Jessie Ravenna Sharman (b. 1892): Reading & Writing

With Jessie Ravenna Sharman being a well-qualified teacher, reading and writing were obviously skills she possessed with flair. Her autobiography, despite being concise and brief, is a clear reflection of the quality of her writing and the extent of her education; her writing is well-punctuated and grammatically correct.

Sharman rarely mentions any books she has read in her memoir. In passing, she comments on how after she qualified for the second part of her examination to proceed to her scholarship, she and her fellow pupils were sent home for a week to ‘read, mark and digest the volume’(Recollections of Jessie Ravenna Sharman, page 4) of Lord Alfred Tennyson’s collection of poetry, Idylls the of King.


She does, however, inform the reader that her middle name, Ravenna, was chosen by her mother from a work of literature. ‘…the first name after my mother and the second from a fancy name she had read in a book’ (Recollections of Jessie Ravenna Sharman, page one) Unfortunately, Sharman never enlightens the audience with which work this name was plucked from. By researching the word ‘Ravenna’, I discovered that it is in fact an Italian town. In addition to this, it was also revealed that there are a fair few literary works involving the town Ravenna. Oscar Wilde’s poem seemed to prop up the most, which begs the question – could Sharman’s mother have picked her middle name from Oscar Wilde’s poem, Ravenna, written in 1878?


Quote from Wilde’s Ravenna:
‘O how my heart with boyish passion burned,
When far away across the sedge and mere
I saw that Holy City rising clear,
Crowned with her crown of towers!–On and on
I galloped, racing with the setting sun,
And ere the crimson after-glow was passed,
I stood within Ravenna’s walls at last!’


618 SHARMAN, Jessie Ravenna, ‘RecolIections of Jessie Ravenna Sharman’, TS, pp.8 (c.2,000 words). BruneI University Library.

Wilde, Oscar, Ravenna, [available online:]

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