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!
- A Lady’s Glimpse of the Late War in Bohemia (1867): Celebration of Women Writers; Books.Google; Internet Archive
- My Holiday in Austria (1869): Hathai Trust; Books.Google; Internet Archive
- Fairy Fancies. From the German (1870): Hathai Trust; Books.Google; Internet Archive
“My Holiday began on the hottest day
of the very hot June of the year 1868….”
— Lizzie Selina Eden, My Holiday in Austria (1869)