Anna de Brémont

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Anna Elizabeth, Countess de Brémont (née Dunphy; c. 1849 – October 1922)[1] was an American journalist, novelist, poet and singer. She spent much of her life in England. A period in South Africa provided the material for some of her books.

Early years[edit]

She was born in New York and moved to Cincinnati, Ohio with her mother, following her father's death. Her mother remarried Thomas Malloy.[2]


She was at one time principal singer in the choir of Cincinnati Cathedral[2] and later a contralto soloist at Henry Ward Beecher's church[3] in Brooklyn.[2] In 1877,[4] she married Émile-Leon, the Count de Brémont, a French medical doctor working in New York. Following his death in May 1882,[5] she moved to Europe.[3] she met theatrical promoter Brandon Thomas in London. He set up a literary and musical tour for her, in the course of which she visited India, Australia and South Africa.[2]

In London in 1888, she was initiated into the Order of the Golden Dawn, alongside Oscar Wilde's wife Constance.[6] She later wrote a memoir about Wilde and his mother.[7] In May 1888, she appeared at the Globe Theatre in London in "the Countess de Brémont's Matinee" as Rosalind in the forest scenes from As You Like It. The Era said "her style was decidedly unsatisfactory".[8]

In 1893, in the course of a review of three volumes by de Brémont, published under the general title of The World of Music, the New York Times reported that "it is said that this quondam light of Cincinnati now coruscates amid the incandescents of the Mrs Leo Hunter circle of London."[9]

She spent some time in South Africa. On her departure from the country in June 1890, it was reported that she had a novel based on her experiences there in progress, and had begun preparing a lecture on life in the Transvaal, focusing on the social effects of the discovery of gold.[10] The Gentleman Digger was published the next year, its characters thinly disguised versions of real people.[11]

In 1894, while working for St Paul's magazine in London, she wrote to the librettist W.S. Gilbert requesting an interview. He replied, saying that he would cooperate in return for a fee of 20 guineas. She wrote back saying that she anticipated "the pleasure of writing Mr Gilbert's obituary for nothing". Gilbert retaliated by sending letters to the press which referred to "a lady styling herself the Countess de Brémont". She sued Gilbert for libel, claiming he had implied that she had no right to her title. Gilbert told the court that he had no knowledge of de Brémont except for the letter, and the jury found in his favour.[12]

She was in London during the First World War, where her experiences of German air-raids inspired her novel The Black Opal.[3] In 1920, it was reported her fortune was gone.[13] She died "penniless" in Earl's Court in 1922,[14] aged 73, and was buried in the Roman Catholic section of Kensal Green Cemetery.[15]

Selected works[edit]

  • Love Poems (Cape Town, 1889)
  • The Gentleman Digger: a Study of Johannesburg Life (London, 1891)
  • The World of Music: The Great Virtuosi (1892)
  • The World of Music: The Great Singers (1892)
  • The World of Music: The Great Composers (1892)
  • Sonnets and Love Poems (New York, 1892)
  • The Ragged Edge. Tales of the African Gold Fields (London, 1895)
  • A Son of Africa. A Romance (London, 1899)
  • Daughters of Pleasure: Being the History of Neara a Musician, Athene an Actress, and Hera a Singer (London, 1900)
  • Lady Lilian's Luck. A Romance of Ostend (London, 1907)
  • The Lioness of Mayfair (London, 1909)
  • Mrs Evelyn's Husbands : a Problem in Marriage (London, 1909)
  • Sonnets from a Parisian Balcony (London, 1910)
  • Coronation Sonnets to Her Most Gracious Majesty Queen Mary (London, 1911)
  • Oscar Wilde and his Mother: A Memoir (London, 1911)
  • Love Letters in Verse To a Musician (London and New York, 1914; dedicated to the pianist Thuel Burnham)[16]
  • The Black Opal. A Fantastic Romance (London, 1918)[17]


  • The Doctor Wife 1909. From the French novel Princesses de Science by Colette Yver (a pseudonym for Antoinette Huzard), 1907 Prix Femina


  1. ^ England & Wales, Civil Registration Death Index, 1916-2007
  2. ^ a b c d "Material for a Libretto" (PDF). Roman Citizen (Rome, New York. 11 December 1894.
  3. ^ a b c "Woman of 70 writes book" (PDF). The Telegram (Elmira, New York). 11 January 1920.
  4. ^ "Person details for Emile Leon De Compte De Bremont". Familysearch.
  5. ^ "Funeral of Count de Brémont" (PDF). New York Times. 24 May 1882. Retrieved 31 December 2015.
  6. ^ Moyle, Franny (2011). Constance: The Tragic and Scandalous Life of Mrs Oscar Wilde. Hachette UK. p. 118. ISBN 9781848544611.
  7. ^ "The Gentleman Digger: Being Studies and Pictures of Life in Johannesburg". World Digital Library.
  8. ^ "The Countess de Bremont's Matinee". The Era (London, England) (2591). 19 May 1888.
  9. ^ "Music and Writers of it". New York Times. 8 January 1893.
  10. ^ "Cape News". The Mercury (Hobart, Tasmania). 28 June 1890. p. 1.
  11. ^ "The Gentleman Digger". Western Mail (Perth, Western Australia). 30 December 1899. p. 69. She has relied more on the freedom, happily not usual among novelists, with which, with the slightest of disguises, she has placed real characters in her pages.
  12. ^ "Singular Action for Libel". Birmingham Daily Post (Birmingham, England) (11703). 20 December 1895.
  13. ^ "Her Fortune Gone She Writes Book – American Countess, 70, Has Lost None of Her Courage". Princeton Daily Clarion. Princeton, Indiana, USA. January 10, 1920.
  14. ^ "Vainly Seek Will of Comtesse de Bremont". The Washington Times. October 23, 1922. p. 21.
  15. ^ "Countess' Missing Will". Hawera & Normanby Star (New Zealand). 30 December 1922. p. 9.
  16. ^ "Love Letters in Verse To a Musician". Internet Archive.
  17. ^ "Author List: Anna de Brémont". COPAC. unless otherwise stated