Boyle, Mary Louisa I The Honble Miss Boyle l, 1810-1890, writer; daughter of Vice-Admiral the Hon. Sir Courtenay Boyle. For the most part privately educated, but attended a young ladies' school for about four years. Moved in sodal circle of the titled and the literary. Author of The State Prisoner and The Forester, novels influenced by those of G. P. R. James; Tangled Weft, two stories; The Bridal of Melcha, a drama in verse; a privately printed volume of poems dedicated to Landor; biographical notices of the portraits at Longleat and at other estates, privately printed. Her pleasant book of reminiscences, Mary Boyle, Her Book, published posthumously.
Miss Boyle met Dickens in 1849; thereafter she was often a guest of the Dickenses. Dickens thought her the best amateur actress that he had ever seen and was delighted to have her take part in his theatricals. Charles Lever, who credited himself with having trained Miss Boyle in the art of acting, called her "Dickens's prima donna" (Downey, Charles Lever, II, 83-84). Dickens carried on a flirtation with Miss Boyle, and she frequently presented him with little tokens of affection. The two became close friends. Dickens was grateful for her sympathetic and affectionate letters written at the time that "lies" were being circulated about him after his separation from his wife.
Dickens found "many things" in Miss Boyle's H.W. contribution [The Honble Miss Boyle & C.D. "My Mahogany Friend" II, 558-62. March 8, 1851] "very pretty." He was reluctant to say more, he wrote to her, Feb. 21, 1851., because of his "heavy sense ... of the responsibility of encouraging anyone to enter on that thorny track, where the prizes are so few and the blanks so many .... " The "thorny track" must refer to periodical writing; Miss Boyle, at the date of Dickens's letter, was already author of four books. Dickens devoted "a couple of hours" to revising her tedious story, attempting to lighten it and make it more compact. He had exercised "the pruning-knife," he wrote, "with the utmost delicacy and discretion" and hoped that she would read the revised version "with as loving an eye as I have truly tried to touch it with a loving and gentle hand."
Miss Boyle contributed at least one article to A.Y.R. – "Will You Take Madeira?", Sept. 16, 1865.
Author: Anne Lohrli; © University of Toronto Press, 1971.
Oxford Dictionary of National Biography