Emily Gerard

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

(Jane) Emily Gerard (7 May 1849 – 11 January 1905) was a nineteenth-century author best known for the influence her collections of Transylvanian folklore had on Bram Stoker's 1897 novel Dracula.

Frontispiece to The Land Beyond the Forest (1888) by Emily Gerard, illustrated by Elizabeth Thor

Life[edit]

Early life[edit]

Emily Gerard was born on 7 May 1849 at Chesters, Jedburgh, Roxburghshire, Scotland. She was the oldest daughter of Colonel Archibald Gerard (1812-1880) of Rochsoles, Lanarkshire, and Euphemia Erskine (1818-1870), the oldest daughter of the renowned inventor Sir John Robison (1778-1843). She had 3 sisters and 3 brothers including General Sir Montagu Gilbert Gerard (1842-1905).[1] Emily Gerard was also descended from Alexander Gerard (1728-1795) a philosophical writer, Archibald Alison (1757-1839) a Scottish Episcopalian minister and writer, and Gilbert Gerard (1760-1815) a minister of the Church of Scotland and theological writer. Her sister Dorothea Gerard was also a novelist born 9 August 1855 at New Monkland, Lanark, Scotland. [1]

In the 1861 Scotland Census, Emily is recorded as living at 2264 Rochsoles House in Lanarkshire with her parents, her sisters Anne, Dorothea, and Mary, and a staff of 11 servants; they also have several visitors happening to stay at the house at the time of the census-taker's visit.[2] The Gerard family lived in Vienna from 1863 to 1866. Emily was home-schooled until she was 15, when she continued her education studying European languages at the convent of the Sacré Coeur at Riedenburg in Austria for three years. The family background was originally Scottish Episcopalian, but when their mother converted to Catholicism in 1848, the sisters were raised Catholic.[1]

Career[edit]

The two sisters Dorothea and Emily became active participants in the British literary community in the latter half of the nineteenth century, both working collaboratively and independently. Emily Gerard wrote stories for Blackwood’s Magazine, as well as reviewing French and German literature for The Times, and Blackwood's.

Collaboration with Dorothea[edit]

In 1879, Emily began to write novels, with her first major work being a collaboration with her sister Dorothea under the joint pseudonym E. D. Gerard. Reata; or What's in a Name (1880) concerned a Mexican girl's attempts to adapt to European customs and was published in Blackwood’s Magazine. Subsequent novels published by the pair in the same magazine were Beggar My Neighbour (1882), The Waters of Hercules (1885), and A Sensitive Plant (1891). When Dorothea got married and moved, their collaboration ceased. [1] As Dorothea (Gerard) Longard de Longgarde (1855–1915), arguably the more successful and certainly the more prolific novelist of the two, had married an Austro-Hungarian officer, she spent much of her subsequent life in Austria.

Impact of Marriage[edit]

Emily married Chevalier Mieczislas de Laszowski (Polish: Mieczysław Łaszowski), a Polish cavalry officer serving in the Austro-Hungarian Army and twenty years her senior on 14 October 1869 in Salzburg.[3] She had two sons. She was joined by her sisters in 1870, following the death of their mother.[1] As a result of their marriages, the sisters' subsequent novels were often set in Eastern Europe. The Gerard brothers also made contributions to the siblings' literary output, collectively adding up to nearly 60 books and novels. Both brothers were considered sufficiently noteworthy to be listed alongside Emily Gerard in Black's Who Was Who, 1897-1916 (1953). Subsequent to her marriage, she was variously referred to as Emily Gerard, Mrs de Laszowska, Emily Laszowska, or Emily de Laszowska Gerard.

Independent Writing[edit]

Emily’s novels frequently centered around European characters and settings. She utilized her time spent in Hermannstadt and Kronstadt to write about the culture and landscape of Transylvania.[1] Her familiarity with Transylvanian folklore came about as a result of her husband being stationed in the towns of Hermannstadt and Kronstadt from 1883 to 1885.[4] Her book The Land Beyond the Forest (1890) and essay "Transylvania Superstitions" is credited with inspiring Bram Stoker to write Dracula. [1] [5] The latter publication also introduced Stoker to the term "Nosferatu" to describe the undead. Gerard writes:

More decidedly evil is the nosferatu, or vampire, in which every Roumanian peasant believes as firmly as he does in heaven or hell. There are two sorts of vampires, living and dead. The living vampire is generally the illegitimate offspring of two illegitimate persons; but even a flawless pedigree will not insure any one against the intrusion of a vampire into their family vault, since every person killed by a nosferatu becomes likewise a vampire after death, and will continue to suck the blood of other innocent persons till the spirit has been exorcised by opening the grave of the suspected person, and either driving a stake through the corpse, or else firing a pistol-shot into the coffin. To walk smoking round the grave on each anniversary of the death is also supposed to be effective in confining the vampire. In very obstinate cases of vampirism it is recommended to cut off the head, and replace it in the coffin with the mouth filled with garlic, or to extract the heart and burn it, strewing its ashes over the grave. That such remedies are often resorted to even now is a well-attested fact, and there are probably few Roumanian villages where such have not taken place within memory of the inhabitants. There is likewise no Roumanian village which does not count among its inhabitants some old woman (usually a midwife) versed in the precautions to be taken in order to counteract vampires, and who makes of this science a flourishing trade.[6]

Elements from this passage, including the local peasants' suspicions of the vampire, very obviously appear in the first part of Dracula.

Friendship with Twain[edit]

In 1897 Emily Gerard wrote to Mr. Blackwood, of Blackwood's Magazine, asking to be introduced to American author Mark Twain.[7] When Blackwood obliged, Gerard met and befriended Mark Twain, to whom The Extermination of Love (1901) is dedicated. In a letter to Mr. Blackwood, Emily Gerard wrote of Mark Twain that he was "an excessively serious, almost solemn person...but when one can get him in the right vein he is quite fascinating."[8] [7]

Death[edit]

On 11 January 1905 Emily Gerard died in Vienna, Austria where she and her husband had moved following his retirement from active service. She was buried two days later. Her sister Dorothea moved to Austria following the death of her husband and lived the rest of her life as a recluse, dying on 29 September 1915. [1]

Literary criticism[edit]

During her lifetime, Emily was regarded as something of a travel writer with a vast and privileged experience of European countries and expert linguistic abilities. In an 1888 review of her work in Salt Lake City's Women's Exponent, Emily Gerard was described as "a clever writer and the author of several entertaining novels [who] must be rather cosmopolitan in her tastes."[9] In A.S. Levetus' 1905 piece for Womanhood entitled "What Women are Doing in Austria," she writes, "[Emily Gerard] possesses a fertile imagination and a lively and convincing way of conveying her thoughts to others, a rich gift of language, enhanced by her acquaintances with foreign tongues, all of which she speaks and writes with the same fluency as her native tongue."[10]

However, it was felt that other members of Emily's family appealed more to the public as writers of novels. In 1905 obituaries for Emily published in both The Times and The Atheneum, her sister's Dorothea's wider appeal was remarked upon. The Times observed that Emily "had not won equal popularity with that of her sister,"[11] while The Atheneum decided she was in her own right, " a capable novelist, with an excellent gift for telling a story."[12][1]

Works[edit]

(these first three novels are all under the name "E.D. Gerard" - a collaborative pen name of Emily and her sister Dorothea Gerard)

Aside from the collaborations, she was most commonly identified as "E. Gerard" on the title pages of these works.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Gerard [married name de Laszowska], (Jane) Emily (1849–1905), novelist | Oxford Dictionary of National Biography". www.oxforddnb.com. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/9780198614128.001.0001/odnb-9780198614128-e-33375. Retrieved 21 February 2019.
  2. ^ Parish: New Monkland; ED: 8; Page: 4; Line: 9; Roll: CSSCT1861_117. Ancestry.com. 1861 Scotland Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2006. Scotland. 1861 Scotland Census. Reels 1-150. General Register Office for Scotland, Edinburgh, Scotland.
  3. ^ Salzburger Chronik, Nov. 8th, 1869, p. 4.
  4. ^ Gmerek 2005
  5. ^ https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-46032480
  6. ^ Gerard, E. The Land Beyond the Forest: Facts, Figures, and Fancies from Transylvania. Harper & Brothers, 1888. pg. 185-86.
  7. ^ a b McKeithan, D. M. “MADAME LASZOWSKA MEETS MARK TWAIN.” Texas Studies in Literature and Language, vol. 1, no. 1, 1959, pp. 62–65. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/40753531.
  8. ^ Eccles 1899
  9. ^ "Mme. E. Gerard, a Clever Writer and the Author of Several Entertaining Novels, Must Be Rather Cosmopolitan in Her Tastes." Woman's Exponent, vol. 17, no. 8, 1888, p. 59. Nineteenth Century Collections Online, http://tinyurl.galegroup.com/tinyurl/9CLBM9. Accessed 20 February 2019.
  10. ^ Levetus, A. S. "What Women Are Doing in Austria." Womanhood, vol. XIII, no. 75, 1905, p. 154+. Nineteenth Century Collections Online, http://tinyurl.galegroup.com/tinyurl/9CJnq2. Accessed 20 February 2019.
  11. ^ "Obituary Miss Emily Gerard". The Times. 13 January 1905.
  12. ^ "Obituary Emily Gerard". The Athenaeum. 21 January 1905.
  13. ^ Reata; or What's in a Name Vol.1 (1880) William Blackwood and Sons, Edinburgh and London
  14. ^ Reata; or What's in a Name Vol.2 (1880) William Blackwood and Sons, Edinburgh and London
  15. ^ Reata; or What's in a Name Vol.3 (1880) William Blackwood and Sons, Edinburgh and London
  16. ^ Beggar My Neighbor Vol.1 (1882) Blackwood
  17. ^ Beggar My Neighbor Vol.2 (1882) Blackwood
  18. ^ Beggar My Neighbor Vol.3 (1882) Blackwood
  19. ^ The Waters of Hercules (1885) Blackwood
  20. ^ The Nineteenth Century Vol. 18 (1885) Kegan, Paul, Trench & Company, London
  21. ^ The Land Beyond the Forest: Facts, Figures, and Fancies from Transylvania (1888) Blackwood, U.K.
  22. ^ A Secret Mission (1891) Harper & Brothers, New York
  23. ^ The Voice of a Flower (1893) D. Appleton and Co., New York
  24. ^ The Extermination of Love: A Fragmentary Study in Erotics Vol.1 (1901) Berhard Tauchnitz, Leipzig
  25. ^ The Extermination of Love: A Fragmentary Study in Erotics Vol.2 (1901) Berhard Tauchnitz, Leipzig
  26. ^ The Heron's Tower (1904) Methuen & Co., London

Sources[edit]

External links[edit]