Soap manufacturer’s daughter became kids’ writer

Two clerks on duty in James Taylors offices in Old Portsmouth. 			 (Robert James collection)

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On this day in 1841 children’s author and hymn writer Sarah Doudney was born at Portsea.

Her father ran a candle and soap-making business at Mile End.

She began writing verse and prose as a child and, when she was 15, wrote The Lesson of the Watermill, a song which became well-known in Britain and the United States.

From 1871 she published a series of pious children’s novels, including The Great Salterns (1875) which was set on Portsea Island.

Some of her hymns are still sung occasionally, including ‘Sleep on, beloved, sleep and take thy rest and Saviour, now the day is ending’. She died in 1926 – from John Sadden’s The Portsmouth Book of Days.