Archive for March 14th, 2012
During her career, she wrote more than 40 novels, children’s books and collections of short stories and essays. She was an animal lover and rescuer, and at times owned as many as thirty dogs. For many years she lived in London, but about 1874 she moved to Italy, where she remained until her death in 1908.
Sensational, romantic, sentimental, and eccentric as her self-coined name “Ouida” would indicate, Marie Louise de la Ramée considered herself a serious artist. She was inspired by Byron in particular, and was interested in other artists of all kinds. There were politicians,soldiers and literary lights (including Oscar Wilde, Algernon Swinburne, Robert Browning and Wilkie Collins), and artists (including John Millais). Many of her stories and characters were based upon people she invited to these salons at The Langham.
Of short stature “sinister, clever face” and with a “voice like a carving knife” (William Allingham’s diary 1872), she moved into the Langham Hotel, London in 1867, where she wrote in bed, by candlelight, with the curtains drawn and surrounded by purple flowers.
Although successful, she did not manage her money well and was poor when she died of pneumonia on 25 January 1908, in Viareggio, Italy. She is buried in the English Cemetery in Bagni di Lucca, Italy.
Soon after her death, a public subscription purchased and built a fountain for horses and dogs in Bury St Edmunds, with an inscription composed by Lord Curzon: “Her friends have erected this fountain in the place of her birth. Here may God’s creatures whom she loved assuage her tender soul as they drink.”
Thirty years after her death Ouida had become merely one in a series of “Eccentric Englishwomen” described by Rose Macaulay, who depicted the once-popular and wealthy author as “[a] fool; a grandiose and vanity-devoured egotist; a ridiculous writer; eccentric in (as Henry James put it) a common, little way.”
One of her most famous novels, Under Two Flags, described the British in Algeria and expressed sympathy for the French—with whom Ouida deeply identified—and, to some extent, the Arabs. This book was adapted in plays (it was also adapted and produced four times as a film). As another sign of influence, the American author Jack London cited her novel Signa, which he read at age eight, as one of the eight reasons for his literary success.(ack:bookrags,wikipedia)