjectivity of that era, states that "the discourse of Evangelical religion both affirms and denies women’s position as individual subjects by granting them voices but putting them in the service of a conservative ideology of femininity." 20

Instead of adhering strictly to traditional religious ideology and conservative femininity, the message Gertrude’s book sends out is delicately resistant. Raising the issue of few things are needful is just one example. The phrase is seen to hold either a spiritual or a secular meaning, as A. R. Main explains in his 1928 study of ambiguous texts 21. Michael has taken the secular meaning, referring to food rather than emphasising spiritual needs as the few things, or the one thing that is needful. The secular interpretation of this passage, however, is not altogether in opposition to religion, and is used in some versions of the Bible while others keep to the traditional version in this continuing controversy 22. Gertrude raises the issue in her novel, although her own personal views on it cannot be known for certain.

The question for Gertrude would seem to be how to reconcile being both a missionary and a suffragist. Contradictory paradigms for identity, such as religion and feminism, are in tension unless there is a means of negotiating the relationship between them, as Corbett explains 23. In her view, writing autobiography can be the solution, and although Gertrude’s book does not fall within the paradigm of autobiography, to some extent her fiction was a form of self-representation 24. Gertrude had become a missionary and had married, but she also challenged the boundaries of domesticity and religion by pursuing her interests in art and writing and attempting to maintain independence within her marriage. Writing fiction, rather than autobiography, enabled Gertrude to step out of her identity to some degree, although it was also the means by which she could express her moral principles and personal values and give shape to her identities. 
John & Gertrude with
daughter Katherine
Intimacy and personal relationships 

The second of Clayton’s human needs is the need for merger and a fear of merger 25, which in this essay will be defined as relations between individuals or between the individual and the wider society, and involving both independence and dependence. While there are gender differences in the way these are experienced and thought about, the need to merge, and the fear, are part of being human, and historically and culturally situated. 

Throughout the book Michael struggles with the dilemma of how to combine his private world of ideas and art with the world of people. A friend questions his solitary existence, in his cottage by the sea, and advises him, saying, “You have been shutting yourself away from human life in that secret place which is made to be, which should be, the home of your spirit only. You have made it the boundary of your living, whereas it should be the centre only.” 26 

In her own life, Gertrude had struggled with her need for connection to others and her need for privacy and solitude. There were times when she had wanted to escape the social world, as when she instigated the move from Hong Kong to Cheung Chau, an island off Hong Kong, one mile by two miles long. Theirs was the only house on one of the two hills, with a beautiful wild garden, Elizabeth recalls, full of colour and eucalyptus trees, and a particularly beautiful bed of roses next to the path leading up to the front door. She explains, “On a certain day every year a Chinese family would come and sit on our rose-bed, to do honour to their ancestors who were buried there. When a friend asked Gertrude why she allowed it she always replied: ‘After all the ancestors were there first, and are probably responsible for the beauty of our flowers’!” But, as Elizabeth tells, eventually Gertrude left “the isolation and freedom of Cheung Chau,” to teach at Canton Christian College, returning to the island for the holidays. 

Gertrude travelled to England in 1922, with her children, to visit her mother and her sisters, Ethel and Jessie, who had been chosen to be caretakers for their mother 27. It upset Gertrude, says Elizabeth, that they “were destined to dedicate their lives to looking after their mother.” It was quite usual at this time in history for spinsters to have the responsibility of caring for their aging parents. Diana Gittins, writing about that period, explains that “women’s patterns of dependency have been mediated, above all, by marital status. Thus a single woman who lived with her parent(s) owed her primary allegiance to, and was by law dependent on, her father (or mother or brother or uncle, depending on circumstances) and the dictates of that family household.” 28

Once again, after returning to England to live permanently, Gertrude seemed to want solitude, and the house at Birchington-on-Sea provided this for her. Lesley says that “her real time for painting and for writing was when we were away at school, when her life was centred in the solitude she needed for her work,” and in a further letter remarks that Gertrude’s “shunning of social contact was more than is usual.” 29 Katherine adds that “she had nothing in common with her acquaintances and deplored the idea of going to bridge parties, etc.” She describes also how at one point Gertrude rented a cottage intending to work there in peace, and to ensure her privacy for the summer bought a car for £5 for her three teenage daughters and saw them off on a tour of England. Much to her disappointment the relic broke down and they turned up on her doorstep. Thankfully, however, once the repairs were completed they were on their way again, leaving her in peace to paint and continue the writing of her novel. 

Gertrude had been inspired to write Grey Cottage by an experience she had while living on Cheung Chau Island, Katherine says. Out walking one evening she had come across a cottage, and on the verandah, in the darkness, were several people deep in conversation. They invited her to join them and the group began to meet in the evenings, engaging in discussions and the telling of stories about their lives, while remaining strangers to one another.
Michael was portrayed in the book as struggling with his desire for intimacy and his reluctance to become involved with others, at times even resentful towards intrusion into his life. At first, during their conversations in the darkness on the verandah, Michael, Owen and Katherine remained aloof from one another, sharing stories from their lives and attempting to unravel life’s dilemmas, as strangers, with real lives to go back to at the end of the evening. But before long their lives became intertwined. 

In Grey Cottage, Gertrude raises issues about sexual relationships between men and women in discussions and encounters in the characters’ lives. These discussions between Michael and his friends, throughout the book, include the social and moral obligations of sex, casual sex, promiscuity, love affairs, monogamy, women’s sexual power, sexual abstinence, and unappeased desire. Only to a lesser extent are there descriptions of their sexual experiences, and none of these are of explicit sex acts. Much remains unsaid in most of her descriptions of intimate sexual encounters in the novel. Rather, what takes place is often left to the reader’s imagination. 

There is very little information on Gertrude’s private life with which to connect these stories from the book, but they are an indication of her concerns, her interest in relationships between men and women, and her ways of perceiving the world. She wrote Grey Cottage at a time when many women would not have had freedom to explore their sexuality, discuss the subject openly, or behave in ways that might possibly be misconstrued, at the risk of damaging their husband’s or their own reputation. Gertrude’s own behaviour apparently raised eyebrows in the community, says Katherine, when her publisher stayed over the weekend at her home and they were seen purchasing two bottles of wine to celebrate her novel being published. 

One particular incident of a sexual nature in the novel is described in great detail, and Gertrude has approached it with sensitivity, treating it as a natural part of human relationships involving misunderstandings, conflicting emotions, and different needs. Katherine has a chance encounter with Owen, finding herself alone with him one evening near the deserted cottage. At first she was frightened of him, then comforted by his presence, then felt frightened again, but managed to talk her way out of the situation going farther, sexually, than she wanted. Feeling uncomfortable about Owen, and the possibility of future repercussions, she discloses the incident to Michael who tries to provide a solution for her ambivalence towards Owen in this excerpt from Grey Cottage: 

He said:

“I have been wondering lately if fitness, rather than beauty, isn’t the best guide to life, as it is to art.” He went on to talk of backgrounds, of shutting out of one’s life all those events and contacts which did not contribute to, and were not in harmony with, the central theme. “It’s not enough that the thing should be beautiful in itself,” he said; “if it isn’t beautiful in its relation to the rest of one’s life it must be eliminated.” 

“No,” said Katherine very loudly and clearly. . . . “For how can you fit everything together when there are other people, and they don’t fit? You can’t make people different from what they are. I can’t explain properly, but how can you shut out all the ugly and unfitting things unless you shut out people too?” 30 

She tried then to explain that the incident with Owen had given her something. “What has it given you?” Michael asked. “It has given me - experience,” said Katherine, and Michael responded, “I suppose you mean experience in love-making?” “Oh, no,” said Katherine, “Experience in getting out of love-making.”  31

Not simply a matter of rational decision-making, the unnerving episode had involved for Katherine an abrupt switch from perceiving her embrace with Owen as “natural and sweet” to feeling “shocked, outraged, humiliated” that a man she scarcely knew was holding her so closely 32. Although Owen had done nothing to bring on this change in her perceptions but was simply continuing to hold her in his arms, he immediately reacted to her abrupt withdrawal, closing his arms more tightly around her, “like iron bands,” and whispering “Don’t go, little girl. Stay with me.” 33

In her analysis of mixed sexual signaling in male/female relations, Peggy La Cerra describes similar shifts of positive and negative responses, although her interpretation is that these are intentional, and part of mating strategy 34. Gertrude has Katherine and Owen relating in detail their thoughts and feelings throughout this sexualized encounter in a manner that reveals historical and cultural forces at work, and physical and unconscious aspects of sexuality 35.  

Insights about the process Gertrude went through in making decisions, or how she thought about her life as a woman and an artist are limited, but the novel reveals some of what she knows. Michael gets pulled into the situation between Owen and Katherine and uses theories on art, beauty and harmony to try and find a solution for Katherine. But before the end of the book he finds himself in a situation that leaves him feeling overwhelmed. 

Michael finds himself thinking of Margaret, with a sudden poignant longing for her to return to the cottage. He is drawn to her, as she is to him, by their shared artistic perceptiveness, and eventually he asks her to marry him. She assures him that marriage between them would not work, for she is the Grey Cottage to him and “two spirits can never be made one.” 36 And as he holds her he realizes that he is no longer detached from society but has become “bound up with his fellow men in the bundle of life,” and now “he, too was suffering deprivation, loss, unappeased desire.”  37

According to Arthur Kleinman and Joan Kleinman, the existence of “birth, life cycle changes, moral development, death and bereavement,” mediated by culture and history, are the conditions of being human.” 38 Changes in individual psyches are often invisible and very complex, and so are difficult to express, as with Michael’s experience with Margaret and with attempts to explore the emotional and personal aspects of Gertrude’s life, especially as often these are not talked about publicly. Elizabeth says, however, that “she [Gertrude] had a natural aptitude of sharing involuntarily the feelings of those around her even to the extent of actual discomfort and pain,” a capacity similar to that described by Michael in his life-changing encounter with Margaret. 

There are few references to the kind of relationship Gertrude shared with John, although Elizabeth tells that Gertrude grew up in a time when, in family life, “it was taken for granted that women were born to be subservient to men, that they must lean on, and depend on men, [show] deference to the men in the family.” In spite of this general attitude towards women, and “though John may not have been very sensitive to Art, he gave Gertrude all the support and freedom she needed.” Gertrude had received several proposals of marriage before marrying John, Katherine says, and one man she had met on the ship on her way to China sent her chocolates every Easter, remaining a friend throughout her marriage. Elizabeth says about her mother that they were not close until they returned to England, when she became a “real friend, . . . totally understanding, reasoning, appreciative, [and] imaginative.” But they were never very close to John, she says. All they knew and experienced was “his enormous tolerance, courage and the very high regard he was held in Hong Kong.”

During the Victorian and Edwardian eras women were expected to marry, and although married life brought with it restrictions, it also allowed middle class women a certain amount of freedom, financial stability and status. Pat Jalland 39 argues that during this period love was inspired by judgement rather than passion. Partners had to be suitable first, and it was usual for men to be settled in their careers before they married. Although these criteria may not necessarily have applied to every situation, Gertrude was twenty-eight and John, whom she praised as “a man of sterling character and extraordinary fineness,” says Elizabeth, was thirty-five and had been settled in Hong Kong for six years before they married. 

Several months after emerging from the life-changing episode with Margaret, Michael finally achieves resolution of his dilemma and begins a relationship with Katherine, on the understanding that at times he would return to the cottage when he needed to be alone with his thoughts or pursue his interest in art. The book ends there, with Michael asking Katherine to join him and the two of them leaving the cottage together.

There is a final meaning to the phrase - the need to merge and the fear of merging - and Clayton tells of its significance in terms of a “return to the dark, the dark with no boundaries, with no self, a darkness associated with the peace of death.” 40 Gertrude and John had lived on different continents for several years after Gertrude brought the children back to England, with John visiting for a few months every three years, Lesley recalls. When Gertrude became seriously ill due to having a stroke, John finished up his work in Hong Kong and returned to England for good. Gertrude and John lived together for another eight years until John died, in his early seventies, followed by Gertrude’s death about a year later, at age sixty-five. 

On talking with Elizabeth, Katherine and Lesley 41, in their eighties at the time of this writing, I discovered more about Gertrude’s life as a widow. After John died, she lived alone in the flat they had shared. At sixty-five, she was not very old and not in need of continual care, although Katherine said she did maintain a housekeeper. Lesley said that neither Elizabeth nor Katherine had access to a car, and both had young children, Elizabeth also being pregnant, circumstances which made visiting difficult. It was also less common at that time to communicate by telephone. Lesley, however, despite having a full-time job and being recently married, made regular visits during the time up until the time she died. In Elizabeth’s view, Gertrude considered her relationship with her husband to be more important than her work, although she continued to paint and was preparing to hold an exhibition in London when she died. 
An order in which the self can be contained, held

As Gertrude went through her adult years she experienced, on the one hand, intimacy, companionship, family and social life through being married to John, and on the other, a drive to paint and learn about art and to teach it 42. These two areas - marriage and art - were sources of order which gave direction to her life, through which, Clayton might argue, Gertrude could feel contained, held. The novel was a third source of order and, having been written at midlife, very likely was a means of drawing together and telling about those issues in her life that held the most significance for her. 

These two sources of order that structured her life - marriage and her work, are usually 
equated with the private and the public spheres respectively, although the overlap 
between them and the significance of each of them to Gertrude makes this distinction 
debatable. Through marriage to John, Gertrude would have had all those things that 
come with it, including the opportunity for intimacy, companionship and social life, and 
the responsibility for the efficient running of the home and the raising of three daughters. 
Her enthusiasm for art opened up possibilities for painting, teaching, and discovering all 
that she could about it. Art was not just work for her. It was also one of the main parts of 
her private life.

Gertrude led a privileged life, due to her background and her social standing in Hong Kong as John’s wife, in their home with a tennis court - the highest house on Victoria Peak - with a fabulous view across the harbour and the mountains in the distance, the use of the Governor’s sedan chair to climb the high hill, and with servants to help in the home, Elizabeth explains. Chinese amahs took care of the children, enabling Gertrude to develop her skills in painting and writing at home, and teach throughout her married life. She had taught art in England and continued to do so in China, lecturing in Chinese, and held exhibitions of her art in both countries. 

Eventually Gertrude returned to England to live, while John remained in Hong Kong. It was the custom to bring children back, or send them, at about the age of eleven or twelve, to England or America to receive an education 43, and Gertrude selected a "Progressive School" for her daughters, "the only one of its kind in England," writes Katherine 44. Unlike Hong Kong, without servants Gertrude was unable to paint during the holidays when the girls were home but had to take an active role in running the house 45. Lesley comments, "I suppose her life in those years was really cut in two, term and holidays."

But when term began again and her daughters returned to school, Gertrude painted and wrote. Lesley tells how "a lot of her pictures give the impression of dusk or half light," with grey and yellow being the predominant colours. The subdued tones, then, would seem to reflect the atmosphere of the stone cottage on the edge of the marshes, and the seashore at dusk, and the "grey and gold . . . mist and sunshine," 46 as described in her book. Lesley mentions Gertrude’s loneliness, saying, "You can see it in her pictures." 47

In Grey Cottage, Michael announces, "You can only reach sanity and peace through expression in some form of art. I have begun to see lately that you can’t choose the picture you will make of your life, but you can choose the picture you will make from your life. In art you can take every beastly thing that happens to you, every sickening disappointment, every ugly reality, as well as every loveliness and every joy, and use them, or the emotion they generate, in the creation of significant form." 48 Lesley remembers a picture of Gertrude’s, The Sea Pool, and the picnic spot where it was painted, where the marshes met the sea, and where they had enjoyed breakfast at sunrise. But Gertrude may also have used her painting to deal with painful events such as the death of her son 49, the accident with quick-lime that left her leg badly scarred, becoming paralyzed on her left side through a stroke at age fifty-three, or any number of things that women, or humans, experience in their daily lives. She had attempted to do her painting and drawing after her stroke, Lesley says, but never fully recovered the use of her arm and leg or her full strength and drive. 

Clayton describes human beings’ writing as "expressions of pain and as complex gestures of healing to handle that pain." 50  His purpose in writing Gestures of Healing was to explore the ways the authors of great novels - Joseph Conrad, Ernest Hemingway, D. H. Lawrence, Virginia Woolf and others - used their writing to cope with their lives, and to show how their pain was expressed and given shape in their fiction 51. He spoke of seeing "any expressive art as an attempt to end discords in its creator." 52

Lesley speaks of Gertrude’s paintings as carrying emotion, but carrying it in such a way that emotion is not expressed openly as such. "Gertrude constantly talks of ‘significant form’," says Lesley, "actual physical line or shape carrying feeling or emotion, and the recognition of this is the true aesthetic emotion." In this way, the paintings might have served a purpose, of carrying emotion and creating order in Gertrude’s life, as suggested by Clayton’s theory, although the ways in which emotion is expressed seem to be quite varied and can be indirect, as in Gertrude’s paintings, or addressed in a more direct manner, as in her book. "The desire to create," Lesley continues," is an extraordinary thing and can be entirely divorced from any kind of social motivation. . . . The desire for success or the desire to do good may co-exist with it, but these things are separate." 53  She describes a painting at one of Gertrude’s exhibitions "that caused a good deal of comment and misunderstanding." She recalls, "It was called From the Prow and was a view looking down the hull of a ship at the bow wave. ‘Is it a roof on fire?’ they said." 

When Gertrude wrote Grey Cottage she was middle-aged, a time when many men and women become aware of their own mortality, starting to see life "in terms of time-left-to-live rather than time-since-birth," as Bernice L. Neugarten phrases it 54, and reflecting on the significance of their lives thus far, what the future might hold, and what is important to them. Middle-age has come to be seen as a time for "taking stock" and for "self-development" mainly since the Second World War, according to Jane Pilcher 55, although the writing of the book for Gertrude may well have been a means, at least in part, of drawing together and making sense of her life experience. 

Middle adulthood is also a time for "generativity," by which guidance and care is offered to the next generation, or a time for "self-absorption," a less desirable trait as described by Erik Erikson in his model of the psychosocial stages of human development 56. The main characters in Grey Cottage are youthful compared to Gertrude, and would be at the level of Erikson’s young adulthood stage, when the developmental task is "intimacy versus isolation." The novel may have been Gertrude’s legacy, a means of passing on what she has learned to the next generation, since she has Michael, in particular, working through his concerns about intimacy and independence at a time when she herself, although living on a different continent than her husband, must have felt firmly established in her marriage of twenty years. 

Changes across generations

The act of writing as a means of expressing emotions related to life experience and of achieving harmony with the world has been suggested in Clayton’s literary/psychoanalytic analysis of writers and in Gertrude’s story of an artist. The book was also the means by which Gertrude could offer, not only ambiguities of gender and religion to contemplate, and her views on art, but startlingly clear interpersonal situations and references to social issues in the areas of religion, women’s place in society, independence, and intimacy between men and women. 

In the final pages of Grey Cottage, Michael’s decision to begin a relationship with Katherine is a turning point in his life. There the story ends, with the basic needs of humans - identity, merging and order - as described by Clayton, having been met. While the main theme of the book is "intimacy and independence," the emphasis is placed on marriage in particular, with one of the characters expressing the view that, as well as marriage being less hampering to real talent, "the right kind of marriage is the only possible form of sexual freedom. It is complete licence restrained by love, which is the only liberty worth having in any sphere." 57  Fiction is neater than the sometimes chaotic reality of life and usually requires, if not a happy ending, at least an ending that is conclusive, and Grey Cottage provides that, with just a hint that the story of Michael’s struggle remains unfinished.

Gertrude’s life was structured to a large extent by marriage and, remembering the time in which she lived, we would have to acknowledge that marriage for her, more than likely, was a commitment for life. The life span was shorter then and, based on life expectancy patterns, when she married she could expect to live to only age sixty or so 58. Divorce was extremely rare, marriage more often being ended by the death of one or other partner 59. Making the right choice the first time would have been important for these reasons too. But in Western society today, with divorce easily available, remarriage commonplace, and increasing acceptance of diverse lifestyles, different types of families, and the right to pursue sexual and gender fulfilment in a variety of ways, together with the expectation of a longer life, the marriage-for-life concept has almost completely lost its status and place of recognition.

Shulamit Reinharz questions the priority of writing about only women’s achievements in the public sphere, to the exclusion of their private lives. Sometimes this is done at the request of the subject herself, for the sake of privacy and possibly to prevent her private life being highlighted, but the result is not a full biography, she argues, and provides little insight into the influence of social forces on the subject’s life 60. Also, the emphasis on paid work and public contribution as being of more value than family and personal relationships neglects an important part of life, and I suggest that examining connections between the public and private can lead to greater understanding of the diverse ways women find fulfilment in their lives. Gertrude received recognition of her art through holding exhibitions 61, and reviews of her novel appeared in newspapers and magazines in England and the United States 62, but painting, and writing too, would have been a much valued part of Gertrude’s own personal life, as I have indicated in this essay. 

Writing about masculinity, Anthony Clare expresses his concern about the private/public divide and the need for men to reconcile the intimate and the impersonal, and to become more capable of expressing vulnerability and affection. He suggests, not a need for a "new man" in the image of woman, but a need for a man who "employs his physical, intellectual and moral strength not to control others but to liberate himself, not to dominate but to protect, not to worship achievement but to enlist it in the struggle to find meaning and fulfilment." 63  "A century ago," he argues, "to be a man meant to be a leader in public life, a patriarch at home," a stereotype which still influences social expectations of what it means to be male 64. John McPherson, living one hundred years ago, although a leader in public life falls outside this stereotype to some extent, his relationship with Gertrude being complex and not one where he was in a position of dominance. 

In 1935, a few years after writing Grey Cottage, Gertrude suffered a stroke with a resulting 
paralysis that, Elizabeth says, was an "agony of humiliation" for her. Art had been her lifelong
 passion and one of the mainstays in her life and she relied on it to sustain her. It had also been 
one of the keys to her independence and life in the wider world. Katherine remembers her
 father had written to the three of them after first hearing of their mother’s stroke, saying "he
 would see them soon and that he loved them all." The letter came as a surprise to her, she 
said, as he had often seemed quite distant.

The novel Gertrude wrote and material contributed by others indicate that like many women - and men, Gertrude had to contend with the internal struggle of deciding what was important to her and what she was willing to give up, finding ways of living within the structure of society, accepting the inevitable disappointments and losses, and finding her own way of creating her life and her own sense of self. As Gittins suggests, understanding women’s position in society necessitates examining the "often complicated ways in which work, marriage and kinship are woven together in a perplexingly intricate tapestry," 65 a strategy that also takes into account changes across the life cycle. 


“An Artist and His Visitors By the Sea.” Review of Grey Cottage, by G. McPherson. Springfield 
Republican, 6 August 1933.
Boston Evening Transcript. Review of Grey Cottage, by G. McPherson, 9 August 1933, 2.
Christian Century. Review of Grey Cottage, by G. McPherson, 16 August 1933.
Clare, Anthony. On Men: Masculinity in Crisis. London: Chatto & Windus, 2000.
Clayton, John J. Gestures of Healing: Anxiety and the Modern Novel. Amherst: U of Massachusetts P.1991.
Coleman, David. “Population,” in British Social Trends Since 1900, ed. A. H. Halsey. 
London: Macmillan, [1972] 2nd edition 1988, 36-134.  
Commonweal, Review of Grey Cottage, by G. McPherson, 13 October 1933.
Corbett, Mary Jean. Representing Femininity: Middle-Class Subjectivity in Victorian and Edwardian 
Women’s Autobiographies. New York: Oxford University Press, 1992.
Erikson, Erik H., Joan M. Erikson and Helen Q. Kivnick. Vital Involvement in Old Age. New York and London, W. W. Norton & Company, 1986.
Fulham, Katherine. Personal interview. 13 June 1992. 
----------Telephone conversation, 20 November 1999.
Fulham, Michael. Personal genealogy, 1992. 
Gili, Elizabeth. Letter, 23 July 1992.
----------Telephone conversation 17 December 1999.
Gittins, Diana. “Marital Status, Work and Kinship, 1850-1930,” in Labour and Love, ed. Jane Lewis. 
Oxford: Blackwell Publishers, 1986.
Edward F. King James Version Defended. 1956, 4th Edition Feb. 1984.
<> (27 January 2001).
----------King James Defended. 4th Edition Aug. 1997.
<> (27 January 2001).
Holloway, Wendy. “Gender Differences and the Production of Subjectivity,” in Feminism and Sexuality, 
eds. Stevi Jackson and Sue Scott. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1996. 
Horrocks, Roger. An Introduction to the Study of Sexuality. Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1997.
Jalland, Pat. Women, Marriage, and Politics: 1860-1914. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1986.
Jenkins, Richard. Social Identity. London and New York: Routledge, 1996.
Kleinman, Arthur and Joan. “Suffering and Its Professional Transformation: Toward an Ethnography of 
Interpersonal Experience,” 15, 3,(Sept.) 1991, Culture,Medicine and Psychiatry, 275-301. 
La Cerra, Peggy. “Gender-specific Differences in Evolved Mating ‘Strategies’: the Evolutionary Basis of 
Sexual Conflict,” Sexuality and Culture, vol. 1, Sexual Harassment and Sexual Consent, Barry Dank and Roberto Refinetti, eds. New Brunswick, USA and London, UK, 1997, 151-173. 
London Missionary Society. File on Gertrude Briggs (McPherson), 1904-1908, London.
“Love in a Cottage.” Review of Grey Cottage, by Gertrude McPherson. New York Times, 30 July 1933, 7. 
Main, A. R. “The One Thing Needful.” Messages from the Word: Studies in Ambiguous Texts 1928. 
<> (27 January 2001).
McPherson, G. [Gertrude] Grey Cottage. New York: Macmillan Publishing, 1933. London edition 
(L.Dickson) has title Few Things are Needful.
McPherson, Klim and David Coleman. “Health,” in British Social Trends Since 1900, ed. A. H. Halsey. 
London: Macmillan, [1972] 2nd edition 1988, 398-461.
Meyers, Diana Tietjens. “Miroir, Memoire, Mirage: Appearance, Aging, and Women,”Mother Time: Women, 
Aging, and Ethics, Margaret Urban Walker, ed. New York; Oxford: Rowman & Littlefield, 1999.
Mintz, Steven. A Prison of Expectations: The Family in Victorian Culture. New York: NYUP, 1983.
Neugarten, Bernice L. “The Awareness of Middle Age,” Middle Age and Aging, Bernice L. Neugarten, ed.
London and Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1968.
New Statesman and Nation. Review of Few Things are Needful, by G. McPherson, 10 June 1933.
Pilcher, Jane. Age and Generation in Modern Britain. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 1995.
Reader, Lesley. Letter, 19 June 1992.
----------Letter, 7 June 1993.
----------Telephone conversation, 12 November 1999.
Reinharz, Shulamit. “Feminist Biography,” The Narrative Study of Lives: Exploring Identity and Gender, 
Amia Lieblich and Ruthellen Josselson, eds. London: Sage, 1994.
Saturday Review of Literature. Review of Grey Cottage, by G. McPherson, 29 July 1933.
Times Literary Supplement. Review of Few Things are Needful, by G. McPherson, 22 June 1933.

                                                                      For more on Gertrude McPherson see
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1. ​ G. [Gertrude] McPherson, Grey Cottage, (New York: Macmillan Publishing, 1933); London edition (L.Dickson) has title Few Things are Needful. Michael Donnelly is a young man in his early thirties, an artist who lives a solitary life painting and contemplating in his cottage by the sea. Unwittingly Michael becomes involved with three strangers who happen by - Margaret, Owen, and Katherine. He opens up his cottage and thereby his life to these outsiders and then resents them because they are impinging on his freedom and drawing him into the world of people. He attempts to resolve this problem of how to combine the world of ideas with the social world, and the dilemma of whether or not to enter into a relationship, and whether it would be with Margaret or Katherine. The book tells of this attempt to come to terms with integrating his work, his social world and a meaningful relationship and still keep a part of his life separate from these.
2.   My research into Gertrude McPherson's life began over a decade ago with conversations about her book and paintings with her daughter - my mother Katherine Fulham, and information from my brother's personal genealogical work. Katherine's two sisters have also contributed, through telephone conversations and letters written of their recollections of their mother's life. Some information has been passed down orally and is general family knowledge. Unless otherwise stated, anecdotes and information from Elizabeth Gili are taken from a letter to author, Oxford, UK, 23 July 1992; those from Katherine Fulham are taken from a personal interview with author, Woodstock, Ontario, Canada, 13 June 1992; and those of Lesley Reader are taken from a letter to author, Bristol, UK, 19 June 1992.
3.  Hereafter, Gertrude McPherson will be referred to in the text as Gertrude, rather than McPherson. The use of Gertrude is befitting as the essay is not solely an account of her public duties or accomplishments. Using the first name conveys a less formal character in this approach to her public, family and personal life and will avoid any mix up in identifying her and others, in the context of the essay, who share the same surname. 
4.  Michael Fulham, personal genealogy, 1992. No. 6, Gertrude Briggs: Born: July 29, 1882. Married: February 29, 1911. Died: February 28, 1948. Her parents were Emily Midwood and John Shaw Briggs, worsted manufacturer and merchant.
5.  London Missionary Society, File on Gertrude Briggs (McPherson), 1904-1908, School of Oriental Studies, London (hereafter cited as LMS). Gertrude had attended the John Street Congregational Church in Wakefield and had been educated at the Wakefield Girls' High School, continuing her studies at Liverpool University School of Art from 1902-1904. She took a position as drawing mistress at Langton House, Bury St. Edmonds, Suffolk, a private school for girls, while she prepared to enter mission work. In 1905 she was accepted by the Women's Foreign Mission of the United Free Church of Scotland to their training institute, where she remained for two years until qualified to take up a mission.

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6.  It is not clear whether or not Gertrude actually acquired a mission after arriving in Hong Kong.
7.  A member of the Presbyterian Church in Forest, Ontario, Canada, John McPherson, known as Jack, had been appointed by the Canadian YMCA as a missionary to Hong Kong.
8.  Angus died at the age of 18 months. Elizabeth was born in 1913, Katherine in 1915, and Marjorie in 1918. When in her teens, Marjorie changed her name to Lesley.
9.  In recognition for John McPherson’s public service in Hong Kong, a Sports Stadium and Gardens in Kowloon was named after him, and he was presented with the MBE by King George V at Buckingham Palace on 10 July, 1935.
10.  John J. Clayton, Gestures of Healing: Anxiety and the Modern Novel, (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1991), 59.

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11.  Richard Jenkins, Social Identity, 1996 (London and New York: Routledge), 26.
12.  Gertrude Briggs (McPherson) to LMS, 8 February 1905, LMS File on Gertrude Briggs, 1904-1908.
13.  Margaret E. Tabor, 14 January 1905, and Mary King Emmott, 14 January 1905, both of University of Liverpool, and Robert (last name unknown), 20 February 1905, minister, Congregational Church, Wakefield, all to London Missionary Society.
14.  Briggs (McPherson) to LMS.
15.  Steven Mintz, A Prison of Expectations: The Family in Victorian Culture, 1983, (New York: New York University Press), 57.
16.  The date of Angus's birth is not available, but it was before Elizabeth's of 1913. Lesley speculates on the period of Gertrude's political activism: "I am not sure of the dates. The women's suffrage movement started about 1889 and came to a dead stop when war broke out in 1914 and in 1918 women got the vote. Could she have been in England between Angus's birth and death?" (Letter, Reader to author, 1992).

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17. Luke 10:31-42. Martha complains to Jesus that Mary is not helping prepare the meal for their guests, and this is the response Jesus gave.
18.  McPherson, Grey Cottage, 237.
19. The British Library lists Grey Cottage as the main text with Few Things are Needful following.
20.  Mary Jean Corbett, Representing Femininity: Middle-Class Subjectivity in Victorian and Edwardian Women's Autobiographies, 1992 (New York: Oxford University Press), 71.
21.  A. R. Main, “The One Thing Needful,” in Messages from the Word: Studies in Ambiguous Texts, (1928), < >(27 January 2001).
22.  See Edward F. Hills, King James Version Defended, (1956, 4th Edition Feb. 1984); also see Edward F. Hills, King James Defended (4th Edition Aug. 1997) <> (27 January 2001).
23.  Corbett, Representing Femininity, 71.
24.  Clayton, however, discovered that the writers’ emphasis in the books he analyzed was on false representations of themselves, with one exception, the sole female author, Virginia Woolf (Clayton, Gestures of Healing, 63).

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25.  Clayton uses a psychoanalytic interpretation of merging based on a longing for connectedness to a nurturing maternal figure (Clayton,            Gestures of Healing, 74).
26.  McPherson, Grey Cottage, 290.
27.  Elizabeth says they saw their grandmother for the first and only time. Their grandfather had already died when Gertrude was young.
28. Diana Gittins, “Marital Status, Work and Kinship, 1850-1930,” in Labour and Love, ed. Jane Lewis, (Oxford: Blackwell Publ, 1986), 249-267. 
     See p. 250. See also, Pat Jalland, Women, Marriage, and Politics: 1860-1914, (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1986), 260.
29.   Lesley Reader, letter to author, 7 June 1993.

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30.  McPherson, Grey Cottage, 185-186.
31.  Ibid., 186.32.
32.  Ibid., 166.
33.  Ibid., 166.
34.  Peggy La Cerra, “Gender-specific Differences in Evolved Mating ‘Strategies’: the Evolutionary Basis of Sexual Conflict,” Sexuality and Culture, vol. 1, Sexual Harassment and Sexual Consent, editor-in-chief Barry Dank and managing editor Roberto Refinetti, (New Brunswick, USA and London, UK, 1997), 151-173. While La Cerra’s overall approach is sociobiological, with economic factors taken into consideration, she uses a rational choice model to analyze mixed sexual signals between men and women, with a minor acknowledgement of the role of the unconscious. See pp. 164-171.
35.  See Wendy Holloway’s analysis of heterosexual relations from the point of view of historically-influenced subjectivity and power, “Gender Differences and the Production of Subjectivity,” in Feminism and Sexuality, eds. Stevi Jackson and Sue Scott, (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1996), 84-100. For a “bird’s-eye view” of a number of approaches to sexuality, see Roger Horrocks, An Introduction to the Study of Sexuality, (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1997). Horrocks’s work includes the influence of Christianity on Western modes of thought, and emphasizes the importance of having a model of sexuality that embraces the unconscious. See pp. 1, 185. 
36.  McPherson, Grey Cottage, 312.
37.  Ibid., 317.
38. Arthur Kleinman and Joan Kleinman, “Suffering and Its Professional Transformation: Toward an Ethnography of Interpersonal Experience,” 
    15, 3, (Sept.) 1991, Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry, 275-301. See p. 278.

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39.  Jalland, Women, Marriage, and Politics, 73.
40.  Clayton, Gestures of Healing, 87. While the basic meaning of this concept in this context is that the individual can both fear death and non-existence and also welcome release from the human condition, Clayton’s psychoanalytic interpretation is that it derives from the powerful mother figure and the absent father of childhood. For a broader summary of concepts related to the complexities of death, see especially p. 38, Diana
Tietjens Meyers, “Miroir, Mémoire, Mirage: Appearance, Aging, and Women,” in Mother Time: Women, Aging, and Ethics, ed. Margaret Urban Walker, (NY and Oxford: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 1999), 23-41.
41.  Elizabeth Gili, telephone conversation with author, 17 Dec. 1999; Katherine Fulham, telephone conversation with author, 20 Nov. 1999; Lesley Reader, telephone conversation with author, 12 Nov. 1999.
42.  Gertrude had trained to be a missionary and gone to art school, but after moving to Hong Kong it seems that art became of a part of her life, with religion perhaps no longer the driving force it had been in her early days.

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43. They may have returned partly for health reasons, says Elizabeth. All three girls had had malaria, and Katherine had also been hospitalized with typhoid fever.
44.  The school was later relocated and renamed the Garden School. “Instead of exams at the end of every term, each class would make a presentation to the rest of the school. We had one day devoted entirely to giving speeches on any chosen subject. Nicky [the headmistress] thought our end of term activities were an essential part of ‘growing up’ and would train us for future endeavours,” Katherine explains, in Memoirs of Katherine (McPherson) Fulham, her personal memoirs written over the period 1991-1996.
45.  Lesley describes a party Gertrude held, on one of John’s visits home to England. Gertrude was brilliant at organizing parties and for this one, the adults were asked to come dressed as children and the children as the adults they expected to become. Lesley says, “As the party started there was a knock on the back door and when Gertrude opened it there was a tramp outside begging for food. Gertrude looked at the kitchen table loaded with party food and sighed and said, ‘You’d better come in’.” This was a time, in the 1930’s, of high unemployment in England, but as Gertrude soon discovered, the visitor was one of the invited guests.
46.  McPherson, Grey Cottage, 297.
47.  Reader, letter to author, 1993.

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48.  McPherson, Grey Cottage, 261-262.
49. There is no record of the significance to Gertrude and John of the loss of their son, at age eighteen months, despite her having to deal with his decline and eventual death while on route by ship to join her husband in China, says Katherine, and his burial part-way through the six-week journey, in Singapore.
50.  Clayton, Gestures of Healing, 22.
51.  Clayton’s psychoanalytic study focuses on the childhood experience of his subjects as the source of their personal struggles as adults, rather than see such struggles as part of the human condition, continuing from birth to death. 
52.  Clayton, Gestures of Healing, 3.
53. Reader, letter to author, 1993.
54.  Bernice L. Neugarten, “The Awareness of Middle Age,” in Middle Age and Aging, ed. Bernice L. Neugarten, (London and Chicago: Univ of Chicago Press, 1968), 93-98. See p. 97.
55.  Jane Pilcher, Age and Generation in Modern Britain, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995, 91.
56.  See Erik H. Erikson, Joan M. Erikson and Helen Q. Kivnick, Vital Involvement in Old Age, (New York and London, W. W. Norton & Company), 1986, 37. 

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57.  McPherson, Grey Cottage, 219.
58.  See pp. 406, 407, Klim McPherson and David Coleman, “Health,” in British Social Trends Since 1900, ed. A. H. Halsey, (London: Macmillan, [1972] 2nd ed. 1988), 398-461.
59.  Based on figures given, only a fraction of one per cent of marriages of 1911 would have ended in divorce after twenty years; see pp. 75, 80, David Coleman, “Population,” in British Social Trends Since 1900, ed. A. H. Halsey, (London: Macmillan, [1972] 2nd edn 1988), 36-134. 
60. Shulamit Reinharz, “Feminist Biography,” in The Narrative Study of Lives, Vol. 2 Exploring Identity and Gender, eds. Amia Lieblich and Ruthellen Josselson, (London: Sage, 1994), 37-82. See p. 45.
61.  She was planning to hold an exhibition in London, the first for ten years, when she died, in 1948 (“Artists Death,” Michael Fulham, personal genealogy, 1992. No. 6, Gertrude Briggs).
62.  Reviews of Grey Cottage include “An Artist and His Visitors By the Sea,” Springfield Republican, 6 August 1933; “Love in a Cottage, “ New York Times, 30 July 1933; and reviews in Boston Evening Transcript, 9 August 1933; Christian Century, 16 August 1933; Commonweal, 13 October 1933; New Statesman and Nation, 10 June 1933; Saturday Review of Literature, 29 July 1933; and Times Literary Supplement, 22 June 1933.
63.  Anthony Clare, On Men: Masculinity in Crisis, (Ldn: Chatto & Windus, 2000), 221.
64.  Ibid., 69.
65.  Gittins, “Marital Status, Work and Kinship,” 265.

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                   This page was published July, 2015, on the
                              S A McPherson website, 
                                last updated Dec 2018


                 contact Sue McPherson, London, Ontario,  at
                          s.a.mcpherson at​

See also, 

J. L. McPherson, Hong Kong YMCA:  General Secretary 1905-1935

Mayfield, Kent 
Grey Cottage, 
by G. McPherson, 
published 1933
n. Kent. postcard, 
Union Church, Hong Kong,
1900s. Postcard of the church where John & Gertrude married.
Pen and ink 
drawing of sailing
boats - a junk and
sampans, in Hong
Kong harbour
Gertrude's daughters - 
Lesley, Elizabeth and
Katherine - with their amahs on Cheung Chau - an outlying island nr Hong Kong 
daughter Katherine, Gertrude on the right at back, daughters Lesley and Elizabeth seated. Aprox 1938. Mayfield, Kent

Gertrude & John in their garden
 at Mayfield. Kent. 1938
daughters Elizabeth and Lesley.
Approx 1934
Oil painting of 
Victoria Peak, 
Hong Kong, by 
Gertrude McPherson