Rosina Bulwer Lytton

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Rosina Bulwer Lytton
Rosina Anne Doyle Bulwer Lytton (née Wheeler), Lady Lytton (cropped).jpg
Rosina Doyle Wheeler

4 November 1802
Died12 March 1882(1882-03-12) (aged 79)
Edward Bulwer-Lytton
(m. 1827; died 1873)
Children2, including Robert
Parent(s)Francis Massey Wheeler
Anna Wheeler

Rosina Bulwer Lytton (née Rosina Doyle Wheeler; 4 November 1802 – 12 March 1882) was an Anglo-Irish writer who published fourteen novels, a volume of essays and a volume of letters.

In 1827 she married Edward Bulwer-Lytton, a novelist and politician. Bulwer-Lytton was made a baronet in the 1830s and was raised to the peerage in 1866; although they had separated, she used the title Lady Lytton. She spelled her married surname without the hyphen used by her husband.

Early life[edit]

Rosina Doyle Wheeler's mother was the advocate of women's rights Anna Wheeler, the daughter of the Rev. Nicholas Milley Doyle, a Church of Ireland clergyman, Rector of Newcastle, County Tipperary,[1][2] while her father was Francis Massey Wheeler, an Anglo-Irish landowner.[1] One of her mother's brothers, Sir John Milley Doyle (1781–1856), led British and Portuguese forces in the Peninsular War and the War of the Two Brothers.[3]

Rosina Doyle was educated in part by Frances Arabella Rowden, who was not only a poet, but, according to Mary Mitford, "had a knack of making poetesses of her pupils"[4] This ties Rosina to other of Rowden's pupils such as Caroline Ponsonby, later Lady Caroline Lamb; the poet Letitia Elizabeth Landon ("L.E.L."); Emma Roberts, the travel writer; and Anna Maria Fielding, who published as S.C. Hall.[5]


Rosina Doyle Wheeler married Edward Bulwer-Lytton (at that time surnamed simply Bulwer) on 29 August 1827. This was against the wishes of his mother, who withdrew his allowance, so that he was forced to work for a living.[6]

His writing and efforts in the political arena took a toll upon their marriage, and the couple legally separated in 1836. Her children were taken from her.[7] In 1839, her novel, Cheveley, or the Man of Honour, in which Edward Bulwer-Lytton was bitterly caricatured, was published.

In June 1858 her husband was standing in a by-election as a parliamentary candidate for Hertfordshire (prior to his elevation to the peerage). She appeared at the hustings and indignantly denounced him. She was consequently placed under restraint as insane, and was detained in an establishment in Brentford, but liberated a few weeks later following a public outcry. This was chronicled in her book A Blighted Life, published in 1880. Although the book appeared after her husband's death, it caused a rift with her son and she tried to disassociate herself from it.[8][9]


Rosina died in Upper Sydenham. While her husband was buried in Westminster Abbey, she was buried in an unmarked grave.[10]


They had two children:


  • Cheveley: or, The Man of Honour (in two volumes, 1839)
  • The Budget of the Bubble Family (1840)
  • The Prince-Duke and the Page: An Historical Novel (1843)
  • Bianca Cappello: An Historical Romance (1843)
  • Memoirs of a Muscovite (1844)
  • The Peer's Daughters: A Novel (1849)
  • Miriam Sedley, or the Tares and the Wheat: A Tale of Real Life (1850)
  • The School for Husbands: or Moliére's Life and Times (1852)
  • Behind the Scenes, A Novel (1854)
  • The World and His Wife, or a Person of Consequence, a Photographic Novel (1858)
  • Very Successful (1859)
  • The Household Fairy (1870)
  • Where there's a Will there's a Way (1871)
  • Chumber Chase (1871)
  • Mauleverer's Divorce (1871)
  • Shells from the Sands of Time (1876)
  • A Blighted Life (1880)
  • Refutation of an Audacious Forgery of the Dowager Lady's name to a book of the Publication of which she was totally Ignorant (1880)


  1. ^ a b Literary Encyclopaedia - Rosina Bulwer-Lytton (1802-1882) by Marie Mulvey-Roberts, University of the West of England
  2. ^ Edward Cave, John Nichols, eds., The Gentleman's Magazine, and Historical Chronicle (1834), p. 276
  3. ^ Henry Morse Stephens, Doyle, John Milley from Dictionary of National Biography at Wikisource
  4. ^ eds, Lilla Maria Crisafulli & Cecilia Pietropoli (2008). "appendix". The languages of performance in British romanticism (Oxford ; Bern ; Berlin ; Frankfurt am Main ; Wien$nLang. ed.). New York: P. Lang. p. 301. ISBN 978-3039110971.
  5. ^ "Rowden [married name de St Quentin], Frances Arabella (1774–1840?), schoolmistress and poet | Oxford Dictionary of National Biography". 2004. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/59581. Missing or empty |url= (help)
  6. ^ World Wide Words - Unputdownable
  7. ^ "Life of Rosina, Lady Lytton"
  8. ^ Lady Lytton (1880). A Blighted Life. London: The London Publishing Office. Retrieved 28 November 2009. Online text at
  9. ^ Devey, Louisa (1887). Life of Rosina, Lady Lytton, with Numerous Extracts from her Ms. Autobiography and Other Original Documents, published in vindication of her memory. London: Swan Sonnenschein, Lowrey & Co. Retrieved 28 November 2009. Full text at Internet Archive (
  10. ^ Mulvey-Roberts, Marie (2009). "Lytton, Rosina Anne Doyle Bulwer [née Rosina Anne Doyle Wheeler], Lady Lytton (1802–1882), novelist". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Subscription or UK public library membership required
  11. ^ "Tragic story of Victorian novelist's distraught daughter". 2017.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]