York University Libraries | Clara Thomas Archives & Special Collections online exhibits

Wynne, May

Dublin Core


Wynne, May

Person Item Type Metadata

Birth Date




Death Date


Biographical Text

Authored by: Victoria Ho

May Wynne (1875-1949) and Lester Lurgan were pseudonyms that Mabel Winifred Knowles used to write her stories. Knowles was born in London and was a popular writer and a church worker. Her first few books were under her own name and she wrote stories such as Life’s Object: or Some Thoughts for Young Girls (1899) and In the Shadows or Thoughts for Mourners (1900), which were very serious and old-fashioned compared to books that she would eventually write. Her popularity started when she wrote more than 200 stories for several periodicals that were well-read among middle-class and upper-class females. These included Cassell’s Family Magazine, Lady’s Realm, Pall Mall Magazine, and other periodicals.

Under her pen-name May Wynne, she wrote over 80 romance and historical fiction stories between 1904-1945 that were extremely popular among young girls and women. Often times these stories were about young women experiencing an adventurous romance in a specific era, and meeting well-known historical figures along the way. These stories included; A King’s Tragedy (1904), and A Spy for Napolean (1917) that were extremely popular among her readers.

Using the pen-name Lester Lurgen she wrote 6 science fiction novels between 1910-1913 that were also very popular. A message from Mars (1912) was a collaboration with Richard Ganthony to novelize his play A Message from Mars: A fantastic Comedy in Three Acts (1899). Due to its popularity it was also filmed as a movie in the U.K called A Message from Mars (1913).  

Furthermore, she also wrote over 100 children’s books that looked at contemporary girls and their own opportunities for peril and bravery. Some of these stories included Adventures of Two (1920) and A Cousin from Canada (1918).


Henderson, Lesley., and D. L Kirkpatrick. Twentieth-century Romance and Historical Writers. 2nd ed., St.James Press, 1990.

Mitchell, Sally. “Knowles, Mabel Winifred (1875–1949).” Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Online ed. Ed. David Cannadine. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004. http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/58982. Accessed 24 July 2017.


“Wynne, May,” York University Libraries | Clara Thomas Archives & Special Collections online exhibits, accessed December 10, 2023, https://archives.library.yorku.ca/items/show/4217.