Mrs. Grenander

Isabella Grenander. Image copyright the British Library Board. courtesy of the British Newspaper Archive.

Henning Grenander is one of the big names in the early days of figure skating. He was born in 1974 in Sweden and won worlds in 1898, when it was held in London. In the same year, according to Hines, he relocated to England, where he served as a judge in the 1908 Olympics (2011, 103). He died in 1958.

On November 30, 1901, he married Isabella Wilson, age 27, who was born in Edinburgh. The ceremony took place at All Saints’ Church and was followed by a reception at Isabella’s parents’ house. They received “numerous and costly” presents. Afterward, they left for St. Moritz, one of the Swiss resorts that was popular among skaters (“Weddings,” 836–837).

The 1911 census records them living at 13 Upper Wimpole Street in Marylebone, London, with their eight-year-old daughter Jean, a nurse, a cook, three housemaids, a kitchenmaid, a butler, and a footman. This, along with Grenander’s work on the medical field, points to them being quite well-off.

Did Isabella skate? Of course she did. If the St. Moritz honeymoon wasn’t enough of a clue, in 1905, The Bystander called her and her sister “perhaps the most skilful and the most accomplished skaters in London,” and yet she doesn’t seem to have competed. Their daughter Jean, however, seems to have avoided making her own place in the annals of skating history.


1911 England Census, digital image s.v. “Isabella Grenander.”

The Bystander. 1905. “Skilful Habituées of Prince’s Skat…” The Bystander. November 8, 1905.

Gentlewoman. 1901. “Weddings of the Week.” December 14, 1901.

James R. Hines. 2011. Historical Dictionary of Figure Skating. Plymouth, UK: Scarecrow Press.

London, England, Church of England Marriages and Banns, 1754–1932, digital image s.v. “Henning Grennan Esaias Grenander.”