Skip to main menu Skip to content
Ryerson University has changed its name. Find out more.
Information on Library resources and services for: Students | Instructors | Researchers

Winnifred Eaton (Onoto Watanna)

Winnifred Eaton was born in Montreal in 1875, although she claimed her year of birth was 1879, to a British father and Chinese mother. She moved to New York, married journalist Bertrand Babcock and began publishing romance novels under the Japanese-sounding pseudonym Onota Watanna. She is considered to be the first novelist of Chinese descent to be published in North America, yet she passed herself off as half-Japanese for most of her career as a novelist. Following a divorce, she married Francis Reeve during World War I and moved with him to a ranch in Alberta. Marital discord led her to leave her husband and the ranch. She settled in Calgary and continued writing novels. Eaton worked for a few years as a scenario writer for motion pictures in New York and then Hollywood before reconciling with Reeve and returning to Calgary where he was comfortably settled owing to success in the oil business. She wrote no further novels. Eaton’s writing career included numerous short stories and some non-fiction that was often published under her real names. Her non-fiction work included Chinese-Japanese Cooking that she co-wrote with her sister Sara Bosse. Published in 1914, this is regarded as the first Asian cookbook published in North America. Winnifred Eaton Babcock Reeve died in 1954.



Toronto: Musson, 1923?
London: Hutchinson, 1923.
New York: W.J. Watt, 1924.

The Canadian ed. was published under the pseudonym Onota Watonna, but the American ed. stated her name as Winnifred Eaton (Onata Watonna)


Daughters of Nijo: A Romance of Japan

With illustrations and decorations by Kiyokichi Sano.
New York: Macmillan, 1904.
PS8545 .A73 D3


The Diary of Delia: Being a Veracious Chronicle of the Kitchen with Some Side-lights on the Parlour

Illustrated by May Wilson Preston.
New York: Doubleday, Page, 1907.

Fiction (Short stories, and Essays)

“A Half Caste” and Other Writings

Edited by Linda Trinh Moser and Elizabeth Rooney.
Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2003.
PS8545 .A73 H35 2003

Includes thirteen short stories and six essays.


The Heart of Hyacinth

Decorations by Kiyokichi Sano.
New York: Harper and Brothers, 1903.
PS8545 .A73 H4 1903
Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2000.

Reprint Publisher’s Synopsis (from its website)

The Heart of Hyacinth, originally published in 1903, tells the coming-of-age story of Hyacinth Lorrimer, a child of white parents who was raised from infancy in Japan by a Japanese foster mother and assumed to be Eurasian. A crisis occurs when, 18 years after her birth, her American father returns to Japan to reclaim her just as Hyacinth has become engaged to a Japanese aristocrat, and she forcefully asserts her Japanese ties only to find that her prospective father-in-law will not tolerate a white wife for his son. …


His Royal Nibs

New York: W.J. Watt, 1925.

This volume was published under the name Winnifred Eaton Reeve.


The Honorable Miss Moonlight

New York: Harper and Brothers, 1912.


A Japanese Blossom

Illustrated by L.W. Ziegler.
New York: Harper and Brothers, 1906.


A Japanese Nightingale

Illustrated by Genjiro Yeto.
New York: Harper and Brothers, 1901.
PS8545 .A73 J3
New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 2001.

Also reprinted as part of:
Long, John Luther. “Madame Butterfly” and “A Japanese Nightingale”: Two Orientalist Texts. Edited by Maureen Honey and Jean Lee Cole. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 2002.


The Love of Azalea

Illustrated by Gazo Foudji.
New York: Dodd, Mead, 1904.
Toronto: Musson Book Co., 1904.
PS8545 .A73 L6

Fiction (Autobiographical)

Marion: The Story of an Artist’s Model

Illustrations by Henry Hutt.
New York: W.J. Watt, 1916.

Published anonymously with an author statement: By Herself and the author of “Me”

Reprinted with a new introduction by Karen E.H. Skinazi.
Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2012.
 PS8459 .A86 M37 2012

Fiction (Autobiographical)

Me: A Book of Remembrance

New York: Century, 1915.
Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1997.
Afterword by Linda Trinh Moser
PS8459 .A86 Z65 1997

Publisher’s Synopsis (University Press of Mississippi)

In Me: A Book of Remembrance, reissued here in a new edition, Nora Ascouth is a powerless young woman typical of the working class. In the narrative, as Nora journeys from her birthplace in Canada to search out a career, first in Jamaica, and then in the United States, Eaton imparts her own experiences with rejection and the struggle to gain success and love.

The autobiographical plotline likewise discloses a remarkable secret, the author’s ethnic shame and her reticence to speak of her own half-Chinese identity. “I myself was dark and foreign-looking.” Nora says, “but the blond type I adored.” Like other ethnic immigrants, Winnifred and Nora are indoctrinated by America’s Anglo preference.

Nora’s painful search ends, however, as the author’s did. She gains achievements as a novelist.


Miss Numè of Japan: A Japanese-American Romance

Chicago: Rand McNally, 1899.
Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1999.



Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1922.
London: Hutchinson, 1922?
New York: George H. Doran, 1922.



Illustrated by Genjiro Kataoka.
New York: Harper and Brothers, 1910.


The Wooing of Wistaria

New York: Harper and Brothers, 1902.

Selected Criticism/Biography

Adams, Bella. “Winnifred Eaton and Edith Eaton, Selected Stories (1900-15).” In her Asian American Literature. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2008.
PS508 .A8 A33 2008

Birchall, Diana. Onoto Watanna: The Story of Winnifred Eaton. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2001.
PS8545 .A73 Z53 2001

Botshon, Lisa. “Winnifred Eaton.” In Asian American Novelists: A Bio-Bibliographical Critical Sourcebook, ed. Emmanuel S. Nelson, [93]-98. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 2000.
PS153 .A84 A825 2000

Chia, Christina Mei Ting. “”People of Color”: The Black-white Binary and United States Multiracism, 1883-1909.” Ph.D. diss., Duke University, 2004.
Available from Proquest Dissertations and Theses

Cole, Jean Lee. “Winnifred Eaton: Guided by Voices.” Ph.D. diss., The University of Texas at Austin, 2000.
Available from Proquest Dissertations and Theses

Ferens, Dominika. Edith and Winnifred Eaton: Chinatown Missions and Japanese Romances. Urbana, Ill.: University of Illinois Press, 2002.
PS8487 .U5 Z68 2002

Ferens, Dominika. “Edith and Winnifred Eaton: The Uses of Ethnography in Turn-of-the-century Asian-American Literature.” Ph.D. diss., University of California, Los Angeles, 1998.
Available from Proquest Dissertations and Theses

Hebbar, Reshmi J. “Someday My Prince Will Come: Ambivalent Romance and Ethnicity in the Fiction of the Easton Sisters” In her Modeling Minority Women: Heroines in African and Asian American Fiction. New York: Routledge, 2005.
PS153 .A84 H43 2005

Heidenreich, Rosmarin. “Hybrid Identities: The Eaton Sisters” In her Literary Imposters: Canadian Autofiction of the Early Twentieth Century. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2018, p. 202-255.
PS8185 .A88 H45 2018

Hodges, Anita Polunga. “Collective Visions of Women: Representations of Gender and Race in the Writings of Women of Color: 1900-1940.” Ph.D. diss., University of Hawai’i, 1998.
Available from Proquest Dissertations and Theses

Kim, Yung Min. “Children of Empire: Racial Romance in the Asia-Pacific Writings of Winnifred Eaton and Jack London.” Ph.D. diss., University of Maryland College Park, 2002.
Available from Proquest Dissertations and Theses

Lee, Katherine Hyunmi. “North American Orientalism: The Career and Works of Winnifred Eaton (1875-1954).” Ph.D. diss., University of Missouri – Columbia, 2001.
Available from Proquest Dissertations and Theses

Nakachi, Sachi. “Mixed-race Identity Politics in Nella Larsen and Winnifred Eaton (Onoto Watanna).” Ph.D. diss., Ohio University, 2001.
Available from Proquest Dissertations and Theses

Nessly, William M. “Rewriting the Rising Sun: Narrative Authority and Japanese Empire in Asian American Literature.”  Ph.D. diss., University of Pennsylvania, 2011.
Available from Proquest Dissertations and Theses

Ouyang, Huining.  “(Re)presenting Interracial Sexuality: Race, Sex and Discursive Strategies in Sui Sin Far and Onoto Watanna.”  Ph.D. diss., Purdue University, 1998.
Available from Proquest Dissertations and Theses

Shih, David.  “Representation and Exceptionalism in the Asian American Autobiography ”  Ph.D. diss, University of Michigan, 1999.
Available from Proquest Dissertations and Theses

Skinazi, Karen Esther Hanna. “Canadianation: Remapping the Popular Literature of the United States of North America.” Ph.D. diss., New York University, 2005.
Available from Proquest Dissertations and Theses

Spaulding, Carol Vivian. “Blue-eyed Asians: Eurasianism in the work of Edith Eaton/Sui Sin Far, Winnifred Eaton/Onoto Watanna, and Diana Chan.” Ph.D. diss., University of Iowa, 1996.
Available from Proquest Dissertations and Theses

Yimwilai, Supaporn.  “Beyond the Binary: Resistance Strategies in the Writings of Sui Sin Far and Onoto Watanna.”  Ph.D. diss, University of Delaware, 2002.
Available from Proquest Dissertations and Theses