Charlotte Riddell

Charlotte Riddell

British writer, one of the most popular figures in the world of literature of the Victorian era.
Date of Birth: 30.09.1832
Country: Great Britain

Charlotte Riddell: A Biography

Charlotte Riddell was a British writer and one of the most popular figures in the literary world during the Victorian era. While Balzac popularized commercial themes in literature, other authors, including Riddell, further developed this theme. Riddell, the author of several works that have become classics of Victorian literature, was born as Charlotte Eliza Lawson Cowan in Carrickfergus, County Antrim, Ireland. She was the youngest daughter of James Cowan, the sheriff of County Antrim, and Ellen Kilshow, an Englishwoman.

Charlotte Riddell

In 1851, Charlotte's father passed away, and four years later, she and her mother moved to London. However, Charlotte's mother also died a year later. In 1857, Charlotte married Joseph Hadley Riddell, an engineer and builder from Staffordshire who resided in London. They initially lived in the St John's Lodge area between Harringay and West Green, but as the area became heavily developed, the Riddells chose to move. They changed their place of residence in 1873.

Charlotte Riddell

Charlotte published her first novella, "The Moors and the Fens," in 1858 under the pseudonym F. G. Trafford. It wasn't until 1864 that she began to use her real name. Riddell's productivity was remarkable, as she published novels and stories at an impressive rate. Between 1858 and 1902, she released a total of 30 books. Her most famous work was the novella "George Geith of Fen Court," for which she received a payment of 800 pounds. In 1883, the book was adapted into a play by Wybert Reeve, which was performed in Scarborough and later in Australia.

In 1867, Riddell became a co-owner and editor of the St. James Magazine, originally launched in 1851 by S. C. Hall. Later, she became the editor of the magazine "Home." Additionally, Riddell wrote stories for the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge and annual publications like "Routledge's Christmas." However, her novellas outshined her stories in terms of success.

Riddell was known for her ghost stories, with at least five of her novellas featuring supernatural phenomena to varying degrees. She also wrote stories about hauntings, some of which were later included in a separate collection. Many readers noted Riddell's impressive ability to describe settings, often relying on her own experiences, particularly her deep knowledge of London.

Joseph Riddell, Charlotte's husband, passed away in 1880. Although they faced certain difficulties in their marriage, their overall relationship was harmonious, and Joseph's death was a significant blow to the writer. The couple did not have any children. From 1886 onward, Riddell resided in Upper Halliford, Middlesex, living a secluded life with minimal social interaction.

Charlotte Riddell became the first pensioner of the Society of Authors. From May 1901, she received an annual pension of 60 pounds. She passed away in Ashford, Kent, England, due to cancer.