The eldest of the sisters, Ellen did not marry as a young woman, and needed to use her good education (The Mount School in York, 1880-83) to earn a living. Not many professions were open to educated women at the time, but writing and (as in her case) translation were socially acceptable for middle-class ladies. In 1901 at age 36 she entered the Nayland Sanatorium as a patient. The sanatorium was mainly for those with TB; she didn’t have TB, but neurasthenia, which is now identified as chronic fatigue syndrome. The cure at the time was carefully managed rest, as it was for TB. At the Sanatorium she met the campaigning journalist Fyvell Edmund Garrett, and they married in 1903. She took him away from the Sanatorium and they set up home briefly in St Ives in Cornwall, then at Wiverton Acre near Plympton in Devon from June 1904. She nursed him at home until his death from TB in 1907.
If you have access to the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, for instance through your institution or public library, you can read more about her here. Margaret Lesser has published a fascinating paper with much more detail on Ellen’s translating career.
F E Garrett was born in 1865 in Elton, Derbyshire. He was educated at Rossall School and Trinity College, Cambridge. Not a great academic success, he was however a fluent and engaging writer, who soon found himself writing for the Pall Mall Gazette. Already his health was poor, and he was diagnosed with Phthisis (TB) in 1889, with a recommendation to go to a warmer climate. His interest in politics (he was writing on politics and had close family connections with the Womens’ Suffrage movement) made a career in South Africa attractive. He spent only a few months there on his first visit, and returned to England where he became assistant editor of the Pall Mall Gazette. Soon, however, his health caused him to move south again, this time for a couple of years in Egypt. Then two more years in London were followed by his big opportunity, and in 1895 he took on the editorship of the Cape Times. Within another two years he was also an MP in the Cape Assembly, a far-from-well men running two full-time jobs. The Boer War was fast approaching, and Garrett’s health failing, and by 1899 he was obliged to resign his responsibilities and return to England. Still writing on politics from a succession of sanatoria, he met Ellen Marriage in 1901-02.
Much more information on the sadly abbreviated life of a very able and energetic man is to be found in E.T. Cook’s Edmund Garrett, Edward Arnold 1909. I abstracted this brief biography from Ellen’s own copy of this book
More to come on this subject. The initial information is that translating and writing were the core of her working life. Notes from the Register of Old Scholars at her school (The Mount) say she:
translated most of Balzac’s 40-volume “Comedie Humaine”
translated other French works
wrote three novels 1900 – 02 (we don’t know their names yet, they may not have been published)
edited an Ibsen translation by F E Garrett – in 1912 (so, after his death).
was Editor – Common Cause
was Balkan correspondent of Manchester Guardian, Westminster Gazette