The Story of Charlotte Mason, 1842-1923

By Essex Cholmondeley

The life of the Victorian educator and reformer who founded the Parents’ National Educational Union.

ISBN: 9780718895884


Charlotte Mason (1842-1923) orphaned and poor at the age of sixteen, nonetheless developed into an inspiring and original educational reformer of the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth century, a period of great intellectual vitality and cultural change. Enabled through the help of friends and colleagues she founded the Parents’ National Educational Union (PNEU) in 1887 and established the ‘The House of Education’, the Teacher Training College for women in Ambleside in 1892.

The clarity and coherence of her applied philosophy of education established the foundation for a simple, stimulating and deeply satisfying enjoyment of learning for children of all ages in countless homes and schools in Britain and the world.

In her biography, Essex Cholmondeley draws on her own experiences of Mason’s teaching, as well as her extensive literary output, to unfold her life and work. Whilst she and Elsie Kitching lacked full details of Mason’s family history, a warm and lively personality emerges, able to inspire other people with her own splendid vision.

Additional information

Dimensions 234 × 156 mm
Pages 287
Illustrations 9 b&w

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Trade Information LGENPOD

About the Author

Essex Cholmondeley (1892-1985) was a student of Charlotte Mason’s at Scale How, gaining a First Class qualification in 1919. After teaching in PNEU schools, she returned to Ambleside in 1924 to assist Elsie Kitching at the Parents’ Union School. She was appointed Vice-Principal of the House of Education in 1930, and was Principal from 1934-1937, serving on the Charlotte Mason Foundation until 1962.


Foreword to the Third Edition by Elaine Cooper
Foreword to the Second Edition by Eve E. Anderson
Dedication and Authorship
Historical Notes
Educational Movements
Note for the years 1890-1923

Part One
1. Preparation (1842-79)
2. An Educational Union of Parents
3. Miss Mason at Ambleside
4. Life at Scale How
5. Years of Growth (1897-1912) in the P.U.S. and the P.N.E.U.
6. Thought Unfolding (1908-13)
7. ‘A Liberal Education for All’ (1913-23)
8. Taking the Training in 1918
9. The Last Years
10. Meditations

Part Two: An Educational Faith (Writings of Charlotte Mason)
1. Preface to the Third Edition of Parents and Children
2. Three Instruments of Education (An Essay towards a Philosophy of Education)
3. Children as ‘Persons’
4. Books and Things (Home and School Education)
5. The Parents’ Union School, 1912
6. I. A Master-Thought (Home and School Education)
     II. The Material of Science (Home and School Education)
7. Simplicity (a meditation) (Parents’ Review)

Appendix I. Some Impressions of the House of Education, by Professor W.G. de Burgh, M.A.
Appendix II. Table of Dates
Appendix III. The Synopsis of 1904
Appendix IV. The Writings of Charlotte Mason



Endorsements and Reviews

This is an important book about an increasingly recognised Victorian educator whose rich precepts remain full of vitality and relevance, even within the changed conditions of the present century.
Jason Fletcher, Headmaster, Heritage School, Cambridge

Essex Cholmondeley’s work offers just the sort of introduction to Charlotte Mason’s life that the discerning, relational reader welcomes as they seek to uncover the source and influences behind her enduring philosophy of education. Based extensively on primary sources and decades of insight by Mason’s close colleagues, this biography continues to be a mainstay resource of information and inspiration for those seeking to more deeply understand Mason’s design for education.
Dr Deani Van Pelt, Charlotte Mason Institute

There are six volumes and numerous pamphlets and articles describing Charlotte Mason’s philosophy and model, yet few accounts of her personal life and work. Filled with anecdotes and stories, this volume helps complete the picture begun by the painter Fred Yates – offering the reader a better understanding of the person behind the philosophy and thus connecting them personally to Mason’s lifework.
Dr Jack Beckman, Professor of Education, Covenant College, Georgia

The Story of Charlotte Mason is an introduction and a tribute to the life and work of a once almost forgotten educator. Yet, in an interesting way she has remained alive, vibrant, and relevant into the twenty-first century. Mason’s principles are so basic to the human being that many will be relevant for centuries to come. She saw education through a relational lens, and The Story of Charlotte Mason gives the reader that relational story by providing much context from the people who knew her best through their work with her. The Story of Charlotte Mason is a must read for anyone who wants a thorough understanding of Mason in her times.
J. Carroll Smith, EdD, Retired Assistant Professor of Education and Founder of the Charlotte Mason Institute