Eliza Parsons

Eliza Parsons

Eliza Parsons, née Phelp, (1739–5 February 1811) was an English gothic novelist.


She was born in Plymouth in 1739 to a comfortable middle class family and moved to London when her husband's turpentine business was affected by the American War of Independence. The family's fortunes were further debilitated by a warehouse fire and when he died in 1790, Eliza was left alone with eight children. She turned to novel writing to support her large family and produced 19 two volume novels, many of which were in the romantic or gothic vein so popular at the time.

Despite her literary earnings, Eliza remained short of money. Between 1793 and 1803 she received 45 guineas from the Royal Literary Fund and also worked at the Royal Wardrobe. She was imprisoned for debts she had accrued at one point, but the fund's aid saw her released in 1803. She died on the 5 February 1811 in Leytonstone in Essex, leaving behind four married daughters.


Her work is generally agreed to be of varying quality, produced as it was out of financial neccesity to meet popular tastes but her two most enduring works are "The Castle of Wolfenbach", aGerman story in 1793 and "The Mysterious Warning, a German Tale" in 1796. Both these books are included in the list of seven "horrid novels" recommended as required reading by the character Isabella Thorpe in Jane Austen’s novel "Northanger Abbey". Other books written by Mrs Parsons include "The History of Miss Meredith" (1790), "The Valley of St. Gothard" (1799), "Women as They Are" (1797), and "Anecdotes of Well-Known Families" (1798).



External links

* [http://www2.shu.ac.uk/corvey/cw3/AuthorPage.cfm?Author=EP2 List of titles]

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