Wynnard HOOPER 1853 - 1935
Born 14th March 1853
Died 24th August 1935
Married Frances Hubbard (Auntie Dick) at St Mary Abbot Church, Kensington, 1 September 1891
Uncle Wynnard and Auntie Dick
“She was very slender with a halo of pale ash-blond curls; her skin was of a transparent pallor, and her eyes were a pale translucent sea-green, with a strikingly dark band of colour round each iris. Her features were clear cut and delicate, with a slight lift of unconscious arrogance. When she and her sister Emma, were out walking together as young girls, they were both so lovely that it was quite the usual thing for passers-by to stop and turn round to stare at them. Auntie Dick was the pure ice-maiden, and her personality gave the effect of a cold suppressed flame behind the ice. I do not recall that she often spoke or asserted herself in any way, but she had only to enter the room and all eyes turned to her. It was impossible to be aware of anyone else when she was present. She was always completely detached and aloof, a strange, unearthly creature moving among ordinary mortals and making them appear coarse and mundane by comparison. She had a brilliant wit, and a most amusing tongue, when she cared to exert herself, and was also an accomplished pianist and artist. But she never seemed to do anything much, and she never needed to. Her beauty and strange cold radiance were quite sufficient justification for her existence. It was enough that she was.
"Her husband, Uncle Wynnard, was her complete antithesis. He was stout and stocky, with a short black beard, and a robust enjoyment of life. He adored Auntie Dick, and never seemed able to understand how she could have come to marry him. He was a most lively and entertaining person, kindly and warm hearted, and hid a remarkable intellect behind a facade of completely idiotic chatter. His tough appearance was surprisingly belied by his high-pitched speaking voice, though he somehow managed to sing among the basses in the Bach choir. The family never appreciated Uncle Wynnard at his true worth, and never attempted to hide from him their conviction that Auntie Dick had thrown herself away on him. This was where Father, together with many others of the family, made a very bad, and as it proved, costly mistake. Uncle Wynnard, though one of the most unassuming of men, held an exceedingly high position on the financial staff of the Times, and was, I believe, Financial Editor eventually. No one holding such a position, could have been the fool that the family seemed to consider him, and if only Father had accepted his expert, and readily offered, advice, he would not have suffered the terrible financial losses which left him and Mother almost penniless towards the end of their lives.
"It was Auntie Dick and Uncle Wynnard who introduced me to the wonders of Covent Garden Opera, Queen’s Hall and Albert Hall concerts and to the glories of the Bach Choir. It was they who took me to Burlington House to the opening of the Royal Academy, to Lords’, to the Boat Race and to the Tournament at Olympia. We always went everywhere in a style and comfort which in themselves were an unbounded delight to me. They both wore full evening dress on such occasions as demanded it.
On fine Sunday mornings Uncle Wynnard, immaculate in morning coat, striped trousers, top hat, spats, lavender gloves and discreet buttonhole, would take me walking in Kensington Gardens by the Round Pond, where we watched the model yachts. He was a great sportsman in many spheres, an accomplished mountaineer, a crack shot. He always shot at Bisley each year and went deerstalking from the shooting box of friends in the Highlands. He was also an expert judge of cricket and rowing, and an ardent fisherman. His study was packed with guns, fishing rods, alpenstocks, hobnailed boots and gear of every sort. He was also an accomplished music and art critic, and a boyhood friend of Rudyard Kipling, with whom he maintained a lifelong friendship. He had an absolutely prodigious memory, and his conversation and companionship contributed far more to my education than all I ever learnt at school. He could, and did, talk by the hour on every subject under the sun, and never tired of my eager questions. If from Auntie Dick I learned the refinements and elegancies of life, from Uncle Wynnard I acquired a breadth of outlook and knowledge of every sort and kind, for which I can never be sufficiently grateful.”
Frances Ann Roper (née Hubbard)
Kipling's friend Wynn
"Wynn" was Wynnard Hooper (1853-1935), statistician and journalist, on the editorial staff of The Times from 1882 to 1914.
See page 62 Kipling Journal September 1991