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“The most accomplished liar in literature”? Uncovering Marie Corelli’s hidden early life

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posted on 2023-07-11, 15:01 authored by Jo TurnerJo Turner
This article presents newly uncovered archival materials which necessitate a rewriting of the early life of Marie Corelli. The many biographies on her are focussed on rumours surrounding Corelli being illegitimate, her eccentricities, and the exposure of lies she told about her age. The most recent biographies, the latest of which was published in 1999, reformulated what had already been written about her and additionally employed analogue genealogical research methods to investigate Corelli’s parentage. They created an account of Corelli’s life which has been subsumed into twenty-first century scholarship. However, the digitisation of genealogical records, as well as of nineteenth and twentieth-century newspapers, has enabled research which renders the twentieth-century biographers’ findings inaccurate and incomplete. This article uncovers Corelli’s working-class origins; it reveals that she spent a lengthy period in America; it finds the likely location of the convent school she attended; and details that she had a fuller performing career than previously understood. It finds truth in the stories that Corelli told about herself, forcing a re-evaluation of her character and her motivation for the concealment of her early life, paving the way for future study.

History

School

  • Social Sciences and Humanities

Department

  • English

Published in

Victorian Popular Fictions Journal

Volume

5

Issue

1

Pages

21 - 36

Publisher

Victorian Popular Fiction Association

Version

  • VoR (Version of Record)

Rights holder

© Joanna Turner

Publisher statement

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Acceptance date

2023-06-27

Publication date

2023-07-05

Copyright date

2023

eISSN

2632-4253

Language

  • en

Depositor

Jo Turner. Deposit date: 6 July 2023

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