Joyce Reason

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Joyce Reason
Born Joyce Reason
(1894-09-00)September 1894
London, England
Died 19 September 1974(1974-09-19) (aged 81)
London, England
Occupation Writer
Nationality English
Alma mater Milton Mount College
Genre Junior historical fiction, Missionary biography
Notable works Bran the Bronze Smith, The Mad Miller of Wareham, The Secret Fortress, To Capture the King

Joyce Reason (December 1894 - 18 September 1974) was a British author of missionary biographies and historical fiction for young readers.[1]

Life and Works[edit]

Joyce Reason was born in Canning Town, London. Her father, Will Reason, was a Congregational minister who campaigned and wrote around themes of social justice and poverty (books such as Poverty, Drink and the Community, Homes and Housing, Christianity and Social Renewal). Both her parents were university graduates.

She was educated at Milton Mount College For Girls in Gravesend, an educational institution for the daughters of congregational ministers, although other pupils could attend.

She was a prolific author of popular missionary biographies and accounts of the work of the London Missionary Society. She also wrote fiction and plays for young people.

Reason wrote missionary biographies of Mary Aldersey of China,[2] James Chalmers of Papua,[3] Albert Cook of Uganda,[4][5][6] William Kendall Gale of Madagascar,[7] Wilfred Grenfell of Labrador,[8] James Hannington of Uganda,[9] Griffith John of China,[10] David Jones of Madagascar,[11] Liang Fa of China,[12] Henry Nott of the South Seas,[13] Ruatoka of Papua,[14] Bishop Selwyn of New Zealand,[15] Howard Somervell of India,[16] and others.[17] She also wrote popular biographies of John Bunyan,[18] Robert Browne,[19] Henry Barrowe,[20] William Penn,[21] Isobel Kuhn [22] and Sadhu Sundar Singh of India.[23]

In September 1951, Joyce Reason joined the headquarters staff of the Leprosy Mission as Editorial Secretary for a five-year term.[24] She visited Uganda and Tanganyika to write an account of the Mission's work in East Africa, and also visited the Church of Scotland's leprosy settlement at Chogoria in Kenya.[25]

Joyce Reason was a noted advocate of Christian books and in 1950 was a featured speaker at the Christianity in Books Exhibition at Memorial Hall, Farringdon Street, together with the Dean of St Paul's Cathedral.[26] She believed there was empirical evidence for the existence of the human soul. In response to a letter by a Professor Crew about life-termination by the individual, she suggested that the professor had not investigated evidence from ESP and psychology for regarding our lives as a part of something "much larger and more enduring".[27]

She was a keen hiker and her article 'A Lone Woman's Hike from Glastonbury to Winchester' appeared in the first issue of the Hiker and Camper (February 1931).[28] She was considered an authority on the Kibbo Kift movement.[29]

Joyce Reason was noted as an author of historical fiction for young people.[30] Reviewers praised her books for their well-researched historical backgrounds, strong stories and colourful personalities. Her novel The Mad Miller of Wareham is set in King John's time in Dorset and concerns a plot to put Arthur of Brittany on the throne.[31] The towns, villages, abbeys and priories of Dorset, where the tale is set, are creditably brought to light and more than one of the characters is drawn in the round and exists as a person.[32] The novel To Capture the King, concerns a Jacobite plot and smuggling on the Sussex coast, with incidental glimpses of Samuel Johnson and Horace Walpole.The texture of history is less closely woven in this but the story is exciting.[33][34]

Bran the Bronze-Smith: A Tale of the Bronze Age in the British Isles[35] is a story a boy in prehistoric Britain who becomes a travelling smith and eventually a master smith.[36][37][38] Swords of Iron is set in Pre-Roman Britain.[39] The Secret Fortress deals in traditional style with the last age of Viking rule in Cumberland.[40] The Queen's Champions is a story of a plot against Queen Elizabeth I and how a young boy plays an important part in averting disaster.[41] Red Pennons Flying is a tale set during the Hundred Years' War.

She also wrote Dwifa's Curse: A Tale of the Stone Age under the nom-de-plume "Blue Wolf".[1] It is set in Stone Age Britain, just at the time the earlier Neolithic people are coming into contact with later Stone Age people armed with the bow and more advanced in civilisation.[42][43]

She produced a number of works for the Sunday School "rewards" market which are still occasionally reprinted.[44] The copyrights of these and many of her other works are now held by Lutterworth Press.

For the last 20 years of her life at least, Joyce Reason, a Congregationalist by denomination, lived at 102 Addison Rd, Guildford. She was not married and for much of her life lived with her younger sister, the chemist and teacher Hazel Alden Reason, who was also unmarried.

A number of her books have been translated into French, German and Swedish.


  1. ^ a b Who Was Who Among English and European Authors, 1931-1949, Vol. 3, Gale Research Co., Detroit, 1978, p.1177
  2. ^ Joyce Reason, The Witch of Ningpo: Mary Aldersey. Eagle books, 1940.
  3. ^ Joyce Reason, Tales from Chalmers: Stories Based on the Autobiography of James Chalmers, Missionary in Papua. London: Livingstone Press, 1942.
  4. ^ Joyce Reason, Safety Last: The Story of Albert Cook of Uganda. London: Highway Press, 1954.
  5. ^ George Craig. Shorter Notices: Review of Safety Last: The Story of Albert Cook of Uganda. In: Oxford Journals, African Affairs, 1955, p242 [1]
  6. ^ Cited in: Gerald H. Anderson. Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 1999 ISBN 978-0-8028-4680-8
  7. ^ Joyce Reason, Go and Find It!:[William Kendall Gale of Madagascar. London: Edinburgh House Press, 1942
  8. ^ Joyce Reason, Deep-Sea Doctor: Wilfred Grenfell. London: Edinburgh House Press, 1941
  9. ^ Joyce Reason, Bishop Jim: The Story of James Hannington. Lutterworth Press, 1955
  10. ^ Joyce Reason, Griffith John of China: A Biography. Eagle Books, London, 1950
  11. ^ Joyce Reason, Storm over Madagascar: David Jones. London: Edinburgh House, 1957
  12. ^ Joyce Reason, Bold Smuggler: Liang A-Fa of China, London, Edinburgh House Press, 1960
  13. ^ Joyce Reason, The Bricklayer and the King: Henry Nott of the South Seas. Eagle Books, London, 1938.
  14. ^ Joyce Reason, Take My Life: Ruatoka of Papua. London: Edinburgh House Press, 1947.
  15. ^ Joyce Reason, No Road for his Coach: Bishop Selwyn of New Zealand. Eagle Books, London, 1961.
  16. ^ Joyce Reason, Heights After Everest: Howard Somervell of India. London: Edinburgh House Press, 1954.
  17. ^ See for example: Cecil Northcott and Joyce Reason. Six Missionaries in Africa: Robert Moffat, David Livingstone, James Stewart, Alexander Mackay, Mary Slessor, Albert Cook. London: Oxford University Press, 1947
  18. ^ Joyce Reason, To be a Pilgrim: The Story of John Bunyan. Lutterworth Press, 1961
  19. ^ Joyce Reason, Henry Barrowe (1550-1593) and John Greenwood ( -1593:). Independent Press, 1961
  20. ^ ditto
  21. ^ Joyce Reason, Quaker Cavalier: The Story of William Penn. Lutterworth Press, 1965.
  22. ^ Joyce Reason, Searcher for God: The story of Isobel Kuhn. Lutterworth Press, 1963
  23. ^ Joyce Reason, The Man who Disappeared: Sundar Singh of India. London: Edinburgh House Press, 1937
  24. ^ Leprosy Mission, This Spreading Tree: The Story of the Leprosy Mission from 1918 to 1970. Leprosy Mission, London, 1974.
  25. ^ Joyce Reason, Laughter of the Desert. Illustrated by L.F. Lupton. Mission to Lepers, London, 1952
  26. ^ The Times, 11 October 1950, p.7
  27. ^ Manchester Guardian, 8 November 1968
  28. ^ Adam Stout,Creating Prehistory: Druids, Ley Hunters and Archaeologists in Pre-war Britain. Blackwell Publishing, 2008, pp.185-6 ISBN 978-1-4051-5504-5 [2]
  29. ^ Manchester Guardian, 17 December 1927. Notice of address by Miss Joyce Reason, "What is this Kibbo Kift?"
  30. ^ Kenneth Charlton, Recent Historical Fiction for Secondary School Children. London: Historical Association, 1969
  31. ^ School Librarian and School Library Review, Vol.7, School Library Association, 1954. pp.21,144
  32. ^ Mary Crozier, "Back to Earth". Manchester Guardian, 9 April 1954, p.11.
  33. ^ Mary Crozier, "Archery to Art History". Manchester Guardian, 23 March 1956, p18.
  34. ^ The American Journal of Education, Vol.88, 1979-1996, p.371
  35. ^ Joyce Reason (1932). Bran the Bronze-smith: A Tale of the Bronze Age in the British Isles. E.P. Dutton & Company, Incorporated. Retrieved 10 April 2013. 
  36. ^ Boy Scouts of America, Inc. (December 1932). Boys' Life. Boy Scouts of America, Inc. pp. 41–. ISSN 0006-8608. Retrieved 10 April 2013. 
  37. ^ Agatha L. Shea, "Thrilling Book has its Setting in Bronze Age". Chicago Daily Tribune, 20 Aug 1932
  38. ^ Hannah J. Logasa, Historical Fiction and other Reading References for History Classes in Junior and Senior High Schools, The University of Chicago High School. [3]
  39. ^ Geoffrey Trease, Tales out of School, Heinemann Educational Books, 1964, p.104 ISBN 978-0-435-80900-3
  40. ^ Marcus Crouch. The Nesbit Tradition: The Children's Novel 1972 1945-1970, London: Benn, 1972. p.59 ISBN 0-510-31351-5
  41. ^ School Librarian and School Library Review,Vol.15, School Library Association, 1967. p.60
  42. ^ The Saturday Review of Politics, Literature, Science and Art, Vol. 133, J.W. Parker and Son, 1922, p.154
  43. ^ Dwifa's Curse (plot summary)
  44. ^ Principally: Three Secret Seeds (1964), The Fire Escape (1965), Mrs Townsend and a Puppy (1967), Jim All Alone (1969), Josephine Jane (1970), and The Black and White Twins (1970).

Selected Juvenile Fiction[edit]

  • Bran the Bronze-Smith. Illustrated by the author. (1930, repr.1939,1961)
  • Prentices and Clubs! A Tudor Tale. (1947)
  • The Secret Fortress. (1949)
  • Swords of Iron. (1956)
  • The Mad Miller of Wareham. Illustrated by S. Van Abbé. (1949, repr.1954)
  • The Queen's Champions. Illustrated by Trevor Stubley. (1966)
  • To Capture the King: The Story of a Jacobite Plot. (1956)

External links[edit]

WorldCat Identities: Joyce Reason [4]