The Heart of Hyacinth
Winnifred Eaton was a Canadian author and screenwriter. Although she was of Chinese-British ancestry, she published under the Japanese pseudonym Onoto Watanna and under the name Winifred Reeve. Eaton was the daughter of an English merchant, Edward Eaton, who met her Chinese mother while on a business trip to Shanghai. Her mother was Grace “Lotus Blossom” Trefusis, the adopted daughter of English missionaries. In the early 1870s, the Eaton family left England to live in Hudson, New York, but stayed there only a short time before relocating to Montreal, where Winnifred was born.
Her father struggled to make a living, and the large family (14 children) went through difficult times. Nonetheless, the children were raised in an intellectually stimulating environment that saw Winnifred’s elder sister, Edith Maude Eaton become a journalist and an author of stories about the struggles of impoverished Chinese immigrants under the pen name Sui Sin Far. In collaboration with Sara Bosse, Eaton wrote, also under the pseudonym Onoto Watanna, the Chinese-Japanese Cookbook, published in 1914. The authors preface their history of Oriental food and a representative selection of recipes with the reassurance that “When it is known how simple and clean are the ingredients used to make up these oriental dishes, the Westerner will cease to feel that natural repugnance which assails one when about to taste a strange dish of a new and strange land.