Mary Diana Dods

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Mary Diana Dods (1790–1830), also known under her pseudonyms as David Lyndsay and Walter Sholto Douglas, was a Scottish writer of books, short stories and other works. Most of her works appeared under the pseudonym David Lyndsay.[1][2]


Some dramas of hers were published in Blackwood's Magazine,[3] as were several of her stories, described as "very much in the vein of Byron's Oriental tales".[4] Dods's Dramas of the Ancient World was written at Blackwood's invitation and appeared in 1822 as by David Lyndsay.[5]

These were published pseudonymously for reasons explained to her father in a letter of 26 June 1822: "I sometimes, about once a quarter, write a criticism for the Reviewers upon some popular work, any that happen to be the fashion, for which, I am esteem'd one of the cleverest and keenest of that race of Vipers. I am paid tolerably well, ten Guineas per sheet, but this not under my own name. I dare not acknowledge the Fact lest the angry Authors whose works I am compelled to maul in the course of my vocation should return the compliment and maul me in return."[5]


She lived under the male identity of the diplomat and scholar Walter Sholto Douglas, ostensibly the spouse of Isabella Robinson Douglas, and was a friend of Mary Shelley.[6] Correspondence between Dods and Jane Williams in the mid-1820s suggests that they too had a close relationship.[7] In 1827 Shelley helped the two obtain false passports, enabling them to travel to Paris under the identities of Mr and Mrs Douglas.[8]:260 Mr Douglas ended up in a debtor's prison[3] and is thought to have died of his ailments between November 1829 and November 1830.[5]

Towards the end of the 20th century, the lack of biographical information for Lyndsay and Douglas was noticed by American scholar Betty T. Bennett, who explored this and published her findings in a book on Dods in 1991.[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Sage, Lorna (1999). The Cambridge Guide to Women's Writing in English. Cambridge University Press. p. 196. ISBN 0521668131. 
  2. ^ Van Kooy, Dana (2015). "Lilla Maria Crisafulli and Keir Elam (eds.), Women's Romantic Theatre and Drama: History, Agency, and Performativity (Farnham, Surrey: Ashgate, 2010)"Paid subscription required. Romanticism. Edinburgh University Press. 21 (1): 110. doi:10.3366/rom.2015.0220. 
  3. ^ a b Rose, Phyllis (24 March 1991). "Clothes make the man". The Washington Post. Retrieved 7 January 2017. 
  4. ^ Bennett, Note 83, p. 229.
  5. ^ a b c Geraldine Friedman: "Pseudonymity, Passing, and Queer Biography: The Case of Mary Diana Dods", Érudit, No. 23 (August 2001) Retrieved 8 January 2017.
  6. ^ Redford, Catherine (2013). "'The till now unseen object of my mad idolatry': The Presence of Jane Williams in Mary Shelley's The Last Man"Paid subscription required. Romanticism. Edinburgh University Press. 19 (1): 92. doi:10.3366/rom.2013.0115. 
  7. ^ Charlotte Gordon: Romantic Outlaws (New York/London: 2015), notes 28–30 to Chapter 35. Retrieved 7 January 2017.
  8. ^ Vicinus, Martha (1992). "Reviewed Work: Mary Diana Dods: A Gentleman and a Scholar by Betty T. Bennett". Keats-Shelley Journal. 41: 260–262. JSTOR 30210452. 
  9. ^ Kirsch, Jonathan (7 August 1991). "BOOK REVIEW : Literary Sleuth Solves 19th-Century Mystery : MARY DIANA DODS, A Gentleman and a Scholar, by Betty T. Bennett , Morrow $22.95, 303 pp". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 7 January 2017.