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,
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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