Mary Yates (1891 - 1974)

Mary Yates; intelligent, artistic, imaginative and vibrant. From her father she inherited a capacity to see deeply into the landscape and people around her and share with others her insights through her paintings and journals. From her mother she inherited a love of music and the strength and ability to cope with adversity.

From letters written by Emily and Fred it is clear that Mary became the centre of their lives. Their letters are full of discussions about the best ways to develop Mary’s full potential and their views were strengthened by Charlotte Mason’s educational philosophy. Writing to Emily in January 1911 Fred discusses the merits of Mary learning to play chess, “I think Mary would expand over it - it seems to me it would suit the shape of her mind…”

Mary’s mind was certainly expansive and creative. She developed into a great painter and exhibited alongside her father at London exhibitions and one of her pastels was accepted by the Royal Academy. In a letter to his sister Ethel in 1914 Fred acknowledged that, “Mary is doing landscape that quite excels mine

Mary Yates at Hart Head Cottage

Mary’s life was not all creativity. From letters written to her father it is clear that from an early age she shared responsibility for many of the domestic arrangements. In her late twenties Mary took on the additional responsibility of caring for her stepbrother’s children. With little money available it was certainly a difficult task but she still found time to paint and submit work to the Lake Artists’ Society Summer Exhibitions.

In the local area Mary is still remembered as a woman of great warmth and generosity who created a magical world of tiny fairy tea sets made from fish bones, who showed the local children how to make angels in the snow and whose pockets were always full of the most wondrous natural objects.


From notes for an the Exhibition at the Armitt Museum, Ambleside, November 2001 to February 2002. John Hodkinson, Hart Head Cottage, September, 2001.