Margaret Shanks was my great great Aunt. She wrote for the Scottish Farmer from 1893 to her death in 1925. I have just started another blog in which I intend to publish many of her columns. You can find it here:
This is her Obituary:
Readers of the Scottish Farmer throughout the world will learn with profound regret that “Margaret” (formerly “Gretchen”), the writer of our ” household ” column, has passed away. Miss Shanks had been confincd to a nursing cstablishment sincc October last. She under went a serious operation, but recovery appeared to be slow. A few weeks ago she resumed the work in which she delighted, the articles from her pen showing intellectual power undiminished. It appears however that in the course of doing that work, she had contracted a chill, and in a postcard received from hcr no later than Friday, 27th ult, she spoke of retarded recovery. She passed away, if not suddenly rather unexpectedly at 4.15 on Sabbath morning. She was 62 years of age. Her funeral took place from Gosforth (Cumberland) to egremont Cemetery on Wednesday. On account of engagements during the current week the editor was unable to attend, but the staff of the paper was represented by Miss F A MacNeilage. A common sentiment of profound sorrow pervades our office.
“Margaret” was the daughter of James and Margaret Shanks of Woodend, Biggrigg, Cumberland Her father was a member of the well-known family of engineers in Barrhead, and he followed the same profession. Her mother was a native of Kilmaurs Parish Ayrshire, and much of her girl hood was spent in the western shire, where she had many relatives. For health reasons her father took up farming as a side line, and from her mother “Margaret” acquired much of that shrewd wisdom which she so faithfully distilled through her weekly articles. It was through her brother “Robertus” (My Great Grandfather) who first began sending articles, that we became acquainted with Miss Shanks. Her first article in ” The Household ” column would seem to be that which appeared in our issue of 29th December, 1884, entitled ” “The Fare of Our Fathers,”and the next appeared on 25th May, 1895, -Vol. III., p. 415. Its title is ” The Farmers Daughter.” From that time onwards with seldom a weeks intermission until her illness began in October last ” Margaret ” addressed her weekly message to an ever-widening circle of Readers. We gladly acknowledge that her contributions in no small degree were responsible for the ever-increasing circulation of this Journal.
We understand Miss Shanks was one of the most brilliant female students of her time. Her enfeebled health was in measure due to a nervous breakdown on the eve of graduation.It is unnecessary to tell our readers how facile was her pen, how sound her judgement, how encyclopaedic her knowledge, and how exalted her ideals, Her moral and intellectual equipment was an enviable blend of that which is best in the traditional culture of Scotland, with the polish and refinement- which come from fellowship with the masterpieces of English literature. Her thinking was accurate her powers of mental analysis curiously acute Household details became beautified as they passed through the crucible of the mind. Everything about which she wrote acquired a fresh attractiveness and she excelled in reading and reproducing the mentality of the child.
Margaret had quite unusual powers as lecturer. Twice she delivered addresses to Glasgow and West. of Scotland Agricultural discussion Society. On both occasions she had bumper audiences. She early identified herself with the Women’s Rural institute movement and frequently addressed institute meetings. During the war she broke up her little home and took up duty in connection with the efforts of women to do the actual work of the farm.As has been the case with many others who excel and have excelled in literature it cannot be claimed that Miss Shanks was equally supreme in organisation. But taken all in all she served her generation more than well. She lived a life of gracious activity toiling incessantly for the public weal, and she has passed hence, accompanied by the grief and regret of her bereaved relatives and a very wide circle of sorrowing friends. This office mourns.