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Florence Wilson

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Published : 4 Articles
Pen Names : None
Date of Birth : N/A
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Daughter of Margaret Cornwell Baron-Wilson [neé Harries]. Miss Wilson's mother was known to both Dickens and Wills—to Dickens, as a contributor to Bentley's Micellany.; to Wills, in some way darkly hinted at by Vizetelly. Vizetelly (Glances Back through Seventy Years, I, 247) wrote that Wills had "drifted into literature" under the wing of Mrs. Wilson, "whose patronage he ill-requited in a fashion that imperilled his liberty", and that as a result "something like a cloud hung over him for several years afterwards".


Florence Wilson, according to her mother ("Stanzas to My Daughter, on Her Birth-day", A Volume of Lyrics), early showed her poetic temperament. Mrs. Wilson sent to Dickens some of her daughter's verses for publication in Bentley's Miscellany. Dickens was unable to use them for lack of space: "We are so very crowded that I cannot possibly avail myself of your daughter's lines" (Pilgrim Letters, I, 354). Miss Wilson contributed an occasional poem to Friendship's Offering and the Ladies' Companion; was author of Lyrics for Leisure Hours, 1842; Boudoir Lyrics, 1844. The beautifully printed and bound Boudoir Lyrics, with a picture of the elegant young authoress as frontispiece, was published by Smith, Elder & Co., Mrs. Wilson paying for the publication. "I want my daughter to marry", Mrs. Wilson confided to George Smith, "and it is a good thing for a girl to have a literary reputation" (HuxIey, House of Smith Elder, p. 34).

The first of Miss Wilson's H.W. contributions is prefaced by the editorial comment that the "fair Correspondent" had sent it from St. Petersburg. (The Office Book records payment as "Handed to Mrs. Wills to send to Miss F.W.") According to Sala (Life and Adventures, pp. 286-87), Miss Wilson was employed as "a governess in a noble family at St. Petersburg during the Crimean War" and was in Russia at the time that news of the first bombardment of Sebastopol reached the capital. Miss Wilson herself, in "Rencontres", stated that she left Russia in the summer of 1854 because of the War. In 1858 she made another trip to Russia. Later she resided in England; about 1865, stated Sala, she worked for a time as his amanuensis.

Author: Anne Lohrli; © University of Toronto Press, 1971.

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