Matilda Betham-Edwards

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Not to be confused with her aunt, the poet Matilda Betham (1776–1852).
Matilda Betham-Edwards ca. 1893

Matilda Betham-Edwards (March 4, 1836 Westerfield, Ipswich – January 4, 1919 Hastings) was an English novelist, travel writer and francophile. She was also a prolific poet and wrote several children's books. She also corresponded with well-known English male poets of the day.


She was the daughter of a clergyman. Matilda studied French and German abroad and after some school teaching in London, she settled down with her sister in Suffolk to manage the farm which had belonged to her father, who had died in 1864. Not content, however, with purely rural occupations, she contributed from time to time to Household Words, having the advantage at this time of the friendship of Charles Dickens and an early association with Charles and Mary Lamb, friends of her mother.

On her sister's death, she moved to London and wrote a number of novels of French life based on her frequent visits to France and her intimate knowledge of provincial French homes, as well as schildren's books, and non-fiction books about France. She was published by George and Richard Bentley.[1]

Of Huguenot descent, she considered France her second native land and made it her mission to bring about better understanding and sympathy between the two countries which shared her allegiance. In this way, she did much to promote a better understanding between English and French people. The French government made her an Officier de l’Instruction Publique de France in recognition of her untiring efforts towards the establishment of a genuine and lasting entente cordiale. She was awarded a medal at the Franco-British Exhibition (1908).

She is often cited in anthologies of historic lesbian poetry, but there is no strong evidence that she had lesbian tendencies. She died in Hastings, Sussex in 1919. Professor Joan Rees has written the only biography of Matilda Betham-Edwards, in 2006 (see below for further details).

Works by Matilda Betham-Edwards[edit]

  • The White House by the Sea 1857
  • Holidays Among the Mountains (or Scenes and Stories of Wales) 1860
  • Little Bird Red and Little Bird Blue (verse drama) 1861
  • John and I 1862
  • Dr. Jacob 1864
  • A Winter with the Swallows 1867
  • Through Spain to the Sahara 1868
  • Kitty 1869
  • The Sylvestres 1871
  • Felicia 1875
  • Bridget 1877
  • Brother Gabriel 1878
  • Six Life Stories of Famous Women 1880
  • Forestalled 1880
  • Pearla 1883
  • Half-Way 1886
  • Next of Kin Wanted 1887
  • The Parting of the Ways 1888
  • For One and the World 1889
  • A Romance of the Wire 1891
  • Edition of Arthur Young’s Travels in France 1892
  • Romance of a French Parsonage 1892
  • France of To-Day 1892
  • The Curb of Honour 1893
  • A Romance of Dijon 1894
  • The Golden Bee and other Recitations 1895
  • Autobiography of Arthur Young 1898
  • The Lord of the Harvest 1899
  • Anglo-French Reminiscences 1900
  • A Suffolk Courtship 1900
  • Mock Beggars’ Hall 1902
  • Barham Brocklebank 1903
  • A Humble Lover 1903
  • Home Life in France 1905
  • Martha Rose 1906
  • Poems 1907
  • A Close Ring 1907
  • Literary Rambles in France 1907
  • Friendly Faces of Three Nationalities 1911
  • In French Africa 1912
  • From an Islington Window 1914
  • Hearts of Alsace 1916
  • Twentieth Century France 1917
  • French Fireside Poetry 1919
  • Mid-Victorian Memories 1919

See also[edit]



External links[edit]