May Crommelin

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1899 poster advertising Bay Ronald, a "thrilling domestic drama", with photograph of an oil portrait of May de la Cherois Crommelin.

Maria Henrietta de la Cherois Crommelin, known as May de la Cherois Crommelin, (1850–1930) was a novelist and travel writer born in Ulster, Ireland[1] at Carrowdore Castle in County Down.[citation needed]

While growing up, she and her family often lived elsewhere because of the political situation at home, and Crommelin was educated by governesses. The family moved to England in the 1880s[1] and after the death of her traditionalist father in 1885 she lived independently in her own flat in London. Though her family were "French gentry", descended from the Huguenot linen merchant Louis Crommelin,[citation needed] they were not at all wealthy, and Crommelin earned a living by writing. One of her cousins was the astronomer Andrew Claude de la Cherois Crommelin.


She travelled widely, going to the Andes (which she described in her 1896 work Over the Andes From the Argentine to Chili and Peru), the West Indies, North Africa and elsewhere. She wrote 42 novels, which were often based upon her travels. Her first, Queenie, was published in 1874. Orange Lily of 1879 is set in Ulster, where she was born. In 1884 she published Joy, set on Dartmoor where she first lived after coming to England; and her Cross-Roads of 1890 relies on her knowledge of France and Italy. Her work met with mixed reviews: for instance Goblin Gold (1885) was disparaged at the time.[1] She also contributed travel pieces and short stories to magazines like The Idler.

Crommelin's work is not well known today. Her travel writing seems romanticised to modern critics, and her fiction melodramatic.


  1. ^ a b c The Cambridge Guide to Women's Writing in English. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999. "Crommelin, May (Maria Henrietta de la Cherois) 1850 – 1930" (subscription required). Retrieved 13 May 2011.
  • Oxford Companion to Edwardian Fiction 1900–14: New Voices in the Age of Uncertainty, ed.Kemp, Mitchell, Trotter (OUP 1997)
  • The Bibliophile Dictionary, ed. Dole, Morgan, Ticknor (1904)
  • Evelyn O'Callaghan, "A Hot Place, belonging to Us": The West Indies in Nineteenth Century Travel Writing by Women in Landscape and Empire ed. Hooper (Ashgate 2005)