Victorian Fiction Research Guides

Victoria Cross


The House of Commons debated the question of Salaries (Sex Equality) during the Adjournment Debate of 7 June 1935. Speakers commented on the deplorable example set by the government, in paying women schoolteachers and civil servants lower wages than men doing the same job. The Labour MP George Lansbury (1859-1940) sounded a note of warning:

I have had sent to me this week a book written by someone whose name I forget. I think it is called ‘Martha, M.P.’ I commend it to everyone here, for it is an extraordinary book. It is written as if at a time some years ahead, and if you read what men have become, the spoiled darlings of the women, and the masculine position of the men, you have something to look forward to, those of you who are young men. It shows what is stirring in the minds of women. They propose to reverse the roles. When I heard the hon. and gallant Member for Hexham (Colonel Brown) speak of a man sitting at home to mind the babies, I recalled that that is exactly what women are proposing. As there are more women than men, and as women grow more intelligent, it is possible that they will give the future generation of men some of the kind of medicine that my generation of men has given the women.1

Who was this novelist whose futuristic analysis of gender roles had so stirred the mind of the veteran suffragist? Her pseudonym was Victoria Cross (though she used various other names in ordinary life), she was 67, and this was her twenty-fifth, and by no means the strangest or the most daring of her extraordinary novels. A best seller in her time, she rarely received anything but scathing reviews in respectable literary journals, but her wanton disregard for literary propriety often took her into unexplored territory. She began to write in the mid-1890s, and from her earliest work her selling-point was sex, and the taboos which surround it. Her most notorious work, the best-selling Anna Lombard (1901), is set in contemporary India and deals explicitly with a sexual relationship between an upper-class English girl and her Indian lover; the heroine is treated sympathetically, even when she resorts to infanticide. Her elder sister published in the same year a book of erotic pseudo-Indian verse, The Garden of Kama, under the name ‘Laurence Hope’.2 It became known that ‘Laurence Hope’ and ‘Victoria Cross’ were sisters, but very little was known about either author. The former died young a few years later; the latter lived on for half a century, for most of that period publishing novels which continued to be widely read. Today, curiously enough, although neither writer is well-known, ‘Laurence Hope’ is the better documented of the two, probably because her poems have been classified as literature and her sister’s novels as semi-pornographic trash.

Such decisions are, it is generally agreed, often made on arbitrary and subjective grounds, but I do not propose to argue that Cross’s novels have a claim on our attention because of their outstanding literary merits. Even her most enthusiastic readers acknowledge that her work is characterized by lapses in taste and logic, vulgarity, implausibility and craziness. This remains true even though the modem reader is comparatively inured to the fictional treatment of taboo subjects. None of those who are likely to read Cross’s books in the twenty-first century is likely to be shocked by the open way she writes about women’s sexual feelings, or interracial sex. Her analysis of gender roles may still appear groundbreaking, but no longer alarming. A hundred years after she began writing, her books are still capable of maddening and outraging the reader, and this must be a measure of how radical a challenge she presented to the readers of her own time. What makes her books of interest today is the quality of that challenge. For their popularity confounds assumptions about what was acceptable to early twentieth-century consumers of fiction. This bibliography demonstrates their wide circulation in Europe and North America over many years. If we remember that she never ceased to tackle controversial subjects during a forty-year career in which she published a large number of novels with mainstream publishers and made large sums of money, it may at least, for instance, prevent our glibly attributing the reticence of other women writers on such subjects to the censorship of the publishing industry. ‘Victoria Cross’ belongs on the map of nineteenth- and twentieth-century fiction, and if her career is ignored, our understanding of the whole landscape will be distorted.

Among modern scholars only Shoshana Knapp has attempted a survey of the entire oeuvre of Victoria Cross, and only a handful of others have published criticism of any of her books. Those who have done so have mostly, I think, discovered her while trying to broaden their reading of women writers of her period, or survey the entire range of the novels of British India. I myself first came across her while helping to compile a biographical companion to Edwardian novels. I was drawn to her novels immediately by their striking eccentricity, particularly their apparent disregard for the mores of their time. It appeared that Victoria Cross warmly approved of extramarital and interracial sex. She seemed, at least on a superficial reading, amazingly emancipated from the assumptions of her own period. I immediately wanted to know more of her. Cross’s career is outlined below, and I do not wish to go into here the difficulties I then had (in 1992, before the publication of any of Knapp’s work) in piecing together her biography. For me then the interest of Cross’s work lay in the way it seemed to anticipate modem attitudes towards sex, or race, or imperialism, or animal rights, or women’s rights, or the arrogance of Western medicine. I have little doubt that the few critics who have written about her have been inspired by feelings like mine. As I read more, however, I became conscious that its appealing features coexist with and are inseparable from others which are less well adjusted to the taste of early twenty-first-century academic critics. To portray her as a heroine of feminism, or of racial tolerance, which was my first thought, seems to present more difficulties than can simply be resolved by pointing out that, naturally enough, she was influenced, for all her impatience with conformity, by the ideas of her time. What follows therefore is an attempt to evoke the themes and atmosphere of Cross’s novels without minimizing the discordances within them.

The main theme of Cross’s fiction was established in her first published work, ‘Theodora’ (1895), which describes the welling-up of sexual attraction between a man and a woman both of whom pride themselves on their indifference to conventional morality. ‘Theodora’ was a chapter from a novel already complete by 1894, and although it was not published until 1903, when it appeared, as her fifth novel, under the title Six Chapters of a Man’s Life, it seems appropriate to discuss it first. It is strongly redolent of the nineties, and perhaps by 1903 its hectic, hashish-scented atmosphere seemed a little old-fashioned. It is narrated throughout by the hero, Cecil Ray. He and Theodora are at once insiders and outsiders, but they disdain to take their part in English society and are ripe for adventures into the unknown, whether in the sphere of travel, spiritualism, literature, or morals. The book is full of materia] detail about clothes, furniture, decoration; it indicates an interest in the fashionable topic of the sex instinct, but rejects the explanation that desire exists for the propagation of the species, preferring, as it were, a doctrine of sex for sex’s sake. Cecil is self-consciously perverse, preferring the artificial to the natural. He feels a faint aversion to conventional femininity, which Theodora does not arouse; he likes her body’s unfitness for childbearing, her neuroticism and her moustache. Cross explores, with some subtlety, the attempt of these two young people to challenge the ideologies of gender and race in which they have been brought up. Cecil is an androgynous name, and it is implied that he has had homosexual experiences with oriental boys; Theodora who possesses a ‘hermaphroditism of looks’ (78) runs away with him dressed in man’s clothes. By endowing the heroine with a legacy from a man-hating aunt, which means she has £6000 a year if she does not marry, Cross makes her anomalous in relation to the power structure governing the theory of Victorian marriage. From the male point of view she is neither a financial prize nor an indigent girl requiring patronage and financial support. She herself has no financial incentive to marry. Sexual desire and romantic expectation are thus shown deliberately freed from familiar contexts. There is an attempt to imagine a new kind of love affair: they get drunk together; she excites him by flirting with other men; she proclaims her independence:

‘You have half a knack of speaking as if I were one of your Kashmiri women, bought at a few hundred rupees.’ (168)

This ability to create a situation which radically challenges the reader’s assumptions was to be one of Cross’s strengths throughout her career. But the denouement of the novel strikes the tragically sordid note so familiar in the highbrow fiction of the 1890s: Theodora ends by committing suicide, after she has been gang-raped and infected with disease by some non-white locals to whom she has sacrificed herself to save her lover’s life. Cross emphasizes how unexamined and artificial are concepts like honour, purity and shame which govern relationships between men and women, even those who, like her protagonists, are self-consciously modem and unconventional. Theodora dies deliriously muttering, “‘Men only care for a woman for what they can get out of her.’” The narrator observes that ‘when she came back to me disfigured and degraded—I loved unselfishly’ and he has been afforded ‘a dim realisation of the intense egoism of men’s love’ (267). By the end circumstances have reduced Theodora to the condition of female victim of male violence and desire. The experiment has failed, but Cecil is left to tell the world.

I discuss below the likelihood that John Lane was scared off from publishing Six Chapters in 1895 and persuaded Cross to substitute a less controversial book. Her first novel by publication date was therefore The Woman Who Didn’t (1895). Its title has misled several critics, as no doubt it misled some contemporaries, into believing that the novel was written as a riposte to Grant Allen’s The Woman Who Did, although it is in fact a very different sort of book. Given the timing, it is likely that it was at least partly written by the time his came out.3 It is far from being a roman a these like Allen’s, but is, rather, a study of hopeless and unconsummated love between a man and a married woman on a ship coming back from India. A closer parallel among bestselling novels of the period would be Beatrice Harraden’s 1893 Ships that Pass in the Night, the bittersweet account of how two misfits find love in an Alpine resort, only to lose it when she suddenly dies in an accident. The structure of Cross’s novel resembles Harraden’s more than Allen’s: the novel unfolds in dialogue rather than narrative and is really a series of encounters covering a short interlude in two lives, rather than accounting for characters from cradle to grave. It leaves its characters in an impasse; its unhappily married heroine declares that “‘marriage is the holiest of all sacraments and divorce is a sacrilege’” (71). In a later novel, Anna Lombard, Cross was to offer an interpretation of its meaning: “A man is made apparently for alternate virtue and vice … That theory has been threshed out in a novel called The Woman who Did Not” (6%).

However the book does not really support so portentous a reading: a wistful study of a woman trapped in a situation which has no real solution, it falls firmly into the class of marriage-problem novels so numerous at this period and offers no new approaches to the issue. But in this it was not typical of her work. Although so many of her novels address the question of personal fulfilment versus social obligation, they increasingly present sexual feeling as an irresistible force to which it is idle to oppose the will, even though, as in Six Chapters from A Man’s Life, sex doesn’t always bring happiness. In The Life Sentence (1912) Cross was to use the same time-honoured situation but have hero and heroine (both married) act more boldly (run away together) but still end up trapped and despairing.

Less titillating than Six Chapters, her next novel, Paula (1896), was also less moral than The Woman who Didn’t. The heroine is a clergyman’s daughter, a beautiful, highly educated chorus girl. Much emphasis is laid on her wide reading in Latin and Greek and on her innate genius as a dancer and dramatist. Will she succeed in her career, or will she be driven into prostitution by poverty and privation? She falls in love with a rich critic, but when a theatre producer agrees to put on her play if she will marry him, she decides that art is more important than life. Her husband proves tyrannical, however, and she leaves him, but returns when he threatens to kill her lover. After his death she goes to join the lover in Italy, but, finding him dying of anaemia, offers to give her blood for a transfusion. He lives; she dies. The plot is sufficiently implausible and melodramatic, but there is some life in the character of Paula, a woman whose brilliance transcends the limitations of her sex, the weakness of the man she loves and the bourgeois conventions which surround her. One may suspect that Paula is an idealized self-portrait. At any rate she was the first of several heroines who read Latin and Greek, despise the social conventions which surround them, and find that their artistic genius is circumscribed and inhibited by their sex.

Anna Lombard (1901) was, as I said earlier, her big success, causing a considerable stir; in New Zealand, for instance, she had to fight a court case on its behalf. As W. T. Stead observed, the originality of the plot lies in the reversal of the sex roles when the hero discovers his fiancee has been married to an Indian:

Ethridge, an almost ideal hero, plays the part which is so normal to women as never to call for remark, while Anna abandons herself to the force of a passion to which men succumb so often as seldom to call for comment or censure.4

Cross attacks the fallacy that women are not able to dissociate their sexual and emotional feelings and that men are. As Anna says to her English lover of her Indian husband: ‘“He is a beautiful toy to me. He is like some pet, some lovely Persian kitten.’” Cross is concerned to argue that celibacy is as difficult for women as for men. Anna Lombard succumbs to her passion for Gaida because Ethridge assumes that she will be better off single than sharing his own exile in Burma. He leaves her asleep in an enchanting rose garden, which symbolizes the pleasures of the flesh to which he is so naive as to suppose her impervious. This theme was to recur in Cross’s 1904 novel To-morrow?, whose hero refrains from even kissing his fiancee for fear of awakening her passions, even though he claims to be

… well aware that most women are uncommonly wideawake from their thirteenth year, and it is a very old-fashioned and quite exploded idea to suppose that the springs of their nature lie dormant until one particular individual unlocks them. (68)

Alas, she dies on her wedding-night, killed by ‘that last year of virgin purity of life that [it] had broken her strength to bear.’ This view of celibacy as dangerous to health turns up again, alongside the triangular situation of The Woman Who Didn’t, in The Life Sentence (1912), the story of a young woman trapped in a sexless marriage to an old man. Cross’s idiosyncratic ideas about medicine and physiology frequently lead her into absurdity, but there is no doubt that her consistent and at that time startling affirmation of female sexuality was one of the features which gave her fiction its potency and its wide readership.

In Anna Lombard the idea that a cultured and refined upper-class English girl might have a secret love affair because she is unable to control her desires is triply outrageous because the sexual adventure involves the transgression of racial and class boundaries. Anna loves Ethridge intellectually and spiritually; she loves Gaida physically. Significantly it is Gaida who makes her pregnant: childbearing is often associated by Cross with the lowest instincts, and the consequent babies are frequently shaken off by her heroines with an amazing insouciance, as for instance in Five Nights and Life’s Shop Window. Just as in Six Chapters of A Man’s Life she had used orientalist fantasies about the wanton sensuality of the East to stoke up the emotional temperature of the novel, so in Anna Lombard the race issue is employed mainly to underline the power of natural instinct to overcome artificial cultural inhibitions—for all its ostentatious anti-racism, the book depends for its effect on the reader’s being shocked at Anna’s want of inhibition.

Life of My Heart (1905), in which the British attitude towards Indians is more directly confronted than in Anna Lombard, goes further towards portraying the two races as morally and intellectually equal. While the novel’s themes—the importance of freely experiencing sexual pleasure, the narrow-mindedness and materialism of the British middle class, the lack of understanding and casual cruelty shown by the British to their Indian subjects—are not new in her work, it is probably her most explicit attack on racism and conformism. The heroine, Frances Wilson, is the beautiful, classically educated daughter of a rich general, living in India. Though she knows the Indian Civil Servants in her circle have had to pass difficult exams, she finds them intellectually null, and her most pressing suitor is brutal to his servants. Frances falls in love with Hamakhan, a Pathan, whose physical beauty had overpowered her at first sight. She runs away with him and has his child. He is gentle and kind, and his receptive intelligence absorbs in six months ‘a course similar to that of the English public schoolboy’ (258). Although their happiness is menaced by a lustful neighbour’s attempt to buy Frances, she suffers no change of heart; her marriage is happy, and their tragic deaths are the consequence of heavy-handed policing by the loutish authorities. A child is discarded in their flight without much comment.

Cross’s plot confounds expectations on several levels. Her idea seems to be to contrast this marriage, based on the mutual physical desire of two unusually beautiful people, with the loveless materialism of the kind of marriage which is expected of Frances, and which her sister has made. Whereas in Anna Lombard she had given the Englishman all the brain and the Indian all the beauty, in this novel she is at pains to emphasize that Hamakhan though uneducated is in every way superior to Frances’s suitor.5 Most British fictions about interracial sex in this period deal with a white man and a black woman, and, as Bhupal Singh drily remarks, they usually end with the woman’s death.6 Of those which deal with white women who marry black men, a more familiar pattern is that exemplified by Mabel Chan-Toon’s A Marriage in Burmah (1905) and Maud Diver’s Candles in the Wind (1909), in which the marriage turns out disastrously. Although it does not seem to have had the runaway success of Anna Lombard, Life of My Heart was several times reprinted despite the fact that it warmly endorses interracial marriage in both theory and practice. Nancy L. Paxton, in her discussion of race and sex in the Anglo-Indian novel, argues that it ‘challenges every premise in the favourite rape script in the sexual imaginary of the postmutiny period’.7 Whereas Six Chapters of a Man’s Life had associated interracial sex with pollution in precisely the way Paxton sees as typical of Anglo-Indian fiction, in Life of My Heart Cross attempted to imagine a marriage across class and race boundaries which would be wholly successful on the personal level. But like Theodora’s experiment in cross-dressing, Frances’s attempt to forge a new kind of sexual relationship outside her race and class was, Cross implies, something for which the world was not yet ready.

On the whole therefore the sexual experiments of Cross’s early heroines end disastrously. One exception is Lydia, the heroine of Life’s Shop Window (1907), who escapes a life of drudgery as a nursery governess in England to marry a rancher in Arizona. She is given another chance to change the course of her life, to hand in her purchase in life’s shop window, when some rich British travellers visit the ranch. She abandons husband and child to live with spoilt upper-class Eustace Pelham. But he treats her unkindly and she almost leaves him for another man. The casual unsentimentality about children and motherhood is typical of Cross’s books but very unusual for this date. This is equally true of the book’s treatment of sexual feeling. Near the end of the book Lydia and Eustace discuss the possibility of her leaving him:

‘Do you love him?’

‘Not as I have loved you, no,’ she answered. ‘But it is my nature to love any man with whom I live and who is good to me. Besides, in a new connection of this kind there is always passion, and, as I have said, that is a compensation for everything.’ (353)

It is startling to think that this was published in 1907. Many novels of the period offer subtler and more sophisticated analyses of heterosexual relationships. But is there anything in, say, The Golden Bowl (1904), Howards End (1910), or The Reef (1912) to equal this straightforwardness? By the end of the book Lydia and Eustace have acknowledged that they can live together more or less happily. As in Anna Lombard Cross has succeeded in imagining a possible future for her sexual adventurers, who, having disposed conveniently of the debris of their past lives in the shape of husbands, children, etc., can look forward to a moderately cheerful future.

Early in Life’s Shop Window Lydia’s first husband detects the fact that, though she is unaware of it, she is the illegitimate daughter of a nobleman:

Bernard … being neither slow of wit nor dull of eye, nor of the lower classes, felt sure that somehow in those veins flowed blood of rarer quality than country clowns have in theirs. .. Certain tones of voice, certain involuntary ways of thought, these are the gift of heredity alone, the result of long generations of birth and breeding and culture. (28)

Elsewhere in Cross’s work it is noticeable that she dabbled in eugenic theories current at the time. In Self and the Other (1911), for instance, the hero, who is in love with an Indian nurse, responds when a friend comments on her skin colour: “‘She comes from … Gujerat… where the ethnographers consider the traces of the aboriginal inhabitants are clearest… but I should think there must be more Aryan than Dravidian or Kokarian blood in her veins’” (161). For all Cross’s consistent resistance to British assumptions of racial superiority, ideas of racial purity are still admissible for some purposes. And in general we may notice that her reaction against conventional racist opposition to miscegenation is not accompanied by any loss of faith in the theory that race determines character.

To some extent her opposition to British racism and chauvinism should perhaps be seen rather as a reflection of confidence in her own noble birth and literary genius and indifference to lesser distinctions than as an index of her commitment to universal equality. And whereas she depicts with some force the discomforts of conforming to feminine ideology of the European upper-middle class, she repeatedly depicts eastern women, whose cultures hold more glamour for her, as perfectly content to endure their low social status. In 1906, for example, she published a volume of stories called Six Women. The stories were all set in the East (Egypt to India) with the exception of the second, an old story written by 1894, which is set in England; three of the other stories are concerned with interracial sex. The English story does not fit badly with the others, however, since its subject, like that of To-morrow?, is the tragedy of sexual self-repression among young people of the British upper-middle class, and elsewhere Cross’s concern is to demonstrate the superior sensuality, submissiveness, intelligence, beauty, charm and courage of eastern women, At many moments there are traces of the same orientalizing fantasy about life in the harem that was to lead to the success of E.M. Hull’s The Sheik. There is a streak of masochism in the tales and no-one reading them would guess that the author’s views on the relations between men and women were remarkable for their radicalism.

The archives of the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection indicate that Cross became one of the charity’s patrons, uncharacteristictically, because she usually shunned personal publicity. This is probably a measure of her strong feeling on the subject. Anti-vivisection is not at all an uncommon theme in fiction of this period; at the turn of the century many women writers combined commitment to feminism with opposition to vivisection, sometimes extending to conventional medicine in general: examples include G. Colmore and Arabella Kenealy. In Cross’s case the movement seems to have become especially important immediately after the First World War. Over Life’s Edge (1921), one of her oddest books, and the stories published as The Beating Heart (1924) are the texts most strongly marked by enthusiasm for the cause. Shoshana Knapp has argued that the theme reflects Cross’s interest in dissolving boundaries between species, as elsewhere between races or sexes. As well as an interest in animal welfare and opposition to vivisection she expresses a total opposition to all forms of vaccination and also to interventionist medical procedures such as tonsillectomy and even appendectomy.

Cross’s later novels became less popular with readers, and they seem to me also to have less to offer readers today, although none of them is entirely without interest to the aficionado. Perhaps the most curious is that which, as I mentioned at the beginning, George Lansbury brought into the House of Commons debate: Martha Brown, M.P., A Girl of Tomorrow (1935). It is set in a future in which men and women have exchanged gender roles. Cross may have got the germ of the idea from a sketch entitled ‘Eliza Fanshawe, K.C.’, published by a brilliant, eccentric solicitor, E.S.P. Haynes. The story is collected in his Fritto Misto (1924) but seems also to have been published in some earlier journal.8 Haynes’s two-page jeu d’esprit outlines a situation—the successful, sensual, authoritative woman, the dependent, whining, victimized man, which Cross’s novel develops. Cross explores the interaction of romance, power struggle and gender role-playing. Her novel therefore belongs in the tradition of using fantasy to explore feminist issues which includes Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s Herland (1915), Doris Lessing’s The Marriages Between Zones Three, Four and Five (1980), and Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale (1985). However, the ending of the book, in which Martha

Brown abandons her work, the schools she has founded, her four husbands, her children, and the opportunity of becoming Prime Minister, to fly off with a real hero from the American West, where men are still men, indicates Cross’s ambivalence about altogether abandoning manliness and masculinity:

It was very nice and quite new to her to be with someone as strong or stronger than herself. The men of her day were mostly so delicate and needed so much consideration. (203)

It is an ambiguous ending, which bears comparison with the sad conclusion of her first novel, Six Chapters of A Man’s Life. In both novels she is able to imagine new kinds of femininity, and new roles for women, but sexual adventure, which her novels trumpet as the central human experience, seems still to mire them in helpless inequality.

* * * * *

Those who have tasted the peculiar flavour of the fiction of Victoria Cross soon afterwards ask themselves: why? Where did she come from? In what intellectual hothouse was so exotic a plant reared? Many mysteries remain, but the known facts are as follows. The child who became ‘Victoria Cross’ was bom Annie Sophie Cory in Rawalpindi, then in India and now in Pakistan, on 1 October 1868.9 She was the youngest of three daughters of a British officer in the Bengal army, Arthur Cory (1831-1903) and his wife Elizabeth Fanny Griffin (1834-1916): her parents had been married in I860.10

It easy enough to trace the outlines of the career of her father, Colonel Arthur Cory, even if his personality remains mysterious. The son of a barrister, he had been commissioned aged 17 into the 16th Regiment of Native Infantry in the Bengal Army on 3 October 1848, and arrived in India in January 1849. Four years later he was Adjutant of the 3rd Irregular Cavalry, stationed at Jhansi. Following the Mutiny he was attached in January 1858 to the Nepalese army under Jung Bahadur, and was present at the capture of Goruckpore. Later in 1858 he was second in command of the 1st Mahratta Horse, in General Whitlock’s Force, and was decorated for services at the capture of Lucknow. In January 1860 Elizabeth Fanny Griffin came out to India and married him in Calcutta Cathedral. A son, Harcourt Frederick, was bom to them on 25 October 1861.11 In 1863 Cory was transferred as a Brigade Major to the Adjutant General’s Department of the Bengal Staff Corps, stationed at Mian Mir, outside Lahore. A daughter, Isabel Edith, was bom there in April 1863; and a fortnight later Harcourt Cory died aged 16 months. In December 1863 Cory got six months leave to go to Europe, but returned to India in time to serve during the Bhutan campaign in 1865-6. Another daughter, Adela Florence, later to become the poet ‘Laurence Hope’, was bom in England, near Bristol, in April 1865.12 From 1867 Cory was Brigade Major in Rawalpindi (near the modem capital of Islamabad) where his youngest daughter, Annie Sophie, was bom in 1868. In 1873-5 he was involved in expeditions in Assam, far to the east; first in the Daphla Hills in Tibet and then in the Naga Hills on the Burmese frontier. He had literary aspirations, publishing a verse romance The Re-Conquest (1865, 1868), and in 1876 a critical analysis of British policy in India, Shadows of Coming Events, or, The Eastern Menace, emphasizing the threat to the Indian empire from the north, from Russia. Having been on leave in Europe from May 1875, he retired from the army with the rank of colonel in November 1876.13

In 1877 he joined a newspaper in Lahore, the Civil and Military Gazette, aimed at the British community in north India. During this period he was acquainted with Kipling’s parents, for John Lockwood Kipling was a regular contributor, and the British Library possesses a richly comic photograph of Colonel Cory, Mrs Kipling and others in Simla in 1881, dressed up for a performance of a tableau vivant illustrating the ballad ‘Auld Robin Gray’.14 Cory served as joint editor until forced by ill-health to return to England in late 1882.15 Announcing his departure, the paper referred to his anti-Russian views which ‘though they may have been identified, by writers of the opposite school, with what is termed Jingoism, have been largely confirmed by the hard logic of events.’ The young Rudyard was given his first job on the Civil and Military Gazette and started in November 1882; it seems likely that he took over at least some of Cory’s duties, but they cannot have known each other for long.16 By 1884 Cory must have returned to India, for he took over the paper’s Sind edition and turned it into a new journal, the Sind Gazette, published twice weekly in Karachi, eight hundred miles south-west of Lahore.17 In Karachi, then a remote port with a small European community, he seems to have played a prominent part in local affairs; he probably returned occasionally to Europe, but apart from that he spent the rest of his life in Karachi as a newspaper editor/ proprietor.18 He died in England in 1903.

The British census of 1881 indicates that in that year the two elder daughters, Isabel and Adela, aged 17 and 15, were at a small girls’ boarding school in Montague Road, Richmond-upon-Thames, kept by a Belgian, Jacques Philippart, and his English wife, where there were several other girls with Indian connections.19 Adela is said to have returned to Lahore at the age of sixteen, which would suggest 1882, just before her father’s retirement from the Civil and Military Gazette20 The youngest sister may have been living with her parents in Lahore, or equally she may have remained with her mother or other relatives in England or elsewhere in Europe.21 It was not uncommon for Anglo-Indian families to be parted for years.22 On the evidence of her novels it is impossible to say whether or not Annie Cory went to school at all:

Neither had been to school; both had missed that disadvantage, and the degrading horror of examinations and cramming. Paula (1896) (17)

never having been to school … she was free from all those small, petty habits of mind, that littleness of mental vision that so mars and dwarfs the ordinary feminine character. Five Nights (1908) (90)

Whoever it was who wrote ‘Home, Sweet Home’ one feels the author must have been an orphan and brought up at a school. The Night of Temptation (1912) (8)

Although the climate of Karachi, with its sea breezes, was considered tolerable for Europeans all year round, unlike that of Lahore, the Corys may have paid summer visits to hill stations such as Simla or Murree. Journeys to Europe were expensive, and at this period the exchange rate between the rupee and sterling was not favourable to British residents in India. There is no evidence that the Corys were particularly prosperous. However, it is clear that Annie was in England in 1888 and again in 1890. In later life she claimed to have been ‘a BA of London University’. This was not true. She matriculated at London University in June 1888 and, with private tuition, passed the Intermediate Examination in Arts in 1890 as an external student, but she did not pass the BA examination in 1891, whether because she failed it or because she had abandoned her studies it is now impossible to determine.23 She may have been living in London throughout this period, or she may have turned up to sit the two examinations and spent the intervening period in Karachi or elsewhere. Probably Karachi continued to be the family’s main centre of operations, for both her sisters married in India, but there is some evidence to suggest that Annie and her mother may have lived in Europe.24 In 1892 she travelled to Karachi from Suez, arriving in time for Isabel’s wedding with only four days to spare.25 It seems likely that she was living in London in 1894-5; a paragraph in the gossip column of the New York Bookman of August 1895 comments that she lived ‘in the country near London’.26 In 1899 she is known to have been in Colorado.

In ‘Theodora’, Cross’s first published writing, the heroine and hero agree that the English people in India are ‘snobs’, i.e., aspiring to a higher social status than they are entitled to. The implication seems to be that the author (for the reader is being invited to share the characters’ point of view) considered herself socially superior to the majority of the middle-class professional people who made up the ruling class. On the whole the situation of the Cory family, outside the main power structures of British India (the army, the civil service), with a father who part-owned a small newspaper business (trade), living in a backwater, may well have appeared incommensurate with the social pretensions to which their upper-class connections in England might have given rise. If such an attitude existed, it might help to explain some of the subversive qualities of the works of Victoria Cross and Laurence Hope. Certainly the fairly broad-minded novelist Flora Annie Steel was to comment unfavourably on the second sister’s impatience with convention.27 One would certainly like to know more about that household in Karachi (British India’s answer to Haworth Parsonage?) but at present it seems we are unlikely to find out much.

The eldest sister, Isabel Edith Cory (1864-1912), who for many years worked for her father as unpaid assistant editor of the Sind Gazette, married in Karachi in 1892 a bank employee named John Tate; she was to be her father’s successor as editor of the Sind Gazette, and, as I note below, his principal legatee.28 She retired from the editorship owing to ill-health in 1910 and commited suicide in Karachi in 1912.29 The second sister, Adela Florence Cory (1865-1904), known as ‘Violet’, married in 1889 Colonel (later Lieutenant-General) Malcolm Hassels Nicolson (1843-1904); after her success with The Garden of Kama she published other volumes of verse, and committed suicide in 1904, following her husband’s death during a prostate operation, leaving an only child, Malcolm Nicolson (1900-79).

Arthur Cory died in England on 15 January 1903, leaving his Indian property, including the Sind Gazette, to Isabel Tate, by then a widow.30 Smaller legacies to his wife and other daughters included an annuity of £20 per annum to Annie Sophie Cory, even then a tiny sum, insufficient to support a single woman in gentility. However, one cannot be sure from this that they were on bad terms, since the provision probably took account of income from other sources. In 1928 she was to tell the unreliable journalist Sewell Stokes that her father had left her in his will to her uncle Heneage Griffin. His will contains no such provision, nor, of course, as a successful novelist of thirty-five, was she his to leave.

The widowed Mrs Cory, ‘my most beautiful and most gifted mother’,31 and her youngest daughter seem already to have been living with the former’s youngest brother, Heneage Mackenzie Griffin (1848-1939), who had made a fortune in land speculation and gold mining in Colorado, and had returned to England in about 1902.32 As early as 1895, when signing her first contract with John Lane, Annie Sophie was calling herself Vivian Cory. By 1905 she had adopted the name Vivian Cory Griffin in ordinary life, although she also conducted some of her business correspondence (for example that with Mr Thring of the Society of Authors) under the name Victoria Cross.

The three of them, Cross, her mother and her uncle, cohabited thenceforward, travelling extensively, mostly in southern Europe. It appears that in about 1908 a house in the New Forest which for a few years had been their base was given up for what was intended to be permanent residence on the Continent, although they also paid some visits to England (see Chronology p.31). In 1910 Cross wrote to ask Thring’s advice as to ‘whether as a person residing entirely abroad I am bound to pay income tax to England.’33 It seems that they were completely absent from England between late 1909 and 1912.34

After the mother’s death in 1916 she continued to live with her Uncle Heneage. He is the usual witness to her signature on the surviving publishing contracts, and occasionally conducted negotiations on her behalf with publishers. Except during the First World War, when they went to English resorts such as Malvern and Brighton, they travelled widely in Europe, favouring the Swiss and Italian lakes and the French Riviera. After the First World War he bought from his elder brother what remained of the family’s estates in Northamptonshire and devoted a good deal of money and attention to putting them in order and researching the history and genealogy of the family. It was thought by some of his relations that he intended to leave the property to his great-nephew. His niece, he wrote rather wistfully, did not share these interests and preferred to live in the South of France.35 For some years before his death his sight was failing. He died in Como, Italy, in 1939. Without informing her other relations of his death, Cross quickly proved in Switzerland a will dated 1910 which made her his principal heiress. By 1943 she was living in a hotel in Geneva and engaging in energetic correspondence with her solicitors in England about her liability for tax on Heneage’s estate. During this period she seems to have fallen in love with an American, Leonard Bradford, the US Consul in Marseilles. She wrote enthusiastically about him to her cousin Nancy Griffin, who thought her mad.36 She died in 1952 in a hospital in Milan, leaving everything in a brief will to Paolo Tosi, a Milanese antique dealer, who engaged in a protracted legal dispute with her nephew and heir-at-law Malcolm Nicolson over an estate valued at over £100,000, derived mostly from Griffin’s fortune rather than from the profits of her literary career.37 The administration of the estate was further complicated by a claim by the administrators that Leonard Bradford had defrauded her of £100,000 during a seven-year love affair starting after Heneage Griffin’s death in 1939, partly by playing on her desire to avoid British taxes.38

* * * * *

There are a large number of gaps in this account of Victoria Cross’s life. What terms was she on with her family? Did she draw on personal experience when creating heroines who spend their teens devoted to Greek literature and their twenties abandoned to physical passion? Did she have first-hand knowledge of the theatrical circles she describes in Paula or of the artistic circles she describes in Five Nightsl Where was she living and what did she do in the period between dropping out of her university course in 1890 and going to visit Heneage Griffin in Colorado in 1899? Did she, as Shoshana Knapp has speculated, have a sexual relationship with her uncle?39 All these questions remain unanswered and probably unanswerable. Much as we should like to know what it was about life in the Cory family, one of the thousands of upper-middle-class families of the Raj, which made two of the three daughters take to writing, so controversially, about the erotic aspects of British women’s life in colonial India, at present the evidence is wanting. Partly no doubt because for much of her life she lived abroad, it is also remarkably hard to track down enough evidence to get any sense of her contacts in England. Shoshana Knapp has also commented on her remarkable invisibility in literary memoirs of the period.40

Cross seems to have sedulously avoided any personal publicity, but she was not entirely above dropping hints about her life. What, for instance, are we being asked to think of the dedication to Anna Lombard:

‘C— my C—

‘Verona’s summer hath not such a flower.’

The allusion to Romeo and Juliet is a peculiar one, since this is Lady Capulet’s praise of Paris. Like the novel, the play concerns a love triangle and lovers separated by prejudice. Anyone reading the dedication is free to assume that it refers to the author’s lover. Life of My Heart, again, has a noteworthy dedication:

C— my C—

By the light of whose smiles this manuscript was written.

There is no one above Thee, and no one beside Thee;

Thou standest alone as the nightingale sings,

And my words that would praise Thee are impotent things.

The verses come from Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s ‘Insufficiency’. The biographer is none the wiser reading this, but the critic may notice that the reader is being invited to think that the sexual fulfilment which is so romantically evoked in another Romeo and Juliet tale here is currently being shared by the author.

Regrettable as it is that the facts of the case are so elusive, biographers of medieval or renaissance writers make do with clues and hints, and in this case so must we. On both sides Victoria Cross came of an upper-middle-class family with connections to the landed gentry. There is nothing unusual in that: a large proportion of novelists of her generation did so. In her case the home environment may have offered some contacts with people involved in the arts. For one thing, young women who received advanced education of the kind Cross claimed in the 1880s were exceptionally lucky and/or being trained to earn their own living. This, coupled with the fact that all three sisters had professional careers at a time when that was unusual for women of their class, suggests a home in which women’s education and women’s abilities were taken unusually seriously. Her father was a working newspaperman and a published poet. He was also first cousin of the composer Arthur Goring Thomas (1850-1892), then well-known for his songs and operas. On her mother’s side her eldest uncle, Harcourt Griffin, was an amateur musician; among his fifteen entries in the British Library Music Catalogue is a setting of a poem ‘Weep not for the Dead’ written by Cross’s mother. He also set a song of Katherine Tynan Hinkson’s, and one of Andrew Lang’s, and wrote some piano music. The Cory daughters seem to have been close to their mother’s sister, Georgina Griffin (d.1927), for Violet Nicolson left her aunt Georgina her copyrights. She must have been distinctly broad-minded, that spinster aunt, for Cross inscribed to her a copy of her sensational novel Anna Lombard:

To dearest Georgina

The one who has sympathised most with, and understood best, and seen most clearly the real meaning of this book. With love and admiration from her dear grateful little niece the Authoress.41

Very little is known of any friendships with other professional writers. One can speculate on the possibility that she may have known the Crackanthorpe family. Herbert Crackanthorpe (1870-1896) published decadent stories in the Yellow Book, married Leila Macdonald, another contributor, and died tragically and mysteriously in his twenties in 1896. His parents, Montague and Blanche, seem certainly to have been acquainted with Violet Nicolson, for it was at their house that she met and made friends with Hardy in 1901.42 Six years earlier, in an antagonistic reference to ‘Theodora’, Blanche Crackanthorpe indicates her own awareness that the author of the story was a young unmarried woman.43 Rebecca West tells an anecdote of Cross’s meeting with the radical politician and writer R.B. Cunninghame Graham (1852-1936).44 A letter of 1909 may perhaps have been addressed to Frank Harris, who tells in his notoriously unreliable biography of Wilde a chronologically rather implausible story about a reference of Wilde’s to Victoria Cross.45 Another letter indicates that Cross was at least professionally acquainted with Arthur Humphreys, a man of letters who ran Hatchards, the famous bookshop in Piccadilly.46 Ella D’Arcy, who helped edit the Yellow Book, remembered Cross, ‘with a white face, thick lips, and tightly-curling tow-coloured hair’ at afternoon tea at the Cromwell Road flat of its editor Henry Harland, but as not invited to the evening parties where the inner circle gathered.47

Future researchers therefore still have a good deal of material to uncover about Victoria Cross’s biography. However, the outline of the story of her literary career can be reconstructed today. Her first break came in 1894 when she sent the manuscripts of a novel and a short story to the publisher John Lane. The evidence for this is in two recently published letters addressed to Lane by Harland, the American novelist who was editor of the Yellow Book from its inception.48 The novel, then entitled The Refiner’s Fire, was that later published as Six Chapters of a Man’s Life (1903). The story, entitled Different Views’, was to appear without title as the second in the collection Six Women (1906).

The letters indicate that by the time Lane passed the MSS on to Harland to consider he himself had already decided, and perhaps told the author, that the novel was so controversial in its treatment of sex as to be unpublishable, for Harland, calling it a ‘work of genius’, suggested that she should ‘circulate a limited edition by subscription’. In a later letter (22 November 1894) Harland discusses the works at some length and with great respect. He urges Lane to reconsider his decision on publication of the novel although ‘you know your own mind, your own business; and you have consulted more practical critics than I.’ The story is good enough for the Yellow Book but not ‘important enough for the author of “The Refiner’s Fire” to make her debut in’ since the novel is

tout simplement—a work of genius’ … It contains much of the subtlest observation, the subtlest commentary, or life and human nature I have ever met in English fiction. … of a genius, warm and splendidly-coloured, and all the more interesting that it is manifestly immature. If the author can do these things in the green wood, what will she not do in the dry?

He begged Lane to persuade the author to let him publish the ‘Third Chapter—that splendid chapter’ in the Yellow Book:

I am sure it would at once make the author’s reputation as a new writer of almost unparalleled power; I am sure it would attract a greater degree of attention than any other story we have printed has attracted…. If I knew the author’s name, if I felt she would not think me importunate and indiscreet, I would write directly to her … Tell her how very much 1 admire her work, how anxious I am to print Chapter III in the next Y.B., and how very sure I am that it will ‘place’ her at once among the ‘precious few’ who are today writing important fiction in England.

For an unpublished author of 26 these must have been, if she saw them, exciting words. They were followed swiftly by action on the part of the publisher. Lane secured the publication of the chapter for Harland, and in January 1895 ‘Victoria Cross’ published ‘Theodora: A Fragment’ in the fourth volume of The Yellow Book. In March she signed a contract with John Lane to publish her novel Consummation in the Bodley Head series. During the spring and summer Grant Allen’s The Woman Who Did, published in February in the Keynotes series, sparked a world-wide controversy about marriage, feminism and extramarital sex. Perhaps Lane saw a marketing opportunity. An agreement between Lane and Cross for the publication of The Woman Who Didn’t is dated 27 June 1895, and the Consummation contract was cancelled in August. It has been suggested that the novel was simply renamed and brought out in the Keynotes format, but it seems more likely that Consummation was a retitled version of The Refiner’s Fire, alias Six Chapters of a Man’s Life.49 Unless the draft of The Woman Who Didn’t was entirely different from the published version, Consummation would be an entirely inappropriate title for it, since it is about a love affair which is never consummated.

Apart from the publication of The Woman Who Did, the year 1895 saw other seismic events in the literary world. In the previous year W.H. Smith and C.E. Mudie had agreed to kill the three-volume novel, and so the fiction of the new age, instead of appearing in dark and solid Victorian threesomes, was taking the form of slender pastel-coloured pocket-sized books like those in the Keynotes series. In April 1895 Oscar Wilde was arrested on a charge of sodomy. In the wake of this scandal homosexuals left the country in droves, and John Lane purged the Yellow Book of its more controversial and decadent contributors, among them Aubrey Beardsley, who was sacked from his post as art editor. This reactionary movement may be part of the context in which Consummation (whichever novel it was) became The Woman Who Didn’t. Perhaps it also explains why, although The Woman Who Didn’t seems to have had a modest success, John Lane did not publish Cross’s second novel, Paula: A Sketch from Life (1896), which appeared the following October under the imprint of the Northumbrian publisher Walter Scott. Like The Woman who Didn’t and ‘Theodora’ it is set mainly in London, but in a more Bohemian and theatrical milieu. Walter Scott was also the publisher of A Girl of the Klondike (1899), a Western which ends with the tragic death in a shootup of its gun-toting heroine Katrine.

Cross attempted to have her third novel published by T. Fisher Unwin, an innovative literary publisher, associated, like John Lane, with the new movement in fiction.50 If her career had been arrested at this point, her place in literary history would have been a different one. Up till this point she had received many respectful reviews. Like many of her contemporaries she had been attempting to find a new fictional language which could depict the sexual and social experiences of independent women such as Theodora, Eunice, Paula and Katrine and break the mould of the three-decker. Had she been accepted by Unwin, her career might have continued to develop along these lines.

But she was not, and her next novel was to prove the turning-point in her career, establishing her in the public eye as a writer of sensational sex novels. To some extent this must be attributable to the fact that it had been taken on by a very different kind of publisher. Anna Lombard, one of her most popular novels, set in India and dealing explicitly with a triangular sexual relationship between an Englishwoman, and two men, one Indian and one English, was published by John Long, who specialized in more or less steamy sex-problem fiction, and who was a brilliant publicist. The destruction of the Long archives means that our knowledge of her relationship with him derives only from references in her letters to Thring and Laurie. She fell out with him, and so such references are mostly disparaging, but there is little doubt that her worldwide reputation was indebted to his efficient marketing of Anna Lombard.

After Anna Lombard Cross returned to Walter Scott, who published four more of her novels: Six Chapters of a Man’s Life (1903), To-morrow? (1904), TheReligion of Evelyn Hastings (1905), and Life of My Heart (1905). These are some of Cross’s ripest fictions—combining her capacity for rich absurdity and her skill in exploring outrageously some dearly held assumptions about social and sexual behaviour.

In July 1905 Cross signed an agreement with T. Werner Laurie for the publication of a collection of stories, Six Women (1906). She boasted to him of her educational attainments: ‘I am a B.A. of London University in Greek, Latin, Mathematics, Foreign Languages, and Anglo Saxon and English Composition etc so that I am as competent to be the final judge of proofs as any one that could be appointed.’51 This was the beginning of a long collaboration, of which her side of the correspondence fortunately survives in the University of Reading Library. It is so much the largest surviving body of evidence about her career that it is possible that it may give a misleading impression of the importance of her relationship with Laurie. Although he published the majority of her subsequent books it was her practice to sell him only short leases (usually seven years) of the right to publish editions at specific prices (65. or 1.?. or 6d., etc.). For most of the period she kept a good deal of power in her own hands, and often came to arrangements with other publishers, sometimes through him and sometimes not.

Laurie went on to publish Life’s Shop Window in January 1907. In the agreement (11 September 1906) he gave her £600 in advance on account of a royalty of 25% on the English edition and Ad. on the Colonial edition for the right to publish a six-shilling edition for seven years. This was a book in which the author retained great confidence for many years: as late as 1934 she wrote to him ‘I shall be delighted to work hard for this book as it is so well worth it and will have an endless life like Anna Lombard.’52

A letter to Laurie (21 August 1907) is characteristic in its businesslike manner and touch of arrogance, and refers to her decision to let John Long publish Five Nights (1908):

I have your letter re Six Women american royalty and I would like you to accept the proposition and sell Kennerley the 700 as you propose.

I have been waiting and waiting for the July accounts which you said on Aug 1 would follow in [a] few days. Please let me have them now.

I have arranged with John Long to bring out one of the two manuscripts I mentioned to you some time ago. This is due to his paying me such good royalties on Anna Lombard. [I—paper tom] cannot understand how [he] can pay more on an old book than you do on [a] new one.

[I] am most anxious to advertise Life’s Shop Window and the moment you put it on a paying basis to me, I will do so.

I consider the sales of that great book are only in their infancy.

I should much have liked you to have had [my] next book & hope you will make it possible for me to publish the other MS: with you[.]

Yours very truly V.C.Griffin

She was already dissatisfied with John Long by 1908, complaining to Thring ‘he opens all my letters and sends on what he thinks good for me.’53 But she was keen to play one publisher against another. In a letter (4 April 1908) to her first publisher, John Lane, written from the Ghezireh Palace Hotel in Cairo, she informs him that she has been offered £30 by two different publishers for the right to publish the cheap edition of The Woman Who Didn’t. She has loyally allowed him to continue, but if he wants to publish an even cheaper edition he must pay for it. Her manner is that of a novelist who has the upper hand: ‘The season here has been very brilliant and everyone most kind to me and my books … every shop has great stocks of them.’ She went on chasing Lane for payment for the sixpenny rights in her first book, eventually chiselling £5 out of him in 1910.

Laurie presumably thought it worth his while to outdo John Long to retain her for his business, for, with the exception of Five Nights, he published the next four of her novels. There is a letter from Heneage Griffin to the Society of Authors (12 November 1909) which indicates that he had been negotiating with John Long on Cross’s behalf about the publication of The Eternal Fires (1910), but in the end had sold the book to Laurie for an advance of £850, and a 25% royalty, as well as £500 from Hulton for the newspaper serial rights54 and £350 from Mitchell Kennerley for the American rights.55 Unfortunately Kennerley turned out to be a rogue. Cross had started out by approving of him: ‘I am pleased to meet Mr Kennerley in every way as he pushes my books so well.’56 But her agent, Hughes Massie of Curtis Brown, had carelessly given him the MS without a contract or the whole of the money.57 Not until May 1910 was she able to report that he had paid up. ‘What detestable people publishers are, aren’t they?’ she wrote to Thring.58 Kennerley was found in 1913 to have sold the dramatic rights in Life’s Shop Window which he had not bought, with the result that solicitor’s letters were sent to a surprised and unsuspecting theatre manager in Melbourne, Australia. ‘Kennerley’, wrote Laurie to Griffin (14 August 1913), ‘is an absolutely unscrupulous man and snaps his fingers at the law all the time and has treated me so abominably that long ago I refused to do further business with him.’59

Late in 1910 Laurie published The Love of Kusuma: An Eastern Love Story with an introduction by Victoria Cross. Although it purports to be written by Bal Krishna, there is little doubt that it is from her own pen. It may well be the work she had referred to in a draft agreement of July 1905 as ‘the Indian Tale, of which I am very proud.’ In the preface she reiterates her contrast between Indian spirituality and Western materialism. In January 1911 Self and the Other appeared, the tale of a tragic love affair between an Indian woman and a solitary, curmudgeonly candidate for the Indian Civil Service, also from Laurie, and she got an advance of £750 on account of 25% royalties for a lease of rights for the first seven years.

Her letters to Laurie are frequently peremptory. It is interesting that, despite the fact that her fiction parades its radicalism, she does not hesitate to enforce her arguments with an appeal to their common heritage of gentility. In a letter of June 1912, for instance, about the publication of The Night of Temptation, she wrote:

It seems to me madness on your part to throw away Lifes S. W. & the new book simply because you won’t trust me, when you know in your own heart you do trust me perfectly & you know I have never done a mean thing towards you nor pushed any right I had to your disadvantage … Thinking every thing over as I have done today I do not see that I gain anything under the contract except the pleasure of publishing with a man I like & a gentleman instead of the ordinary publisher…. In the event ofYr death before you have published the new book & the MS: reverting to me I should re-pay to your wife the £700 I had received from you. Any gentleperson would do that. It would be a matter of honour.60

One may compare this with Sewell Stokes’s reaction to her manner in his 1928 article. He was surprised to find in the notorious Victoria Cross, ‘this doll-like little person’, the genteel and lady-like Miss Griffin.61 It is not clear whether or not she also used this approach in her dealings with an ‘ordinary publisher’, like John Long. Certainly she employed equally class-conscious language when in 1911 she objected strongly to his making unauthorized alterations to the text of the shilling edition of Five Nights. He wrote smoothly on the subject to Thring:

The condition of the fiction market, especially as regards books of the nature written by your Client, has, as you are no doubt aware, during the last few years, undergone a great change, with the result that books which were freely circulated a year ago on the bookstalls are now banned.62

‘He has … turned my beautiful style into that of a shopman & made my story mbbish … put in his own intolerable trash and given it to the public as mine’, objected the author.63) In another indication that there was an ironic discrepancy between her authorial persona and her social identity, she declared that she herself was not willing to appear in court because ‘my family would most strongly object to it.’64 Her advisers seem to have felt anyway that the court might be prejudiced against her kind of fiction. However, Long went on to publish two more of her novels, The Life Sentence (1912) and The Greater Law (1914), before she broke with him. In July 1914 she wrote to the helpful Mr Thring: ‘Will you kindly read the enclosed letter through and if it is not libellous forward it to Mr Long for me.’

It distressed her to think that publishers made so much money out of the first editions of her books, and she wondered if she could publish them herself: It does seem such a pity that these worthless and dishonest publishers should get nearly the whole of the profits of an author’s work as they do now.’65

The rapidly developing cinema industry also offered opportunities. In January 1915 she wrote to ask Thring whether she would endanger the dramatic rights of a novel by letting a ten-year lease of the ‘Kinema rights’.66 In that year films of both Five Nights and Paula (novels which are set mainly in a Bohemian London and have no Indian theme) were made in Britain. Cross was later to claim (though the records indicate otherwise) that she had written and produced the former personally; she also boasted that it had been immensely successful, making £11,000 profit in the first six months.67

At this period during the First World War, when she was living in England, she was much interested, like so many of her contemporaries, in the possibility of dramatizing her works, since at this time successful plays were immensely lucrative. She dramatized The Greater Law herself and asked Thring to put her in touch with a good dramatic agent. He produced Golding Bright (husband of George Egerton, the author of the original Keynotes) whom she liked on first meeting him. But he rejected the play. ‘This rather amazed me after this same play had been warmly praised by Sir H. Tree[,] Matheson Lang and Gaston Mayer. ’ Her attention seems to have then turned to the dramatic possibilities of Five Nights, partly perhaps because of its success as a film. In early 1918 she wrote a series of sycophantic letters to the Lord Chamberlain, Lord Sandhurst, whose sanction was necessary for the performance of plays in Great Britain. Five Nights had been rejected as unfit for public performance some time in 1917, and she begged him to consider a revised version:

I submitted some alterations to Mr Bendall and I understood if I made these, the play would be considered satisfactory [.] They were (1) that the heroine should pose for a draped picture instead of undraped and (2) should marry the hero instead of living with him without marriage … I have tried to make the atmosphere of the play more serious and moral as I understood you wished … It gives me the greatest distress and suffering both mental and physical to alter anything I have written It may seem that there is some levity and disregard for morality in the last act, on Trevor’s part, but the moral is excellent as Suzee pays with her life for her misdoing and Trevor only narrowly escapes.68

The play was licensed with the alterations and performed at the Bedford Theatre, Camden Town, on 1 February 1918, and then seems to have toured. By April it had reached Bournemouth, from where the Lord Chamberlain received an indignant telegram demanding that he rescind the licence for additional matter, as the manager had put in material against Cross’s wishes and thus broken his contract. Lord Sandhurst obligingly did so. Evidently, however, the disagreement between Cross and the manager was patched up, because in September Howard M. Tyrer, secretary of the London Council for the Promotion of Morality, wrote to the Lord Chamberlain protesting that the play had been performed in Putney and Willesden, and was now corrupting the inhabitants of Huddersfield. Apparently Cross had further correspondence with the Lord Chamberlain’s office about the licensing of The Greater Law, which was finally put on in 1920, but these papers have been destroyed.69 Probably this episode partly inspired the account in Martha Brown, M.P. of the heroine’s passionate affair with the Censor of Plays, Lord Kingsley.

A letter to Thring (18 January 1918) indicates that Kennerley had continued to abuse his rights in Life’s Shop Window in some way (perhaps by publishing cheap editions without paying for them). ‘Can nothing be done?’, wrote Cross piteously, ‘Kennerley lives in luxury and grows fat on my profits while I, after all my work in creating a success, am in poverty.’ This poverty must have been comparative, but no doubt, like all those living on income from stocks and shares at the time, the Griffins experienced a drop in their standard of living. It seems that she came more and more to rely on Laurie. Some of the largest sums she received from him were payments at this period for rights to do cheap reprints of her early books: £600 in 1917, for example, for a seven-year lease of sixpenny rights on two early books; and in 1918 £1000 for a seven-year lease of the right to publish Is. editions of three early books and £500 for a seven-year lease of the Is rights on The Life Sentence. After the war he published eight of her nine subsequent books, the exception being The Beating Heart (1924), published by C.W. Daniel. In August 1919 she got £1350 for an eight-year lease of rights in her new story collection Daughters of Heaven, but although her price seemed to have gone up she could still write about ‘these dreadfully hard times’ in 1923. She took a keen interest in her sales and seems to have made a habit of cross-questioning booksellers about supplies of her books wherever she happened to be, writing to Laurie (30 August 1924) about the success of her books on the Riviera, ‘Do make Dawson take a lot… all the shops at Monte Carlo, Nice, Menton want them & when they get them they put [them in] the window & they are sold directly.’70 But by the end of the twenties he was giving her much smaller advances. In 1929 she got £250 for Electric Love, and in the next year the same for The Unconscious Sinner. In 1932 she took an advance of £175 for d Husband’s Holiday, and for The Girl in the Studio (1934) she got only £125, the same as she did for her last book, Jim (1937). Of course she was probably still getting significant income from her earlier books, but she must have been aware of the diminution of her earning power. She encouraged Laurie to pick up smaller sums by disposing of foreign rights, serialization rights and so on, writing (14 January 1929), ‘Yes do try to get me any offers you can, for any rights and of any sum I receive through your efforts I will give you one third.’

During the Second World War Cross lived mainly in Switzerland. A number of her works appeared in new translations: in French, Anna Lombard (Geneva, 1943), Cinq mats (Geneva, 1944), L’amour electrique (Geneva, 1946), La pecheresse inconsciente (Geneva, 1946), and Marthe Brown, deputee (Geneva, 1947); and in Italian, Anna Lombard (Milan, 1947), La Peccatrice Incosciente (Milan, 1949), and Per la tua Felicita (Milan, 1947). The translator of the works in French is given as Georges Fabret and that of those in Italian as Giorgio Fevi; neither appears to have published anything else. The names sound rather similar; possibly they cover the identity of only one person.71 It seems likely that the translation rights were disposed of to a local entrepreneur in return for ready money during an uncertain period. It is curious that a market could be found for the books at a time when her English and American publishers had allowed her works to go out of print.

Various circumstances seem to have conspired to bring a once notorious novelist into near-total oblivion. In the first place, as is not unknown for artists who begin their careers as strikingly up-to-date and avant-garde, her work was soon overtaken by that of younger and even more daring writers, so that it began to appear not so much ahead of its time as quaintly pre-war. Her own reclusiveness, her use of pseudonyms, and the habit of living a peripatetic life in foreign hotels, ensured that little personal publicity appeared, and she acquired, as far as one can see, no circle of intimates, either within or without the literary world. Confidence in her own opinions seems to have developed early on into an intolerance and indeed lack of interest in those of others, which matured into an indifference to the rest of the world, including contemporary developments in literature. Financial security, acquired by living with the rich uncle, appears to have enabled her to detach herself almost entirely from all but a handful of business acquaintances, relations and hangers-on. Long outliving her early reputation, and dying abroad, largely estranged from her family, long before the revaluation of Edwardian fiction, she attracted no obituarists. Yet her literary achievement is far from negligible, and it is certainly sui generis. The current interest in novelists of British India and in radical women writers at the end of the nineteenth century seems likely to bring her out of her previous obscurity and to enable an examination of her work in the full context of its period.

* * * * *

In the course of preparing this bibliography I have accumulated a large number of debts of gratitude. Thanks to Shoshana Milgram Knapp, pioneer in Cross studies who has laid so much of the groundwork, for help and advice. I should also particularly like to thank Anthony Griffin and John Jealous, who were extraordinarily generous with time, information and hospitality; and Peter Edwards and Barbara Garlick, who encouraged me to embark on this project and helped to bring it to completion. I am especially grateful to those who allowed me to publish extracts from manuscripts in their possession. The quotation from a letter of T. Werner Laurie on page 20 is reproduced with the kind permission of the T.W. Laurie archive at Reading University. Because the material was so elusive I wrote a very large number of letters of enquiry: among those who generously provided invaluable information I should name: Bas Aarts, Michael Bott of Reading University Library, Melisa Brittain, Jill Grey, John Foot, Mark Samuels Lasner, Mary Smith of Harvard College Library, Gail McMillan of Virginia Tech University Library, Shanon Lawson of HRHRC, University of Texas, Austin, Stephen Crook of the New York Public Library, Annette Fern of the Harvard Theatre Collection, Jasper Koedam of the Filmmuseum, Amsterdam, Michelle Duke and Jo Watts of Random House, the staff of the British Library Oriental and India Office Collection, the Reading University Manuscripts department, and the British Film Institute.

The following bibliography has been prepared with some difficulty, as few libraries have large collections of Cross’s works and I have not been able to see copies of all the books. Where no copy is known to survive I have indicated what my authority is for a book’s existence. 1 have also tried to show what problems and puzzles I came across. For translations I have depended on national bibliographies. I hope that this work will be of use to students of Cross’s work, and that they will improve on it: I should be grateful for corrections and additions.

The abbreviations I have used are

EC English Catalogue of Books

AC American Catalogue of Books

  1. 302 H.C. Deb. 5s (7 June 1935), columns 2216-7. []
  2. The book was widely reviewed as the work of a man. It was followed by other collections. Four of the songs were set to music in 1902 under the title ‘Four Indian Love Lyrics’ by Amy (Ward) Woodforde-Finden (1860-1919), also a member of the British community in India. In this form they became enormously popular, frequently sung to a piano accompaniment by amateurs, and also much recorded by artists including John MacCormack, Dame Clara Butt etc. The best known of all, ‘Pale Hands I loved beside the Shalimar’, became the song with which the hero serenades the heroine in E.M. Hull’s 1919 bestseller The Sheik, and so was sung in the film by Rudolph Valentino, who also issued it as a record. []
  3. This is pointed out by G. Krishnamurti, Women Writers of the 1890s (London: Sotheran’s, 1991), 27. Among those who have discussed The Woman Who Didn’t as a riposte to Allen, see Ann L. Ardis, New Women, New Novels (1991). []
  4. Review of Reviews, 23 (June 1901): 597. []
  5. She is also at pains to emphasize the cleverness of Indians compared to Britons in Self and the Other (1911) in which a nervous Indian Civil Service candidate is heard saying “‘Do you know last year in the Indian Civil Service list that the four first places were taken by natives? There was Chatteijie and This is a reference to Sir Atul Chandra Chatterjee, GCIE (1874-1955), who, in 1896 as a student at King’s College Cambridge, came firsl in the ICS exam. []
  6. Bhupal Singh, A Survey of Anglo Indian Fiction (London: Curzon, 1975, rpt of 1934 edition), 167: ‘this device of killing or putting aside the Indian girl is followed by almost all Anglo-Indian novelists who have tackled this problem.’ He refers here to Cross’s Self and the Other.The locus classicus is of course Kipling’s ‘Beyond the Pale’ (1888); another well-known example is Flora Annie Steel’s On the Face of the Waters (1896). []
  7. Nancy L. Paxton, Writing under the Raj: Gender, Race and Rape in the British Colonial Imagination 1830-1947 (New Brunswick, NJ/London: Rutgers UP, 1999), 215. []
  8. Haynes was a supporter of many radical causes, a campaigner for divorce law reform, an opponent of censorship, and a friend of Shaw, Chesterton and Wells. I came across his sketch in Juliet Gardiner’s splendid anthology The New Woman (London: Collins & Browne, 1993). She entitles it ‘Domestic Studies in 2000 AD’ and states that it was published in the Egoist in 1897. This incomplete reference does not seem to work, the Egoist not starting until 1914 and Haynes still being an undergraduate. The date here seems too early. In his A Lawyer’s Notebook (London: Martin Seeker, 1933) 116, Haynes says ‘I was connected in 1911 with a paper called The Free Woman ’. I have searched this journal, which was succeeded by the New Freewoman and the Egoist, but failed to find this particular article, though other contributions, signed E.S.P.H., were there. In the foreword to Fritto Misto he states that the essays were mostly from the New Witness and some from the English Review, the Saturday Review and the Morning Post []
  9. India Office Library. Bengal Baptisms. Annie Sophie Cory, daughter of Arthur and Elizabeth Fanny Cory, living at Rawul Pindee, bom 1 October, baptised 27 October 1868. []
  10. Burke, Landed Gentry (1937), Griffin of Colehurst, for the mother’s family and the marriage date. She was bom at the Mall, Hammersmith, 31 March 1834, and christened St. Laurence’s Church, Thanet, Kent, 29 July 1834, daughter of Alfred Griffin (1811-1867) and his wife Elizabeth Sarah Sandey (d. 1858), see Burke, op.cit., IGI and J. Harvey Bloom, The Griffins of Dingley (private circulation, 1921) 65. Arthur Cory was christened All Souls, Langham Place, London (27 December 1831), son of Henry Cory (d.Radipole, Dorset, 1876), and his wife Caroline Frederick (d. 1903), see IGI and Burke, Peerage and Baronetage (1949), Frederick of Westminster, Bt. Henry Cory was a barrister and the youngest son of Robert Cory of Ormesley Lodge, near Norwich, see Register of Admissions to the Honourable Society of the Middle Temple, 3 vols (London: Butterworth, 1949) III, 473. Henry Cory’s estate was not properly wound up until 1903, when the solicitor dealing with his widow’s affairs applied to administer it and those of three other long-deceased women members of the Cory family, presumably sisters or daughters. The implication of this seems to be that he was not well-off. []
  11. Information from Jill Grey about Harcourt Cory, and about Colonel Cory’s military career. []
  12. For Isabel’s birth BL OIOC Bengal Baptisms: Isabel Edith Cory bom 11 April 1863, baptised 9 May, parents residing at Mean Meer. For Adela’s birth see DNB. []
  13. H.R.Goulding, Old Lahore, Reminiscences of a Resident (Lahore: CMG Press, 1924), 12, states that Cory was for a time, presumably subsequent to his retirement from the army, Commandant of the 1st Punjab Volunteers, the territorial regiment in which Kipling was later briefly to enrol. []
  14. BL OIOC Photo 49/2 (14). The tableaux vivants were reviewed in the Pioneer Mail and Indian Weekly (31 July 1881), 90-91. []
  15. Civil and Military Gazette (14 November 1882), la. His unaccompanied departure from Bombay for Venice by P & O’s ship Surat, on 17 November 1882, is noticed in the Pioneer Mail and Indian Weekly (22 November 1882), 520. []
  16. The Letters of Rudyard Kipling, ed. Thomas Pinney, in progress (London: Macmillan, 1990-) I, 26n. B.J. Moore-Gilbert, Kipling and ‘Orientalism’ (London: Croom Helm, 1986), 23, mentions Arthur Cory among Kipling’s predecessors as Anglo-Indian writers. The implication might be that Cory’s Russophobia could have had an influence on that theme in Kim?< []
  17. Azimusshan Haider, History of Karachi 1839-1900 (Karachi: the author, 1974), 38, 76. []
  18. He was, for example, nominated a member of the municipal commission in 1891 (Haider, op.cit., 19). []
  19. PRO RG11 0843 folio 85, p 24. []
  20. Lesley Blanch, Under a Lilac-Bleeding Star (London: John Murray, 1963) 189. []
  21. Neither Elizabeth Fanny Cory, Annie Sophie Cory, nor any of their immediate relations is detectible on the 1881 census, but this does not necessarily prove that they were not in England at the time, since the original census was not infallible, nor its recent transcription for computerization. []
  22. See, for instance, John Beames, Memoirs of a Bengal Civilian (London: Chatto & Windus, 1961). []
  23. University of London Central Register Part II (1899). London University did not require students to be members of its affiliated colleges, but permitted external students to qualify for its degrees. It examined its students on entry, after at least one year (the intermediate examination) and after at least another year (the final exam), the function of the intermediate examination being to oblige students to study continuously. The intermediate exam required passes in Latin, French or German, English language, literature and history, maths and ancient Greek. The final exam required passes in Latin, Greek, a language (English, French, German, Italian, Arabic or Sanskrit), and either maths (pure or mixed) or mental and moral science. Cory appears to have part-qualified herself for an ordinary pass degree: the honours degree course was more rigorous both in standard and range. Of the 400 candidates who sat the 1891 BA Arts final exam, 239 passed {University of London Calendar, 1891). []
  24. In William Watson & Co, A Guide to Karachi (Karachi: Sind Gazette and Commercial Press, 1891) the list of members of the Karachi Gymkhana (a club) lists Colonel and Miss Cory (i.e., Isabel; Adela having married) only, in a context where one would expect to see the names of Mrs Cory and Miss Annie Cory as well if they also lived in the town. []
  25. Information from Jill Grey: Civil and Military Gazette (14 May 1892), 4. []
  26. The Bookman [New York] (August 1895), 11: The much-discussed ‘Victoria Cross’ of The Yellow Book is a Miss Vivian Cory. She lives in the country near London, and spends so much time in writing that she has no leisure left to read anything but a little Latin, chiefly Ovid, from which she draws her inspiration. She was led to adopt her nom deplume because her initials are V.C., and also by the fact that she is a descendant of a V.C. Roberts Brothers will publish shortly a novel by her, entitled A Woman Who Did Not, in the Keynotes Series. No relation of either the Corys or the Griffins seems to have won a Victoria Cross. It is not difficult to believe that Vivian could have embroidered the facts, but it is just conceivable that she believed herself to be the offspring of an affair between her mother and a V.C., of whom there were certainly plenty in India in 1867. The heroine of The Night of Temptation is the youngest of three sisters and the result of an extramarital affair: ‘the child of love and passion, as the others were of distaste and dislike’ (9). []
  27. The Garden of Fidelity: Being the Autobiography of Flora Annie Steel 1847-1929 (London: Macmillan, 1929), 203: ‘Unconventional as I was, 1 felt a little embarrassed at having to sit beside her striking figure, dressed in a low-necked, short-sleeved pink satin gown, in an open victoria in broad daylight.’ []
  28. BL OIOC, Biographical File. She married in Karachi Registry Office 14 May 1892. His name is given incorrectly as John Dale. He died before 1903, for Arthur Cory’s will calls her widow of John Tate, Punjab Banking Co., Karachi. []
  29. Sind Gazette (3 August 1912), 1. []
  30. OIOC Biographical Index. Arthur Cory’s will in Probate Registry. []
  31. Dedication to The Eternal Fires (1910). Compare also the posthumous dedications to Daughters of Heaven (1920)—‘Dedicated to my beloved and adored mother, the Inspirer of all my work, whose spirit lives ever in my soul, and who, by reason of her glorious beauty, divine gifts, and the wonderful greatness of her character, was herself most truly a daughter of heaven.’—and Over Life’s Edge (1921)—‘My most beautiful and adored mother “The Time shall not outrun my thinking of thee.’” The latter novel, written after Mrs Cory’s death, has as its heroine a woman writer whose beloved mother has died during the war, causing her to abjure the world. []
  32. On Heneage Griffin and his career, see The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 13 vols (1898); H. Hall, America’s Successful Men of Affairs, 2 vols (1895-6); MaryJoy Martin, Suicide Legends, Homicide Rumors: The Griffin Mystery (Montrose, 1986). Vivian’s third novel, A Girl of the Klondike (1899), which is dedicated to Heneage Griffin, may perhaps draw on his personal experience of the gold rush in the Yukon. One of the central characters, Henry Talbot, a strong, silent, upper-class Englishman who runs a successful gold-mine, could even be based on Griffin himself. Talbot and his neighbour Stephen Ward, a young ex-missionary, make friends with the brave and beautiful Katrine Poniatowsky. At first contemptuous of Ward, she is drawn to him as she begins to loathe the mercenary violence around her. Ward marries her, but pregnancy makes her depressed, his narrow Evangelical views are offended by her dancing and gambling, and he is bitten by the soul-destroying gold lust. After a brawl in a saloon she flings herself in front of a gun to save Talbot’s life; a repentant Ward dies carrying her body home in a blizzard. Only Talbot survives, to return to Europe a rich man. []
  33. BL MS Add 56685, f.83-4 (16 January 1910). []
  34. In Kelly’s Directory of Hampshire (1907) the occupier of the house is listed as ‘Miss Griffin’, which suggests that she was the owner or the tenant. But her mother, when making her will (3 August 1905), describes the house as her residence; Heneage Griffin also seems to have lived there. []
  35. Northamptonshire Record Office MS. Heneage Griffin to Mabel Fitzgerald (26 October 1928): ‘Vivian likes the “idea” of these old associations but lives more in the present than the past.’ []
  36. Letter from Ida Griffin to Anthony Griffin (23 April 1950): ‘the last heard of her was a letter to Nancy, sounding quite mad, & likely to marry an American.’ Anthony Griffin MS. []
  37. Sunday Express {11 October 1953), 7. The will, though valid in Italian law, was ineffective in respect of real property in England (not having been signed in the presence of two witnesses). Her real property (consisting of the Griffin family lands bought by Heneage Griffin from his elder brother) therefore passed under the intestacy rules to Vivian Cory’s next-of-kin and heir-at-law, her nephew Malcolm Nicolson. []
  38. Sunday Times (?1953). []
  39. Shoshana Milgram Knapp, ‘Real Passion and the Reverence for Life: Sexuality and Antivivisection in the Fiction of Victoria Cross’ in Rediscovering Forgotten Radicals, ed. Daphne Patai and Angela Ingram (Chapel Hill: UNC Press, 1993) 156-71, 159. It should be emphasized that there is no evidence whatsoever to support this hypothesis. No hint has been found of any scandal attached to their association. At that period it was not uncommon for nieces to keep house for uncles (the novelist R. D. Blackmore, for example, lived with his wife’s niece), and it should be remembered that until Vivian was 48 and Heneage 68 they were chaperoned by Mrs Cory. I must admit, however, that I have allowed myself to toy with the possibility that Olivia Shakespear’s novel Uncle Hilary (1910), in which a woman who has lived a life of passion finds happiness in avuncular companionship, might have been inspired by the fact that ‘Victoria Cross’ lived with her uncle. []
  40. Knapp points out that she is ‘absent from the reminiscences of such figures as Netta Syrett, Evelyn Sharp, Frederic Whyte, Grant Richards, Maurice Baring, W. Graham Robertson, Ernest Rhys, Vincent O’Sullivan, and Richard Le Gallienne.’ See Dictionary of Literary Biography, 197,80-1. []
  41. Quoted by Krishnamurti, Women Writers of the 1890s, 27. []
  42. MS Private Collection. Adela Nicolson to Thomas Hardy (7 August 1903). []
  43. ‘Revolting as it is that it should be possible for a girl to project herself into the mood of a man at one of his baser moments, faithfully identifying herself with the sequence of his sensations ‘Sex in Modem Literature’, Nineteenth Century (April 1895), 607-16, 614. []
  44. Sewell Stokes, Pilloried! etc. (London: Richards, 1928), 82. []
  45. Virginia Tech University Library MS: Victoria Cross to Mr Harris. Harris’s story is that Wilde said that ‘if one could only bed Thomas Hardy with Victoria Cross he would have had some real light with which to show off his little keepsake pictures of starched ladies.’ Oscar Wilde: His Life and Confessions, 2 vols (New York: the Author, 1916), I, 477. But apart from the fact that the inelegance of the phrase seems unlike Wilde, he died in 1900, before the publication of Anna Lombard, and so it must have been from ‘Theodora’ or from Paula that Hardy was to improve his portrayal of female sexuality. After the publication of Jude the Obscure (1896) Hardy had publicly abjured the writing of fiction. I personally find the anecdote implausible. []
  46. BL MS Add 56685 f.79-80. VC to Thring (12 November 1909). []
  47. Ella D’Arcy, ‘Yellow Book Celebrities’, English Literature in Transition 1880-1920, 37-1 (1994), 33-7. []
  48. Karl Beckson and Mark Samuels Lasner, ‘The Yellow Book and Beyond: Selected Letters of Henry Harland and John Lane’, English Literature in Transition 1880-1920,42-4 (1999), 401-32. Letter 1, pp 406-7, Harland to Lane (April 1894), in the King Library, University of Kentucky, and Letter 7, pp 416-9, Harland to Lane (22 November 1894), in the Clark Library, UCLA, refer to Vivian Cory’s work. []
  49. For the assumption that Consummation and The Woman Who Didn’t are the same novel, see Krishnamurti, op. cit., 28. []
  50. MS Berg Collection, New York Public Library. VC to Messrs Fisher Unwin (10 July 1899). []
  51. University of Reading, Six Women file. VC to Laurie (3 July 1905). []
  52. University of Reading, Life’s Shop Window file.VC to Laurie (21 December 1934). []
  53. BL MS Add 56685 f 68-9. []
  54. I have not traced serial publications of any novels by Victoria Cross, but, as this letter implies, it is likely that syndicated serializations of several of her novels appeared in British and perhaps American newspapers in the period 1900-1925. []
  55. BL MS Add 56685, f 78. []
  56. University of Reading, The Woman Who Didn’t file. VC to John Lane (28 June 1908). []
  57. BL MS Add 56685 f. 87.VC to Thring (24 March 1910). []
  58. BL MS Add 56685 f.90. VC to Thring (2 June 1910). []
  59. BL MS Add.56685, f.105. []
  60. The letter is date-stamped 18 June 1912 and dated Tuesday night. 18 June was a Tuesday. []
  61. Stokes, op.cit., 74. []
  62. BL MS Add 56978, f.112-3. John Long to Herbert Thring (7 June 1911). []
  63. BL MS Add 56978, f.l 15-7. VC to Thring (25 November 1911 []
  64. Ibid. []
  65. BL MS Add. 56685 f. 107-8. VC to Thring (24 May 1915). []
  66. BL MS Add. 56685 f.109. []
  67. MS Berg Collection, New York Public Library. VC to Eric S. Pinker (17 February 1924). []
  68. BL MS LCP Correspondence Files 1918/1378. VC to Lord Sandhurst (11 January 1918). []
  69. There is an entry for The Greater Law in the card index of the Lord Chamberlain’s correspondence files, but no file survives. []
  70. Cf. the testimony of her nephew Malcolm Nicolson, quoted in Gwyn Lewis, ‘“Heart-throb” of the 20’s leaves all to Mr. Tosi’, Sunday Express (11 October 1953), 7: ‘She used to go around the book shops, and if her novels were nol displayed there was a fierce argument with the shopkeeper.’ []
  71. He is also called ‘Georges Fabesch’ in the Sunday Times report of Vivian’s will. []

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