Lizzie Selina Eden, authoress

September 14, 2012 at 10:27 am (books, europe, news, travel) (, , , , , , , , )

Have you ever read a book — an old book, especially — for which there’s just NO information on the author beyond a name? For me that bothersome bit has LONG circulated around the works of Lizzie Selina Eden.

I first came across her book My Holiday in Austria – I just LOVED her stories and travels in a country that I loved. Gosh! how long ago: it was a book I interlibrary-loaned — in the summer of 2003! Now you can find it at several sites, including through a site I have contributed to in the past: A Celebration of Women Writers.

The illustration reads “Lauffen, near Ischl – from a drawing by the author.”

Published in 1869, My Holiday in Austria was a palm-sized book, with lovely marbled papers. I remember being SO enchanted with the cover, the end papers. VERY colorful! And the smooth, buttery feel of the leather. You don’t get that from an online copy.

I then interlibrary loaned another book she published, A Lady’s Glimpse of the Late War in Bohemia (1867) – and this one I worked to get online at A Celebration of Women’s Writers:

 Oh! how I wanted to know more about her. That Eden name; was she related to anyone “known”? It was early internet days; and she was just too obscure.

In Bohemia there were TANTALIZING clues to her identity:

  • On Whit Monday, the 21st of May, we dined…with my cousins, Mr. and Mrs. Eden. Mr. Eden was attaché at the English Embassy… (p 114)
  • ….I showed him my name on my passport, and asked him if he knew the gentleman of that designation, who was acting as Minister now for England in Dresden, as he was my cousin… (p 277)
  • Just as we had finished our dinner my cousin, Mr. C. Eden, with his pretty wife, drove up to see us and take leave. He was now acting as Chargé d’Affaires, as Sir C. Murray had left…. (p 290)

I could find a Sir Charles Murray — and wondered if a “Miss Eden” would have been writing him letters in 1847.  I wondered if she were any relation to George Eden, 2nd Baron Auckland. I wondered if her C. Eden would have been Charles Page Eden (1807-1885), or Charles Henry Eden (1839-1900) or someone totally different.

Further queries and observations:

  • really true (p. 3) that her family could call out “the horse guards or foreign secretary”??
  • sister marries in NICE (in the “little English church”) March or April 1866 (“last summer”).
  • sailed on the “Marco Polo” in “early April”, en route to Genoa.

I evidently knew she’d have been around 40-years-old in the mid-1860s, though it comes as a surprise now to learn that she was born in 1826.

Yes, after nearly ten years, I’ve appended Lizzie Selina Eden to a family tree!

Elizabeth, called Peg, was the eldest surviving daughter of Ann Maria Kelham (1792-1875) and her second husband Rev. Hon. William Eden (1792-1859). Indeed related to the Barons Auckland; and even writer Emily Eden, whose books I recently have re-read. Peg’s father and Emily Eden were cousins.

Lizzie Selina Eden died in 1899; the only notation is that she was buried in the “churchyard at Glemham, as are her brother Robert and sister Charlie.” GEDView gives dates for family weddings: sister Flora Jane Eden was the Bride in April 1866!

Finding Elizabeth Selina Eden online at The Peerage I see she was born 8 April 1826 (GEDView: at Beaksbourne, Kent) and died 20 August 1899, aged 73. NO mention of her books. Boo!


“My Holiday began on the hottest day
of the very hot June of the year 1868….”

— Lizzie Selina Eden, My Holiday in Austria (1869)


  1. Dawn said,

    You wrote:

    “Published in 1869, My Holiday in Austria was a palm-sized book, with lovely marbled papers. I remember being SO enchanted with the cover, the end papers. VERY colorful! And the smooth, buttery feel of the leather. You don’t get that from an online copy.”

    I can so relate to this piece in your write up, the holding of a lovely well made book, is a passion I share, and such a bonus when the content is just as delightful!. I am going to seek it out as I would love to read it.
    Thanks for interesting write ups. I look forward to reading more of them.

    • Janeite Kelly said,

      It’s been so long since I’ve read either book, but I found myself settling in with the first chapter of Holiday (I like the Internet Archive version). SUCH a different travel experience!


  2. Emily Reddon said,

    Hey there,
    Thanks for checking out The Matilda Project. It’s always great to find fellow book-lovers on the internet! I’m an Austenite myself and will be following from now on! :)

    • Janeite Kelly said,

      Hi, Emily — I agree; when it comes to books there are no boundaries!


  3. Sarah Luce said,

    I had a copy of ‘My Holiday in Austria’ passed down from my great grandmother, Lizzie’s cousin, but alas and alack it was lost in a fire.
    I am 84, so would not swear to it, but I think it had A.M Grey de Ruthyn
    inscribed inside, which would mean that Lizzie’s Mum gave it to her sister Ellen, my great great grandmother, or to her niece.

    • Janeite Kelly said,

      Hi, Sarah – ah a sad fate for the book, indeed. But what beautiful memories you have of once possessing it. I had traveled a couple of times to Austria, so was enchanted with the book – and the “history” it encompassed. Have you ever looked for an alternate copy – or was the association with your great-grandmother one of the important parts of the ownership? I think I made a xerox of the library copy I worked from when contributing to the online text site, “A Celebration of Women Writers” (this is the link for her _A Lady’s Glimpse of the Late War in Bohemia”: I’ll have to take a look. Sometimes there were several copies gifted to various family members. Maybe someone reading this will let us know if there is any “related” book out there.

      You must, though, have wonderful memories of your family.

      Lizzie Selina Eden seems not to have published a lot of books – but I have great fond memories of what she did publish.

      I’m so glad that you took the time to write!


  4. mollyweasley said,

    Does it seem to you as though a sister lived in the Bodenbach area? She seems very familiar with the area.

    • Janeite Kelly said,

      It’s been a LONG time since I’ve read any of Lizzie Selina Eden’s books. Not knowing her family tree at the time of reading several of them back to back, I might have presumed, at the very least, that she had travelled extensively. Certainly, in the period, it was unusual to STAY for quite some time (never mind, be from home for a lengthy time). She does ‘drop’ a few hints as to family, so if you follow-up, do drop me a line and let me know what you’ve found – whether about the sister or Lizzie herself.

      Thanks for your comment!

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