Frances M Jones Bannerman (1855-1944) was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia, the youngest daughter of Lt Governor AG Jones.
She was an oil painter, watercolorist and an illustrator in black and white.
In Halifax, Frances studied under Forshaw Day and in Paris she was a pupil of the Salon artist François Nicolas Auguste Feyen-Perrin. After exhibiting in the 1881 Royal Canadian Academy Exhibition in Halifax, she became the first woman elected to Associate status in the Royal Canadian Academy. She began exhibiting her work in London in 1882 and was a regular contributor to shows until 1892. She was part of a select group of female artists exhibited at the Paris Salon in 1883 and 1884.
She married in 1886 to Hamlet Bannerman, a London painter, and moved to Great Marlowe, England.
Frances suffered from arthritis, bouts of influenza and, after the death of her husband in 1895, she ended her painting career. She then turned to poetry, and in 1899 a volume of her verse, entitled Milestones was published.
In 1901 she moved to Italy where she remained until World War II forced her to return to England.
Frances died in Torquay in 1944.
Her best-known poem is An Upper Chamber, which is included in the Oxford Book of English Verse.
An Upper Chamber
I came into the City and none knew me;
None came forth, none shouted ‘He is here!
Not a hand with laurel would bestrew me,
All the way by which I drew anear–
Night my banner, and my herald Fear.
But I knew where one so long had waited
In the low room at the stairway’s height,
Trembling lest my foot should be belated,
Singing, sighing for the long hours’ flight
Towards the moment of our dear delight.
I came into the City when you hail’d me
Saviour, and again your chosen Lord:–
Not one guessing what it was that fail’d me,
While along the way as they adored
Thousands, thousands, shouted in accord.
But through all the joy I knew–I only–
How the hostel of my heart lay bare and cold,
Silent of its music, and how lonely!
Never, though you crown me with your gold,
Shall I find that little chamber as of old!