Maisie Ward

Mary Josephine "Maisie" Ward (4 January 1889 – 28 January 1975) descendant of one of Britain's distinguished Catholic families, was a writer, publisher, and speaker.

Maisie Ward
Born(1889-01-04)4 January 1889
Shanklin, Isle of Wight, England
Died28 January 1975(1975-01-28) (aged 86)
New York, NY
GenreBiography, Apologetics
Notable worksGilbert Keith Chesterton
SpouseFrank Sheed
ChildrenRosemary Sheed, Wilfrid Sheed

Early life

Maisie Ward was born in Shanklin on the Isle of Wight on 4 January 1889, the eldest of the five children of Wilfrid Philip Ward and the novelist Josephine Mary Hope-Scott Ward. On her mother's side she was descended from Henry Fitzalan-Howard, 14th Duke of Norfolk and on her father's side from William George Ward, a prominent member of the Oxford Movement. All four of her grandparents were converts to Roman Catholicism.[1]

She spent her childhood at first on the Isle of Wight, then Eastbourne, and finally in Dorking, before being sent off to board at St Mary's School, Cambridge. Here she was influenced by the preaching of Robert Hugh Benson and inspired by Mary Ward who had founded the order of nuns who ran the school.[1]


On leaving school, Maisie returned home to become her father's secretary.[2] She worked for the Red Cross as a nurse during the First World War, and after her father's death in 1916 she coedited with her mother a posthumous collection of his last lectures.[3]

Famous in her day as one of the names behind the imprint Sheed & Ward and as a forceful public lecturer in the Catholic Evidence Guild, her reputation has dimmed in subsequent decades. That is an ironic development given that she and her husband were ahead of their time in so many ways, foreshadowing most of what was good about the Second Vatican Council.

Maisie Ward hailed from genteel Victorian blue blood, but she literally earned her own stripes, first as a World War I nurse and then as a writer. She could claim author's rights to the first and only authorized biography of friend G. K. Chesterton[4] – a book which, to this day, remains as galvanizing on its subject as is Chesterton’s own on St. Thomas Aquinas. And she also wrote widely in other areas, including New Testament scholarship, spirituality, and substantive biographies of Newman, her own father, and Robert Browning. Also falling under her pen's purview were the stories of countless saints and lesser notables, among them her personal friend, the accomplished writer and mystic Caryll Houselander.

In 1926 she and her husband, Frank Sheed, moved to London and founded Sheed & Ward. Words were the couple’s stock in trade. The amount and quality of what they wrote, spoke, translated and edited are a tribute to the contagious enthusiasm born of their felicitous pairing.[5] The couple have sometimes been cited as a modern Catholic example of street preaching.[6] Sheed himself wrote a posthumous tribute to his wife under the title The Instructed Heart.[7]


Ward was the great-great-grandniece of Robert Plumer Ward, father of Sir Henry George Ward and grandfather of Dudley Ward; the great-granddaughter of William Ward, and of Henry Fitzalan-Howard, 14th Duke of Norfolk and Augusta Mary Minna Catherine Lyons; the granddaughter of William George Ward, and of James Hope-Scott and Lady Victoria Alexandrina Fitzalan-Howard; the niece of James Hope, 1st Baron Rankeillour; and the daughter of Wilfrid Philip Ward and the novelist Josephine Mary Hope-Scott Ward.

Maisie and Frank's son, Wilfrid Sheed was also a writer,[8] and their daughter, Rosemary Sheed was a translator.[9]


  • Catholic Evidence Training Outlines, ed., Benziger Bros., 1925.
  • The Wilfrid Wards and the Transition, Sheed & Ward, 1934.
  • Insurrection vs. Resurrection, Sheed & Ward, 1937.
  • The Oxford Group, Sheed & Ward, 1937.
  • Gilbert Keith Chesterton, Sheed & Ward, 1943.
  • The Splendor of the Rosary, Sheed & Ward, 1945.
  • Young Mr. Newman, Sheed & Ward, 1948.
  • Return to Chesterton, Sheed & Ward, 1952.
  • They Saw His Glory, Sheed & Ward, 1956.
  • Early Church Portrait Gallery, Sheed & Ward, 1959.
  • Saints Who Made History: The First Five Centuries, Sheed & Ward, 1960.
  • Carryll Houselander: That Divine Eccentric, Sheed & Ward, 1962.
  • Unfinished Business [autobiography], Sheed & Ward, 1963.
  • The Letters Of Caryll Houselander: Her Spiritual Legacy, ed., Sheed & Ward, 1965.
  • Robert Browning and His World: His Private Face, Holt, 1967.
  • The Tragi-Comedy of Pen Browning, Sheed & Ward, 1972.
  • To and Fro on the Earth: A Sequel to an Autobiography, Sheed & Ward, 1973.

See also


  1. Greene, Dana. "Ward, Mary Josephine". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/45905.(Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  2. Sheed, Wilfrid (1986). Frank and Maisie: a memoir with parents. New York: Simon And Schuster. p. 48. ISBN 978-0-671-62813-0.
  3. Ward, Josephine; Ward, Maisie, eds. (1918). Last Lectures by Wilfred Ward. London: Longmans, Green & Co.
  4. Ward, Maisie (1943). Gilbert Keith Chesterton. London: Sheed & Ward.
  5. "Frank Sheed". Ignatius Insight. Ignatius Press.
  6. Thrapp, Dan (13 March 1965). "Street Corner Is Place to Preach, Author Says". LA Times.
  7. Sheed, Frank (1979). The instructed heart: soundings at four points. London: Sheed and Ward. ISBN 978-0-7220-7935-5.
  8. Eder, Richard (30 October 1985). "A Son Sheds Light on His Parents' Radiance". LA Times.
  9. Carlos Marighella (1971), For the Liberation of Brazil, translated by John Butt and Rosemary Sheed, London: Penguin.

Further reading

  • Frank Sheed, The Church and I, Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1974.
  • Wilfrid Sheed, Frank and Maisie: A Memoir with Parents, New York: Simon & Schuster, 1985.
  • Dana Greene, The Living of Maisie Ward. University of Notre Dame Press, 1997.
  • Frank Sheed, The Instructed Heart: Soundings at Four Depths, Our Sunday Visitor, 1979.
  • "Concealed With a Kiss," in Joseph Pearce, Literary Giants, Literary Catholics, Ignatius Press, 2005.
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