Her Only Son by Hesba Stretton.


This is a model book for terseness and point, for its beginning at the beginning, its telling the story and nothing else, and its leaving off at the end. It is also a strong story; true to human nature, touching, tender, painful in its picture of what slavery to drink will do for a man, but with the relief that a mother's fidelity and the charity of a Christian minister bring to its saddened pages. Joanna Fleming, the widowed mother of this only son, goes up from her sweet and tidy country home to London to care for him and his little children after the death of his wife; finds them half starved in a wretched room to which rum has brought them. She stays by, suffers everything, and at last is thrust out into the street by him, in one of his frenzies, and nearly perishes; both, however, are saved by a vicar whose life is spent in looking out for the wretched and sinning, and a new history begins for all. The book is brimful of sweet charity, and is such a warning against drink, so appealing for those who have been overcome, that it ought to be sent out by temperance societies on a mission of good all over the land, not only for the benefit of the unfortunate ones and the encouragement of their helpers, but for those who, like the great house of "Drummond & Co.," get their riches through the liquor traffic.—Review from The Literary World (1887).

Joanna Fleming packed up her bags to go to London to help her son raise his children who had recently lost their mother. She found him living in a poor hovel in an attic and was astounded. She stayed as she had planned, but the money ran out and her son had a drinking problem. The son kicked out the mother and she almost froze to death. The son sought treatment and found a new life.—Curiosmith (2010)

Moral Issues: The consequences of drinking, industry, forgiveness, religious hypocrisy, and sacrificial maternal love.


  • Chapter 1 — Their Old Home
  • Chapter 2 — Her Lonely Journey
  • Chapter 3 — His Home in London
  • Chapter 4 — Her Son
  • Chapter 5 — His Tempters
  • Chapter 6 — Her Surprise And Sorrow
  • Chapter 7 — His Dead Child
  • Chapter 8 — Her Visitor
  • Chapter 9 — Her Breaking Heart
  • Chapter 10 — His Remorse
  • Chapter 11 — Her Lost Memory
  • Chapter 12 — Their Old Home Again


  • Joanna Fleming — the mother.
  • John Fleming — the son in London.
  • Sir Andrew Drummond — owned the estate, but also the corner pub.
  • Lady Drummond — the kind wife of Andrew Drummond.
  • Mrs. Christie — the downstairs neighbor.
  • Ally — the granddaughter.
  • Johnny — the grandson.
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