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The Henwife.

Her own experience in her own Poultry-Yard.

To Which Is Added The Henwife's Later Experience.


With illustrations by Harrison Weir


Edinburgh : Thomas C Jack

Eighth edition


Ten beautiful hand colored engraved plates highlighted with gum arabic, including 8 of chickens one of ducks and one wild turkey, plus 19 woodcuts in the text. Eighth edition, small 8vo, 218 pp the upper hinge has been repaired. Original gilt titled green buckram like cloth, top of spine a little worn some other minor rubbing. Internally clean.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Barbara Elrington Douglas Arbuthnott (b. September 12th 1822, d. September 1904 in Sunndal) was born into a wealthy Scottish family. She was a well-known benefactor who was well versed in foreign languages.

Her father, Colonel Sir Neil Douglas, (d. 1853) was ADC to the Duke of Wellington at the Battle of Waterloo. In her youth, she studied Greek, Latin and German in Brussels (1831 - 1840) and she met Queen Victoria in 1842. On her father’s travels in the East she learnt Hindi.

In London , she met among others, the famous violinist and theatre founder Ole Bull. She first married James Allen (1846 – 1849 died of cholera), then Neil Ferguson (died in the Crimean War). She came to Sunndal, Norway on her honeymoon with her third husband, Hon William Arbuthnott, son of 8th Viscount of Arbuthnott [1]. They were divorced after her 20-year old son from her first marriage died, allegedly because she thought her husband had provoked an epileptic fit by quarreling with her son, who then died at Fokstua coaching inn on September 15th 1868.

She was renowned, among other things, for driving her sick son with a horse and wagon across Dovrefjell, trying to save his life. After her son’s death she bought the farm Løken, which is now a local museum, called Leikvin. Then she cleared the land for a new farm, Elverhøy. She taught herself Norwegian, cohabited with the translator, Oluf Endresen from Sunndal, and was said to be extremely rich and very generous, giving magnificent parties for the bourgeoisie. She took an interest in the local health service and the local rifle club, founded a local library and was an agricultural pioneer. She brought poultry and swine of British quality to the valley, and she wrote books about chicken farming, ‘’The Henwife’’ and ‘’The Henwife – her later experiences’’. She built the mountain farm, Alfheim, high up in Grøndalen in 1876.

Her English bank went bankrupt in 1886, and from 1892 to her death she lived in poverty at Einabu near Grøa, bed with board and lodging paid for by benevolent neighbours. She co-habited with the local teacher Lars Hoaas.

The municipality of Sunndal has ever since used the term “Lady” as an icon. The musical Lady Arbuthnott – The mistress of Elverhøy is performed every year in Sunndal, the first time in 1996. The documentary film, Lady Arbuthnott – The Queen of Sunndal was shown in 1999 on The Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation - NRK.



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