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Carola Oman

Carola Oman (1897–1978), was an English historical novelist, biographer and children's writer, best known for her retelling of the Robin Hood legend and a 1946 biography of Admiral Lord Nelson.[1]


  • Background 1
  • Writings 2
  • Honours 3
  • External resources 4
  • References 5


Carola Mary Anima Oman was born on 11 May 1897 in Oxford, the second of three children of the military historian Sir Charles Oman (1860–1946) of All Souls and his wife Mary (1866–1950), daughter of General Robert Maclagan of the Royal Engineers. She described a rather sumptuous and sociable childhood in a final book illustrated with photographs, An Oxford Childhood.[2] As a child she wrote several plays that were performed by friends. Another early interest was photography.[3] She was sent in 1906 to Miss Batty's, later Wychwood School[4] in Oxford. She would have liked to have gone to boarding school, but her parents would not agree, and she continued at Miss Batty's until the spring of 1914.[5]

The family moved in 1908 into Faber and Faber.[9] Another writer friend in Oxford was Joanna Cannan,[10] who dedicated her 1931 novel High Table to Oman.[11]


Oman's war work as a probationary

  1. ^ Entry for Carola Oman in The Cambridge Guide to Women's Writing in English Retrieved 8 July 2012. Pay-walled.
  2. ^ London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1976. ISBN 0340212659
  3. ^ An Oxford Childhood, passim.
  4. ^ Josephine Ransom: Schools of Tomorrow in England (London: Bell, 1919). Retrieved 8 July 2012.
  5. ^ ODNB entry by Mark Bostridge. Retrieved 8 July 2012. Pay-walled.; Orlando project: Retrieved 8 July 2012.
  6. ^ A detailed account of the history of Frewin Hall: Retrieved 8 July 2012.
  7. ^ "Society Meetings, 18 June 1958".  
  8. ^ Obituary: Retrieved 8 July 2012.
  9. ^ The Indexer 17/1 (April 1990). Retrieved 1 August 2012.
  10. ^ ODNB entry; An Oxford Childhood, pp. 119, 133, 143, 149 and 174.
  11. ^ Orlando Project, Cambridge, page on Cannan. Retrieved 1 August 2012.
  12. ^ Bookseller's description Retrieved 1 August 2012.; ODNB entry.
  13. ^ An extract from Shaw the Villager... by Allan Chapelow (New York: Macmillan, 1962): Retrieved 8 July 2012.
  14. ^ ODNB entry; The Cambridge Guide...
  15. ^ All Poetry site. Retrieved 8 July 2012.
  16. ^ Historical Research 27/76 (November 1954), pp. 214–17.
  17. ^ British Library records: Retrieved 8 July 2012.
  18. ^ 6 April 1973. Retrieved 1 August 2012.
  19. ^ The Cambridge Guide...; Amazon listings Retrieved 8 July 2012.
  20. ^ ODNB entry.
  21. ^ ODNB entry.
  22. ^ [1] Better citation needed.


  • The full text of the David Garrick biography online: Retrieved 8 July 2012.
  • Carola Oman's WW1 poem "Unloading Ambulance Train" on a school website: Retrieved 1 August 2012.

External resources

Carola Oman was appointed a trustee of the National Maritime Museum and later of the National Portrait Gallery. She was appointed a CBE in 1957.[20] She died at Ayot St Lawrence on 11 June 1978.[21] There is a memorial to her and her husband in the village church.[22]


Oman wrote several historical novels for children, of which a story of the Third Crusade, Ferry the Fearless (1936, later a Puffin book), Robin Hood (1937, numerous editions) and Alfred, King of the English (1939, reprinted several times) were the most popular.[19]

Carola Oman's 1953 biography of Peninsular War general Sir John Moore (1953) won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize in that year.[15] The academic standing of the book is clear from the fact that she was called upon on 10 July 1954 to lecture on Moore to the Anglo-American Conference of Historians, held at the Institute of Historical Research, University of London.[16] Other subjects of biographies were David Garrick (1958) and Sir Walter Scott: The Wizard of the North (1973).[17] The warm reviews of the latter include one by the English poet Elizabeth Jennings in the Catholic Herald.[18]

Oman's writing career of more than half a century produced over 30 books of fiction, history and biography for adults and children. She soon began to focus on historical biography. The Winter Queen. Henrietta Maria (about the French queen, 1609–1669) appeared in 1936, Elizabeth of Bohemia in 1938, and her authoritative prize-winning biography of Nelson in 1946. This drew on a wealth of material not available to the previous biographer Alfred Thayer Mahan fifty years before, notably the papers of Lady Nelson assembled by the founder of the Nelson Museum, Monmouth.[14]


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