Eliza Meteyard

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Eliza Meteyard (1816–1879) was an English writer. She was known for journalism, essays, novels and biographies, particularly as an authority on Wedgwood pottery and its creator. She made a living writing for periodicals.[1]


The daughter of William Meteyard, a surgeon, and his wife Mary, daughter of Zebedee Beckham of Great Yarmouth, she was born on 21 June 1816, in Lime Street, Liverpool. In 1818 her father became surgeon to the Shropshire militia; she went to Shrewsbury, and in 1829 moved to Thorpe, near Norwich, where she remained till 1842, when she settled in London.[2]

She brought forward proposals for female education, and was active in the Whittington Club.[3][4]

Meteyard died on 4 April 1879 at Stanley Terrace, Fentiman Road, South Lambeth. For a number of years she had enjoyed a civil list pension. A marble medallion of her was executed by Giovanni Fontana, and once belonged to her friend Joseph Mayer, who had helped her in bringing out the Life of Wedgwood.[2]


Meteyard began literary work in 1833 by assisting her eldest brother, a tithe commissioner, in preparing his reports relating to the eastern counties. She afterwards became a regular contributor of fiction and social articles to the periodical press, writing in Eliza Cook's Journal, the People's Journal, Tait's Magazine, Chambers's Journal, Household Words, Country Words, and other journals.[2] One of the topics she highlighted was women's role in emigration.[5] To the first number of Douglas Jerrold's Weekly Newspaper she contributed a leading article; Douglas Jerrold appended the signature of "Silverpen", which she adopted as pen name.[2] She gained prizes for essays on Juvenile Depravity and Omnibus Conductors.

Her first novel was written in 1840 for Tait's Magazine, and republished in 1845 as Struggles for Fame. Her most popular novels were Mainstone's House keeper, 1860, and Lady Herbert's Gentle-woman, 1862. Between 1850 and 1878 she wrote a series of stories and novels for children. Her girls' novel Dora and Her Papa is a vivid account of a child's life among antiquarians in the Derbyshire Peak District.[2]

For Howitt's Journal, started by William Howitt and Mary Howitt, Meteyard wrote fiction highlighting small-scale social reform. Her view of prostitution was based on research in police and prison reports.[6]

In 1861, Meteyard turned to non-fiction with Hallowed Spots of Ancient London and in 1865–6 her major Life of Josiah Wedgwood, in two volumes.[2] She used the Wedgwood papers collected by Joseph Mayer; she also acknowledged help from Bennett Woodcroft and Samuel Smiles.[7] This work was followed in 1871 by A Group of Englishmen (1795–1815), being Records of the younger Wedgwoods and their Friends. In 1875 she wrote The Wedgwood Handbook, a Manual for Collectors, and contributed the letterpress descriptions to Wedgwood and his Works, 1873, Memorials of Wedgwood, 1874, Choice Examples of Wedgwood Ware, 1879, and a Catalogue of Wedgwood Manufactures.[2]


  1. ^ Kay Boardman (1 October 2004). Popular Victorian Women Writers. Manchester University Press. pp. 46–7. ISBN 978-0-7190-6450-0. Retrieved 12 April 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Sutton 1894.
  3. ^ Laurel Brake; Marysa Demoor (2009). Dictionary of nineteenth-century journalism in Great Britain and Ireland. Academia Press. p. 410. ISBN 978-90-382-1340-8. Retrieved 12 April 2012. 
  4. ^ Peter Gordon; David Doughan (2001). Dictionary of British Women's Organisations, 1825-1960. Woburn Press. p. 150. ISBN 978-0-7130-0223-2. Retrieved 12 April 2012. 
  5. ^ Catherine Hall; Sonya O. Rose (21 December 2006). At Home With the Empire: Metropolitan Culture And the Imperial World. Cambridge University Press. p. 113. ISBN 978-0-521-85406-1. Retrieved 12 April 2012. 
  6. ^ Sally Mitchell (1 January 1981). The Fallen Angel: Chastity, Class, and Women's Reading, 1835-1880. Popular Press. pp. 31–2. ISBN 978-0-87972-155-8. Retrieved 12 April 2012. 
  7. ^ Christine MacLeod (20 December 2007). Heroes of Invention: Technology, Liberalism and British Identity, 1750-1914. Cambridge University Press. p. 308. ISBN 978-0-521-87370-3. Retrieved 12 April 2012. 

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainSutton, Charles William (1894). "Meteyard, Eliza". In Lee, Sidney. Dictionary of National Biography. 37. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 

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