Charlotte Riddell (1832 – 1906) – A Chronology

Compiled by Michael Flowers ©2005-2006

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1832    30 September – birth of Charlotte Elizabeth Lawson Cowan at the Barn, Carrickfergus, County Antrim,

            Northern Ireland.

1847    Writes her first novel, which was never published.

1851    Death of James Cowan, father.  Charlotte and mother move to live in Dundonald, County Down.

1855    January, Charlotte & mother move to London.

1856    Publication of first novel Zuriel’s Grandchild under the pseudonym  R.V. M. Sparling.

            16 December*, death of mother – Ellen Cowan, neé Kilshaw.

1857      24 Sep - marriage to Joseph Hadley Riddell at St Paul’s, Covent Garden* Lives at Scott’s Court,

            Cannon Street. Publication of The Ruling Passion. under the pseudonym Rainey Hawthorne and

            The Moors  and the Fens as by  F.G. Trafford.

1858    Publication of The Rich Husband as by The Author of The Ruling Passion.

1860    Publication of Too Much Alone as by F.G. Trafford, which Riddell  considered made her name.

1861    Publication of City and Suburb as by F.G. Trafford.

1863    Publication of The World in the Church as by F.G. Trafford. Second edition also published in 3

            volumes. Autumn – Riddell calls at 18 Catherine Street to meet the Tinsley Brothers and receive

             a  contract for £800 and £50 on account.

1864    Publication of George Geith of Fen Court as by F.G. Trafford. New one volume edition of The

            Moors and the Fens published by Smith, Elder.



 Title page of Volume III of the First Edition of  George Geith
Courtesy of Jennifer Carnell of The Sensation Press.

1865    Publication of Maxwell Drewitt as by F.G. Trafford.  New one volume edition of  The World in

            the Church published by Tinsley Brothers.

1866    Publication of Phemie Keller by F.G. Trafford & The Race for Wealth as by Mrs. J.H. Riddell

            First one volume publication of City and Suburb by Tinsley Brothers.

1867    Publication of Far Above Rubies.  December - first known supernatural tales published ‘Hertford

            O’Donnell’s Warning’ & ‘A Strange Christmas Game.’ New one volume edition of Phemie

            Keller published by Tinsley Brothers.

1868    April – begins editorship of St James’s Magazine.  Riddells were living at St. John’s Lodge,

             Tottenham. New one volume edition of Far Above Rubies published by Tinsley Brothers, and

            new edition of George Geith published by Frederick Warne & Co.  

1869    Publication of My First Love as St. James's Christmas Box. New one volume editions of Too

            Much Alone and Maxwell Drewitt published by F. Enos Arnold.


Title page for the 1869 reprint of Too Much Alone.

 Note - Riddell's name or pseudonymn did not appear

on either the title page or spine of this edition!
Courtesy of Aileen Urquhart. 


Cover of 1869 reprint of Too Much Alone.

Note no author's name on spine of book.

Photo © 2005 Richard Cook


1870    Publication of Austin Friars (Feb) and Long Ago. New one volume edition of Phemie Keller

            published by F. Enos Arnold.

1871    Publication of A Life’s Assize.  September – Joseph  Riddell petitions the bankruptcy court for


1872    Publication of How to Spend a Month in Ireland by Sir Cusack P. Roney, revised by

            Mrs J.H. Riddell.

1873    Publication of The Earl’s Promise, Home, Sweet Home, Fairy Water & Joy After Sorrow
[rewritten version of Zuriel’s Grandchild]. The Riddells leave Tottenham for Leyton.11 August - 

             visited by Harry Furniss still editor of St. James’s Magazine at this time. Second one volume

            edition of Home, Sweet Home  also published.

1874    Publication of Mortomley’s Estate and Frank Sinclair’s Wife & Other Stories.

1875    Riddells move to Raglan House, Addlestone, Weybridge, Surrey. Publication of

            The Uninhabited House. 

1876    Publication of  Above Suspicion. New one volume edition of  The Moors and the Fens published

            by Smith, Elder.

1877    Publication of Her Mother’s Darling and The Haunted River.  Four-act play version of  

            George Geit premieres at Scarborough, Theatre Royal on 6 August.

1878    Publication of The Disappearance of Mr. Jeremiah Redworth.

1879    About this time the Riddells move to 75 South Lambeth Road.

1880    Publication of The Mystery in Palace Gardens  (10 November). !st edition of 750 copies.

1881    Death of Joseph Riddell, husband 20 March. Publication of Alaric Spenceley and

            The Senior Partner (5 December).

1882    Publication of Daisies and Buttercups, The Prince of Wales’s Garden Party & Other

            Stories and Weird Stories. Also, publication of The Curate of Lowood; or Every Man

            has His Golden Chance as part of the Golden Acorn Series (proverb stories for children).

1883    Publication of A Struggle for Fame (20 July).  30 October – play version of George

            Geith revived at the Crystal Palace.  George Geith or Romance of a City Life

            (play version) by Herbert Reeve published by Bentley. Arthur Norway lodges with Riddell. 

            Riddell now being published by Bentley, and receiving £400 per  novel. 

1884    Publication of Susan Drummond (16 January) and Berna Boyle (June).  Riddell visits

            Germany  with A.H. Norway. New edition of Weird Stories (Chatto & Windus).

1885    Second edition of Susan Drummond (5 March). Second edition of Berna Boyle (May).

            Publication of Mitre Court (6 November).  Riddell and Arthur Norway  move to

            The  Cottage, Upper Halliford, Shepperton. Another new edition of Weird Stories.

            Chatto & Windus republish in one Volume: The Uninhabited House and The Haunted River.

1886    Publication of For Dick’s Sake. Fifth edition of George Geith (7 April).

1887    Publication of Miss Gascoigne and the Nun's Curse.  Also an anonymous collaboration

            with A.H. Norway published  - The Government Official (25 July). Ward & Downey

            reprints  Miss Gascoigne & The Nun's Curse as 2 shilling novels.

1888    Publication of Idle Tales.

1889    Publication of Princess Sunshine & Other Stories.  October – Riddell visits Ireland

            for the  last  time – her first visit to Ireland in 25 years. Sampson Low reprints

            The Senior Partner and Daises and Buttercups.

1890    Publication of My First Love. 18 February - interview with Raymond Blathwayt in

            The Pall Mall Gazette. Riddell also interview by Helen Black for Notable Women

            Authors of the Day. At this time she was writing Gray’s Point for Ward & Downey,

            but when Ward thought £400 was too much for the story, Riddell reclaimed the manuscript,

             and it was never published. Riddell was asked to contribute to an Irish paper for the first

            time – The Lady of the House. Publication of My First Love.

1891    Publication of A Mad Tour, or A Journey Undertaken in an Insane Moment through

            Central Europe on Foot.  My First Love and My Last Love republished by Hutchinson & Co.

1892    Publication of The Head of the Firm (June).  About this time Riddell became aware she was
            suffering from cancer. Winter – leaves Halliford for St. Mark’s Road, Notting Hill.Publication of

            Helen Black’s Notable Women Authors of the Day – one of the few contemporary biographical

            pieces on Riddell. 

1893    The Rusty Sword, or Thereby Hangs a Tale and A Silent Tragedy published. New 'Poplar Edition'

            of The Head of the Firm (29 May).


Cover for the first edition of
The Rusty Sword Picture courtesy of
Jennifer Carnell of The Sensation Press.

            February – moved to the Elms, Harlington. October – financial difficulties.

1894    Publication of The Banshee’s Warning & Other Tales. George Geith Reprinted by Bentley


1895    Moved to the Cedars, Harlington.

1897    Publication of Did He Deserve It? and A Rich Man’s Daughter.

1898    A Rich Man's Daughter reprinted by Chatto & Windus in a 3s 6d edition.

1899    Publication of Handsome Phil & Other Stories. Heinemann reprints The Head of the Firm

             in a 1s 6d edition.

1900    Publication of The Footfall of Fate. Macmillan reprints 2 shilling edtions of  George Geith

            (April), Berna Boyle (April), Susan Drummond (May).

1901    May – first recipient of a pension from the Society of Authors - £60 p.a.

1903    John Maqueen reprints The Banshee's Warning & Other Tales.

1902    Publication of Poor Fellow!  Riddell’s last work of fiction.  Riddell living at Elmdale,

            Witham Road, Spring Grove, Isleworth.

1905    Routledge reprints The Banshee's Warning & Other Tales.

1906       24 September, death of Charlotte Riddell at 12 Lampton Road, Hounslow*. Buried in

            Heston Churchyard, Middlesex.


The text on Riddell's gravestone.

Photo courtesy of Ralph Lake (c) 2006

*Information from Charlotte Mitchell’s entry on Riddell in the new Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.


Helen C. Black, Notable Women Authors of the Day, Glasgow: D. Bryce, 1893.

R. Blathwayt, “Interview with Mrs. J.H. Riddell”, Pall Mall Gazette, 18 February 1890.

E.F. Bleiler, ‘Mrs. Riddell, Mid-Victorian Ghosts, and Christmas Annuals’ in

The Collected Ghost Stories of Mrs J.H. Riddell, New York: Dover Publications Inc, 1977.

S.M. Ellis, Wilkie Collins, Le Fanu & Others  (London: Constable, 1934).


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