Verse > Anthologies > Alfred H. Miles, ed. > Women Poets of the Nineteenth Century
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Alfred H. Miles, ed.  Women Poets of the Nineteenth Century.  1907.
 
Critical and Biographical Essay by Alfred H. Miles
Caroline Elizabeth Sarah (Sheridan) Norton (1808–1877)
 
CAROLINE ELIZABETH SARAH SHERIDAN, afterwards the Hon. Mrs. Norton, was the second daughter of Thomas Sheridan, and the granddaughter of Richard Brinsley Sheridan. Her mother, who was the daughter of Colonel Callendar, possessed great personal charms, and natural literary ability, which found exercise in the writing of novels. Caroline inherited many of her mother’s gifts and graces, together with the more brilliant qualities belonging to her father’s family, and was thus well equipped for both a fashionable and a literary career. Born in 1808, she spent some years after her father’s death with her mother and sisters at Hampton Court Palace, and later at a small mansion in Great George Street, near Storey’s Gate. When scarcely more than a child she was sought in marriage by Mr. George Norton, a younger brother of Lord Grantley, and in 1827 he married her. The marriage was a most unhappy one, and Mrs. Norton doubtless found some relief from her sorrows in the employment of her pen. She is said to have earned large sums by her writings, and for a long time to have provided the means for the family subsistence, as well as for her husband’s extravagances. These were the days of the “Annuals” with their covers of red silk and embellishments of steel engravings, and Mrs. Norton became both a contributor and an editor in this connection. Like her mother she wrote several novels, “Old Sir Douglas,” “Lost and Found,” etc., etc., novels which, in some instances, ran to several editions, and to these she added four volumes of verse: “The Sorrows of Rosalie” (1829); “The Undying One” (1831); “The Child of the Islands” (1845); “The Lady of la Garaye” (1861–2). Mrs. Norton’s work was not conceived in any dilettante spirit. It shows from first to last, that steady progress which only comes of conscientious application and continuous study. Her longer works lack the sustained interest which can alone make such poems permanently popular, but they contain stanzas which give felicitous expression to genuine feeling and ennobling thought. Lockhart, in the Quarterly, called her “the Byron of poetesses,” but, except for the connubial infelicity which withered both their lives, and the occasional expression of the emotions stirred by their common experience, the analogy cannot be said to hold good. Each, like Wordsworth’s nightingale, was “a creature of a fiery heart;” but Mrs. Norton was chastened and refined by the sufferings that irritated and degraded Byron.  1
  Mrs. Norton’s tender womanly feeling was everywhere evident in her life and work. Her sympathy with the poor and the suffering was keen and constant.  2
 
 
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