Monday, December 30, 2013

Meet Marie Corelli

This blog has hitherto been incomplete without the inclusion of she, who outsold all of her contemporaries combined, Marie Corelli.

Born Mary Mackay, Corelli was the love child of a Scottish poet/songwriter, called Dr. Charles Mackay, and his servant, Elizabeth Mills. After receiving her education in a Parisian convent, Corelli returned to Britain at age 15 and followed in her father’s footsteps by beginning her career in music.

She took the name Corelli for the stage and used it as her nom de plume, beginning with her first novel, A Romance of Two Worlds (1886). It quickly became a household name, as she grew to be the most widely-read author of fiction, counting Winston Churchill and members of the Royal Family, as avid collectors of her work.

Of course, her contemporaries criticized her work the way that we criticize most popular fiction today. Mark Twain notoriously despised her, until they met. Basically, if everyone wants to read it, it must be trash. But her plots and themes explored topics that fascinated the late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century reading public.

Possibly because of its sentimentality and rootedness in its own time and place, Corelli’s work isn’t as widely studied as the literati, who snubbed her. Biographers speculate about Corelli’s sexuality because she never married, but lived for over 40 years with a female companion, and descriptions of female beauty in her work border on the erotic. However, Corelli was also somewhat infatuated with the artist, Arthur Severn.

Use the links below to download her work for free and learn what all of the fuss was about.

A Romance of Two Worlds (1886)
Vendetta!; or, The Story of One Forgotten (1886)
Thelma (1887)
Ardath (1889)
Wormwood: A Drama of Paris (1890)
The Soul of Lilith (1892)
Barabbas, A Dream of the Word's Tragedy (1893)
The Sorrows of Satan (1895)
The Mighty Atom (1896)
The Murder of Delicia (1896)
Ziska (1897)
Boy (1900)
Jane (1900)
The Master-Christian (1900)
Temporal Power: a Study in Supremacy (1902)
God's Good Man (1904)
Treasure of Heaven (1906)
Holy Orders, The Tragedy of a Quiet Life (1908)
Life Everlasting (1911)
Innocent, Her Fancy and His Fact (1914)
The Young Diana (1918)
The Secret Power (1921)

This is by no means a complete list of her works, just the novels that I could find links to free eBooks for.

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