Mary Elizabeth Braddon
Life and works
Born in London, Mary Elizabeth Braddon was privately educated. Her mother Fanny separated from her father Henry in 1840, when Mary was five. When Mary was ten years old, her brother Edward Braddon left for India and later Australia, where he became Premier of Tasmania. Mary worked as an actress for three years in order to support herself and her mother.
In 1860, Mary met John Maxwell (1824–1895), a publisher of periodicals. She started living with him in 1861. However, Maxwell was already married with five children, and his wife was living in an asylum in Ireland. Mary acted as stepmother to his children until 1874, when Maxwell's wife died and they were able to get married. She had six children by him, including the novelist William Babington Maxwell.
Braddon was a prolific writer, producing more than 80 novels with inventive plots. The most famous is Lady Audley's Secret (1862), which won her recognition, and a fortune as a bestseller. It has remained in print since its publication and been dramatised and filmed several times. R. D. Blackmore's anonymous sensation novel Clara Vaughan (1864) was wrongly attributed to her by some critics.
Braddon wrote several works of supernatural fiction, including the pact with the devil story Gerald, or the World, the Flesh and the Devil (1891), and the ghost stories "The Cold Embrace", "Eveline's Visitant" and "At Chrighton Abbey". From the 1930s onwards, these stories were often anthologised in collections such as Montague Summers's The Supernatural Omnibus (1931) and Fifty Years of Ghost Stories (1935). Braddon's legacy is tied to the sensation fiction of the 1860s.
Braddon also founded Belgravia magazine (1866), which presented readers with serialised sensation novels, poems, travel narratives and biographies, as well as essays on fashion, history and science. The magazine was accompanied by lavish illustrations and offered readers a source of literature at an affordable cost. She also edited Temple Bar magazine.
She died on 4 February 1915 in Richmond, then in Surrey and now in London, and is interred in Richmond Cemetery. Her home had been Lichfield House in the centre of then town, which was replaced by a block of flats in 1936, Lichfield Court, now listed. She has a plaque in Richmond parish church which calls her simply 'Miss Braddon'. A number of streets in the area are named after characters in her novels – her husband was a property developer in the area.
- The Trail of the Serpent (1860)
- The Octoroon (1861)
- The Black Band (1861)
- Lady Audley's Secret (1862)
- John Marchmont's Legacy (1862–3)
- The Captain of the Vulture (1863)
- Aurora Floyd (1863)
- Eleanor's Victory (1863)
- Henry Dunbar: the Story of an Outcast (1864)
- The Doctor's Wife (1864)
- Only a Clod (1865)
- The Lady's Mile (1866)
- Birds of Prey (1867)
- Circe (1867)
- Rupert Godwin (1867)
- Dead-Sea Fruit (1868)
- Fenton's Quest (1871)
- To the Bitter End (1872)
- Robert Ainsleigh (1872)
- Publicans and Sinners (1873)
- Lost For Love (1874)
- Taken at the Flood (1874)
- A Strange World (1875)
- Hostages to Fortune (1875)
- Joseph Haggard (1876)
- Weavers and Weft, or, In Love's Nest (1876)
- Dead Men's Shoes (1876)
- An Open Verdict (1878)
- The Cloven Foot (1879)
- Vixen (1879)
- Asphodel (1881)
- Mount Royal (1882)
- Phantom Fortune (1883)
- The Golden Calf (1883)
- Ishmael. A Novel (1884)
- Wyllard's Weird (1885)
- Mohawks (1886)
- The Good Hermione: A Story for the Jubilee Year (1886, as 'Aunt Belinda')
- Cut by the County (1887)
- The Fatal Three (1888)
- One Life, One Love (1890)
- The World, the Flesh and the Devil (1891)
- The Venetians (1892)
- The Christmas Hirelings (1894)
- Thou Art The Man (1894)
- Sons of Fire (1895)
- London Pride (1896)
- Rough Justice (1898)
- His Darling Sin (1899)
- The Infidel (1900)
- The White House (1906)
- Dead Love Has Chains (1907)
- During Her Majesty's Pleasure (1908)
- Ralph the Bailiff and Other Tales (1862)
- Griselda (1873)
Several of Braddon's works have been dramatised, including:
- Aurora Floyd, by Colin Henry Hazlewood, first performed at Britannia Theatre Saloon, London, 1863.
- "The Cold Embrace", starring Jonathan Firth, BBC Radio 4, 2009.
- Lady Audley's Secret, by Colin Henry Hazlewood, first performed at the Victoria Theatre, London, 1863.
- Lady Audley's Secret, starring Theda Bara, Fox Film Corp., 1915.
- Lady Audley's Secret, starring Neve McIntosh, Kenneth Cranham, and Steven Mackintosh, PBS Mystery! 2000.
- "Braddon, Mary Elizabeth (Maxwell)". Who's Who, 59: pp. 201–202. 1907.
- Victor E. Neuburg, The Popular Press Companion to Popular Literature, Popular Press, 1983. ISBN 0879722339, (p. 36-7)
- Mike Ashley "BRADDON, M(ary) E(lizabeth)" In St. James Guide to Horror, Ghost, & Gothic Writers, Ed. David Pringle. Detroit: St. James Press/Gale, 1998. ISBN 1558622063 (p. 80-83).
- Bleiler, E. F. (1983). The Guide to Supernatural Fiction. Kent, Ohio: Kent State UP. ISBN 0873382889 (p. 77–78)
- Mike Ashley and William Contento, The Supernatural Index: A Listing of Fantasy, Supernatural, Occult, Weird, and Horror Anthologies. Greenwood Publishing Group, 1995. ISBN 0313240302 (p.134).
- Feminist & Women's Studies Association (UK & Ireland). Retrieved 7 August 2014.
- G. C. Boase, Megan A. Stephan, "Hazlewood, Colin Henry (1823–1875)", rev. Megan A. Stephan, (quoting The Britannia diaries, 1863–1875: selections from the diaries of Frederick C. Wilton, ed. J. Davis (1992)) Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, (accessed 3 December 2011)
- Beller, Anne-Marie (2012). Mary Elizabeth Braddon: A Companion to the Mystery Fiction. Jefferson, NC: McFarland.
- Bleiler, Everett (1948). The Checklist of Fantastic Literature. Chicago: Shasta Publishers. p. 58.
- Diamond, Michael. Victorian Sensation. London: Anthem (2003) ISBN 1-84331-150-X, pp. 191–192
|Wikisource has the text of a 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica article about Mary Elizabeth Braddon.|
- Works by Mary Elizabeth Braddon at Project Gutenberg
- Works by or about Mary Elizabeth Braddon at Internet Archive
- Works by Mary Elizabeth Braddon at LibriVox (public domain audiobooks)
- Works at the Victorian Women Writers Project