Born Emily Hilda Young.
Although almost completely forgotten by recent generations, E. H. Young was a best-selling novelist of her time. She was born the daughter of a shipbroker and attended Gateshead Secondary School (a higher grade school later renamed Gateshead Grammar School) and Penrhos College, Colwyn Bay, Wales. In 1902, at the age of 22, she married Arthur Daniell, a solicitor from Bristol, and moved with him to the upscale neighbourhood of Clifton.
Here, Young developed an interest in classical and modern philosophy. She became a supporter of the suffragette movement, and started publishing novels. She also began a lifelong affair with Ralph Henderson, a schoolteacher and a friend of her husband.
When the First World War broke out in 1914, Young went to work, first as a stables groom and then in a munitions factory. Her husband was killed at the Battle of Ypres in 1917. The following year she moved to Sydenham Hill, London to join her lover, now the headmaster of the public school Alleyn's, and his wife in a ménage à trois. Young occupied a separate flat in their house and was addressed as 'Mrs Daniell'; this concealed the unconventional arrangement.
This change seems to have been the catalyst that she needed. Seven major novels followed, all based on Clifton, thinly disguised as 'Upper Radstowe'. The first of these was The Misses Mallett, published originally under the title The Bridge Dividing in 1922. Her 1930 novel Miss Mole won the James Tait Black Award for fiction. In the 1940s, Young also wrote books for children, Caravan Island (1940) and River Holiday (1942).
After Henderson's retirement and the death of his wife, Young moved with him to Bradford on Avon in Wiltshire. They never married. During the Second World War, she worked actively in air raid precautions. She lived in Wiltshire with Henderson until her death from lung cancer in 1949.
Although popular in her time, Young's work has nearly vanished today. In 1980, a four-part series based on her novels – mainly Miss Mole – was shown on BBC television as "Hannah". The feminist publishing house Virago reprinted several of her books in the 1980s, and the Clifton and Hotwells Improvement Society has marked her Clifton home with a plaque.
The 'E H Young Prize for Greek Thought' was an annual essay prize awarded in her memory at Bristol Grammar School.