From Jo-Ana Price in New York Maisie Ward, 86, publisher, biographer, activist and Catholic Evidence Guild charter member, who died last week in New York Hospital, was the wife of Frank Sheed, who founded with her the publishing firm of Sheed and ard
The couple, who lived in Jersey City, were noted international speakers and writers on Catholic subjects and intellectual apologists for Catholic faith and doctrine.
Maisie Ward's funeral Mass was offered January 30 in St -Vincent Ferrer's Church, New York, presided over by Cardinal Terence Cooke of New York. The Mass was concelebrated by 12 diocesan and religious priests. Chief concelebrant was Fr Hugh O'Donnell of St Aedan's Church, Jersey City, Miss Ward's home parish.
Her death brought tributes here from many friends and associates in the publishing world.
Among these was that of Fr Joseph A. O'Hare, Si, acting editor-in-chief of the Jesuit weekly magazine America, who described her as "one of the two best-known women in the English-speaking Catholic world."
The other, he said, was Maisie Ward's friend, Dorothy Day, who, like her, "helped to mould the intellectual and spiritual life of several generations." Father O'Hare added: "Countless Catholic men and women learned from the very existence of the famous publishing house of Sheed and Ward that one can be both fully Catholic and fully committed to the exercise of intelligence in
theology, philosophy, letters and the arts, and political action."
The example set by the "tireless energy" and books published by Sheed and Ward, the Jesuit editor said, represented "Catholic action in the best sense of that phrase." It was "highly unlikely that the unique and intertwined careers of this noble Christian couple will ever be exactly matched." She and Frank Sheed founded Sheed and Ward in London the year they were married, 1926. It branched out to New York in 1933. Two years ago it was sold to Universal Press Syndicate, with Sheed remaining as publisher-emeritus. Maisie Ward was present last autumn at a publishing party given in New York by Double
day and Co., to launch her husband's latest book, "The Church and I." Although in failing health and tiny in appearance at that time, she
was engrossed in the swirl of literary conversation, her eyes twinkling eagerly as each new guest was presented to her.
Maisie Ward was born at Shanklin, Isle of Wight, the daughter of Wilfrid Ward, philospher of the Catholic revival in England. She was perhaps best known as biographer of G. K. Chesterton, Robert and Elizabeth Barrett Browning, and Cardinal John Henry Newman.
Hcr baptised name was Mary Josephine, but she kept her childhood nickname, Maisie, as an author and speaker.
During the 1914-18 war she served as a nurse's aide in military hospitals. In 1919 she became a charter member of the Catholic Evidence Guild, the group of Catholic orators and writers who expound on their Faith on street corners and other places. Through the guild, she met her husband.
With £2,000 and advice from the poet-historian Hilaire Belloc, the couple founded Sheed and Ward, not so much to publish bland "pious" books as to get into print books of high intellectual quality concerning religion and faith. They did this. They also struggled.
Maisic Ward's biography, "Gilbert Keith Chesterton" a noted convert — was written at the request of Chesterton's widow. It appeared in 1943. Nine years later she wrote "Return to Chesterton," about his family life.
"Robert Browning and his World" was published in the late 1960s in two volumes. "The Tragi-Comedy of Pen Browning", about Browning's problem son, was published two years ago by Sheed and Ward.
Before Vatican II Maisie Ward was a supporter of liberal Catholic movements. She was interested in the Catholic Worker movement of Dorothy Day, in the French workerpriests, and in subsidised housing for the needy.
She took pride in knowing the controversial Swiss theologian, Fr Hans Ming and she conceded in one interview she preferred knowing Catholics with a "bias towards the Left."
Surviving besides her husband are a son, Wilfrid Sheed, the • movelist and critic, and a daughter, Rosemary Middleton.