Florence Marryat

Greta Depledge

in Victorian Literature

ISBN: 9780199799558
Published online May 2012 | | DOI:
Florence Marryat

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Florence Marryat (b. 1833–d. 1899) was born in Brighton on 9 July 1833. Some accounts of Marryat’s life put her birth date as later than this; however, archival research by Catherine Pope and Andrew Maunder confirm the earlier date. Marryat was responsible for the confusion over her date of birth, as she regularly fudged the truth about her age, most notably at the time of her second marriage. She was one of eleven children born to the novelist Captain Frederick Marryat and his wife. Marryat’s parents separated when she was quite young and, as a result, she had a somewhat nomadic childhood with no formal education. On 13 June 1854 she married Thomas Ross Church at Penang, Malaya, and settled there with him. However, in 1860 she returned to England because of poor health. The children of the marriage came to England with Florence but Ross Church remained in India. Ross Church clearly returned to England to visit his wife and children periodically, as four more children were born. Marryat’s first novel, Love’s Conflict, appeared in 1865. Marryat wrote this while nursing her children through scarlet fever. The novel was published by Bentley and Son—her father’s publishers—and this saw the beginning of a prolific career. Marryat published around ninety novels. In 1872 she also produced Life and Letters of Captain Marryat as a memorial to the life and work of her father. Marryat wrote countless short stories and plays, edited the London Society journal (between 1872 and 1876), acted with the D’Oyle Carte opera company, and adapted some of her own work for the stage. She also became well known in spiritualist circles. Marryat and Ross Church divorced in 1878, and the following year she married Colonel Francis Lean. Although she had been living with Lean for some time, the marriage was short lived. In the 1890s she joined the recently formed Society for Authors and established her own School of Literary Art, the prospectus of which can be found in the British Library Manuscript Collections. In the late 1890s her health started to fail, and she died as a result of pneumonia and diabetes complications on 27 October 1899. She did, however, remain active until the end of her life, publishing two novels in 1899. Her companion during her final years was former theater collaborator Herbert McPherson. She was buried at Kensal Green Cemetery.

Article.  5804 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (19th Century)

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