Eliza Craven Green

Best remembered today for having written the lyrics for ‘Ellan Vannin’, Eliza Craven Green was a highly renowned actress on the Douglas stage during the 1820s – a period that she recalled in her poetry for the rest of her life.

Born in Kirkgate, Leeds, on the 10th of December 1803, Eliza Craven came to the island as an actress for the New Theatre on Athol Street in 1824. Although she became very popular, it did not halt the theatre’s financial troubles which brought its closure in July 1825.

Her short time on the island had a deep effect on her as she fell in love with the island and its folklore. It was this that stood as the inspiration to her first published work, A Legend of Mona, a story based on Manx folklore which was published in 1825. This connection to the Isle of Man stayed with her even after she came to leave her adopted home at Ballaughton in Braddan to return to the North of England in July 1825. She continued to write of the island and its folklore in poems and stories which were published in the press both in England and in the Isle of Man, initially as Eliza S. Craven, and then as Eliza Craven Green after her marriage in 1830. It was under this name that she published her collected poems, Sea Weeds and Heath Flowers, or Memories of Mona, in 1858.

By the time she came to die in Leeds on the 11th of March 1866, her poem ‘Ellan Vannin’ was already effectively established as the Manx “national anthem,” as it was known before 1907 when the current National Anthem was introduced. Part of this poem’s great force was due to Eliza Craven Green’s having expressed perfectly a love and longing for the Isle of Man which has rung true for Manx people in exile ever since:

And I give, with tears and blessings,
My fondest thoughts to thee,
My own dear Ellan Vannin
And thy green hills by the sea.

Works by this Eliza Craven Green

Sea Weeds and Heath Flowers, or Memories of Mona