Eglantyne Jebb vs. Catherine Winkworth

Today in Lent Madness, it's the last matchup of the Saintly Sixteen as Eglantyne Jebb squares off against Catherine Winkworth in the Lent Dome. To get to this round Eglantyne routed Seraphim of Sarov while Catherine upset Isaac Watts.

If you had a big weekend and/or your memory is shaky, on Friday Martin de Porres defeated Dymphna 62% to 38% to advance to the Elate Eight where she'll face Maria Skobtsova.

Tomorrow we begin the Elate Eight, aka the Round of Saintly Kitsch as Peter faces Esther. Hold on to your Bibles, folks!

Eglantyne Jebb

Charismatic British social reformer. Fierce human rights advocate. Brilliant organizer. Savvy political activist. Generous philanthropist. These are just a few ways one might describe Eglantyne Jebb, the founder of Save the Children, the international organization that promotes children's rights and supports them in developing countries around the globe.

This being the round of quirks and quotes, it's worth noting that Eglantyne Jebb was a QUOTE MACHINE. Here are a few of her most memorable ones:

Save the Children is often told that its aims are impossible – that there has always been child suffering and there always will be. We know. It’s impossible only if we make it so. It’s impossible only if we refuse to attempt it.

The only international language in the world is a child's cry.

Relief work does not consist entirely in wearisome appeals ... it has its moments of enchantment, its adventures, its unexpected vistas into new worlds.

As far as quirks, well, perhaps her name itself counts. Eglantyne? That generally doesn't appear on the annual list of top ten baby names. According to Nameberry, it is a name rich in associations of religious devotion. "In The Travels of Sir John Mandeville, the author mentions three crowns of thorn used by the Roman soldiers when they tortured Jesus: one of hawthorn (when they arrested Jesus in the garden); one of eglentine or briar rose (when they brought him before Caiphas); and one of the sea reeds (when he was crowned before Pilate)." In any case, Eglantyne probably had a tough time in middle school.

We'll end with a story that shows Jebb's power -- of persuasion, of persistence, and of passion. After receiving front-page coverage for her arrest protesting the Allied blockade's impact on children following World War I, Eglantyne was savvy enough to know that publicity alone would not feed the starving children of Europe. Determined to capitalize on her newfound celebrity, Jebb decided to hold a public meeting to garner further support for her cause. Being an optimist, she booked the biggest venue in London: the Royal Albert Hall. News reports say it was standing room only.

Unfortunately, it soon became clear that the crowd was not entirely there to support her. Many arrived with rotten fruit and vegetables to throw at this ‘traitor’ who sought to support 'the enemy'. After a hesitant start, Jebb's voice rose in conviction and strength until she cried out, ‘Surely it is impossible for us, as normal human beings, to watch children starve to death without making an effort to save them’. In the stunned silence that followed, a collection was spontaneously taken up.

Catherine Winkworth

Catherine WinkworthIf you could have dinner with a group of people in history, who would it be? Does your mind race to Paris, where Gertrude Stein held parties with Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald? Or do you gravitate to New York for the Harlem Renaissance after the Great African-American migration? Do you imagine spending time with Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston while listening to Duke Ellington? Or could your answer center around Catherine Winkworth and her friends?

Throughout history, we have seen genius constellations gather—people who seem drawn to one another’s brilliance, whose art stands out in proximity to the shining light of another. Winkworth was one of those bright stars as she gathered among women whose talents shed light on the social ills of their day and whose generosity worked for system change.

Winkworth had a way with words, as she translated many of our finest hymns from German, perhaps this is why she also connected with extraordinary novelists, poets, and musicians. Winkworth seemed especially drawn to proto-feminists who combined social commentary with Christian morality. They were artists who struggled on behalf of education for women, the abolition of slavery, and rights for children. They exposed the classism and brutality of the industrial revolution, and they understood how to utilize the power of words and music in order to create a more generous society.

If we looked around at Winkworth’s imaginary dinner table, we would find Elizabeth Gaskell. Gaskell and Winkworth spent time together as children, before Winkworth’s mother died and she had to move. In the years to follow, Gaskell wrote many books including North and South, which has been called Pride and Prejudice for socialists.

Beside Gaskell, we could find Charlotte Brontë, the eldest of the Brontë sisters and the author of Jane Eyre. Through strong female characters, Brontë explored religion and classism.

At the next place setting, we might find Elizabeth Barrett Browning. We know that as Winkworth got older, she began to correspond with Elizabeth Browning, the poet who fought child labor and worked for the abolition of slavery.

In our dinner party fantasy, we could also find Jenny Lind, the “Swedish Nightingale.” This extraordinary diva corresponded with Winkworth when she was not touring. Lind did not use her beautiful voice to line her own pockets, but Lind raised money for favorite charities, including schools and churches.

It’s no wonder that so many brilliant minds gravitated toward Winkworth, as she used her own talents in translation, poetry and music, Winkworth also worked for the education of girls and women. Their art and passions would make them excellent dinner party companions.

- Carol Howard Merritt

Eglantyne Jebb vs. Catherine Winkworth

  • Eglantyne Jebb (78%, 4,953 Votes)
  • Catherine Winkworth (22%, 1,417 Votes)

Total Voters: 6,370

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117 comments on “Eglantyne Jebb vs. Catherine Winkworth”

  1. I voted for Eglantyne because she was famous and helped kids who were starving.

    1. Difficult choice, and they are just going to get more difficult as the bracket narrows. But I went for Eglantyne.

    2. Yeah, I’m going to pout and stomp about this match-up!
      Not fair (to those of us that must choose)
      Went with Jebb❤️

  2. Hymns feed the soul and I am truly grateful to Catherine Winkworth for her work, but it is the feeding the children that speaks to me most forcefully. Therefore, my vote must be for Eglantyne Jebb.

  3. Sorry to be shallow but it's a Monday morning so I'm going with the less prickly, more likable Winkworth

  4. I had to go back and re-read the first round information on Catherine Winkworh. While I admire her work with the poor and for education for women and children I had to vote for Eglantyne. We need to heed her words ‘Surely it is impossible for us, as normal human beings, to watch children starve to death without making an effort to save them’ today as much as in her day.

  5. I was about to vote for Eglantyne for a couple of reasons: I know what it's like to have a strange first name (the Kassebaum I married into) and mainly for her work to help children, even though she did't really like them in person.
    But I'm also a cradle Episcopalian who's been in choirs longer than I care to admit, and when it turned out that Catherine Winkworth not only translated some of my favorite hymns but also worked with proto-feminists for the rights of children and others who needed help, I had to vote for her. (Sorry, Oliver)

    1. My dinner wouldn't be actual dinner, but beer at The Eagle and Child with The Inklings.

  6. Jebb was fan of saving children and I love children and I cant say this enough but vote jebb

  7. Both are extraordinary women. A vote for one is not a vote against the other. My vote for Catherine only laments the cheap shot of pitting the arts against social welfare, music against feeding starving children. It is not an either/or. “Give us bread, but give us roses.”

    1. Yes, Ann! This said it for me: She “understood how to utilize the power of words and music in order to create a more generous society.”

    2. Ann W., you just invoked my favorite labor movement story and song, and thanks for that! But I voted for Eglantyne. I have her going all the way to the golden halo! #SaveTheChildren

  8. My vote was changed to Jebb after reading today's quirks and quotes. Very persuasive. I had not voted for either of these in round 1.

  9. I have to vote for Eglantyne, who was able to communicate with a rowdy crowd of people who, initially
    convinced of their own rectitude, thought her unpatriotic and immoral for following her conscience, and thus turn them into supporters. She is truly the Great Communicator.

  10. Pitting women against children! I must protest!
    But then I voted for Eglantyne. How could any normal human being not?

  11. The hymns mean so much to me, but I can't throw the children under the bus for them! Until the world can stop its mad rush for immediate power and gain and focus on making things better for those who come after us, God's will cannot be done on earth.

  12. Turns our our family worked at the Jebb family's farm in Shropshire and she probably knew my great- great grandparents. So I voted for her.

  13. Both of these saints are worthy of the Golden Halo.
    @SEC: Bring back whoever is eliminated in this round in 2019!

  14. Sorry, Catherine. While you were busy with your writing, Eglantyne was out there, passionately saving lives.

    "It’s impossible only if we make it so. It’s impossible only if we refuse to attempt it."

    Thank you, Eglantyne. You are a star in the whole firmament of saints!

    Eglantyne for the win!

    1. Should Eglantyne end up with the Golden Halo, I hope some little bit of the profits (if any) from the resultant coffee cup sales could be shared with the organization she founded. (Yes, Scott+ I know that Forward Movement which sponsors Lent Madness is also a non-profit worthy of our financial support.)

      [And if only I could get a travel mug with the Golden Halo winner on it so I could use it at work, since we can't have open top beverage containers near very expensive computer workstations for obvious reasons.]

  15. Much as I admire, indeed am humbled by, Jebb's work, it's Winkworth for me because her work and that of others like her provides the inspiration and spiritual strength for activists like Jebb to do what they do.

  16. You had me at "Pride and Prejudice for Socialists." I suspect Jebb will win, and she is a good eg. But I loved the scene of the literary and social salon with all the writers and artists including Elizabeth Gaskell, Charlotte Bronte, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, and Jenny Lind. Winkworth is right in the center of Victorian earnest social amelioration, and I am there with her. The table Carol asks us to envision is the heart of 19th-century feminism. It reminds me of Judy Chicago's "Dinner Party" of 1979, a breakthrough work in art and in feminism. We know from the Last Supper that transformation happens when two or three or more gather at table to dine and change the world.

      1. Here's the description of the novel from Wikipedia: "'North and South' uses a protagonist from southern England to present and comment on the perspectives of mill owners and workers in an industrialising city. The novel is set in the fictional industrial town of Milton in the north of England. Forced to leave her home in the tranquil, rural south, Margaret Hale settles with her parents in Milton. She witnesses the brutal world wrought by the Industrial Revolution, seeing employers and workers clashing in the first strikes. Sympathetic to the poor (whose courage and tenacity she admires and among whom she makes friends), she clashes with John Thornton: a nouveau riche cotton-mill owner who is contemptuous of his workers. The novel traces her growing understanding of the complexity of labour relations and their impact on well-meaning mill owners and her conflicted relationship with John Thornton." In Chapter 17, "What is a strike?," Nicholas Higgins explains why the workers of the textile mill are going on strike; it is because the owners have reduced wages on the pretext that they cannot afford to pay the same wages as before. Higgins is scornful: "State o' trade! That's just a piece o' masters' humbug. It's rate o' wages I was talking of. Th' masters keep th' state o' trade in their own hands; and just walk it forward like a black bug-a-boo, to frighten naughty children with into being good. I'll tell yo' it's their part,—their cue, as some folks call it,—to beat us down, to swell their fortunes; and it's ours to stand up and fight hard,—not for ourselves alone, but for them round about us—for justice and fair play. We help to make their profits, and we ought to help spend 'em." Justice and equity are the workers' values; the owners' values are the libertarian ones of absolute freedom to decide what they like without regard for the impact of their decisions on others, and self-interest. The idea that workers deserve a share in the profit they create is a Marxist one, hardly alt right. Gaskell cannot be confused with a neo-liberal or a neo-nazi. She is very definitely a Victorian social ameliorist.

        1. That’s so helpful. St. C.
          And greetings from rainy Tuscany, where connectivity problems have rendered me incommunicado since Thursday. It’s good to be back

          1. I wondered where you had been, Davis. Enjoy the rain! St. C, I am dying to read “N&S” now! And your “good eg” joke was not lost on me!

        2. In 2004 the BBC did a splendid four-part adaptation of "North and South." It totally captures the spirit and ideas of the book. And the romance is...well...(fans self).

  17. Eglantyne Jebb, for putting in front of us the reminder that the neighbor we are called to love is often not someone who lives nearby or looks and sounds like us.

  18. I don’t feel as though I learned anything about why all these brilliant women were friends with Catherine Winkworth, so my vote went to Eglantyne Jebb, despite the problematic nature of international humanitarianism. NB: I study the way images of children are used in humanitarian and political causes.