Authors: Ouida

  • Last updated on December 10, 2021

English novelist

Author Works

Long Fiction:

Held in Bondage: Or, Granville de Vigne, 1863

Strathmore, 1865

Chandos, 1866

Tricotrin, 1866

Idalia, 1867

Under Two Flags, 1867

Folle-Farine, 1871

Pascarel, 1873

Two Little Wooden Shoes, 1874

Signa, 1875

Ariadne, 1877

Moths, 1880

A Village Commune, 1881

In Maremma, 1882

Othmar, 1885

The Tower of Taddeo, 1892

The Massarenes, 1897

The Waters of Edera, 1899

Short Fiction:

Beatrice Boville, and Other Stories, 1867

Randolph Gordon, and Other Stories, 1867

A Dog of Flanders, and Other Stories, 1872

Pipistrello, and Other Stories, 1880

La Strega, and Other Stories, 1899

Nonfiction:

Views and Opinions, 1895

Critical Studies, 1900

Biography

Ouida (WEED-uh) or Ouida Sebastyen, born at Bury St. Edmunds, England, in 1839, was the pseudonym of Marie Louise Ramée, daughter of a French language teacher and an Englishwoman. As a young woman Ouida changed her surname to what seemed to her the more romantic and dignified “de la Ramée.” The family background and childhood of Ouida are vague. Her father disappeared while she was still a child, and she and her mother, then in France, returned to England to take up residence in London. In 1860, just in her twenties, Ouida began to contribute fiction to Bentley’s Miscellany. Her stories were about glamorous, unreal, and romantic life, but they found an enthusiastic, even fascinated, body of readers, so that for a time Ouida was a very popular author. Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch was among the critics who praised her. Her first novel was Held in Bondage, her first real success Strathmore, and her best-known, and probably best work, Under Two Flags.{$I[AN]9810000084}{$I[A]Ouida}{$S[A]Ramée, Marie Louise de la;Ouida}{$S[A]Sebastyen, Ouida;Ouida}{$I[geo]WOMEN;Ouida}{$I[geo]ENGLAND;Ouida}{$I[tim]1839;Ouida}

Ouida was one of the most sexually explicit female novelists of her time. In Strathmore, actress Marion Vavasour is a lord’s mistress. Overly proud of the power of her beauty, she poses erotically before a mirror. In Folle-Farine, an orphan uses the erotic power of her beauty to escape hardships in her grandfather’s house. Ouida’s self-determined heroines are always aware of their sexuality.

Even as a child, Ouida, as she preferred to be called even in private life, was egocentric. She displayed an unusual propensity for falling in love, a trait which caused her unhappiness, for her love was often unrequited, and probably led to the misanthropy which she made so obvious in later life. Once successful, Ouida tried to make herself into a great lady. She moved to Florence, Italy, and purchased a large house. By nearly all accounts she became an irritating (even despicable) personality, insulting her friends, her acquaintances, and her publishers. In 1894 she moved to Lucca, Italy, to live on a more lavish scale than ever, with no attention to the expense of her way of life. Her declining popularity as an author cost her the large income she once had, and the last decade of her life she spent almost in poverty. Her only real income in that time was a small pension from the British government. In old age she suffered from blindness in one eye and painful illness. She died in Viareggio, Italy, in 1908 and was buried in that country. Although adults have almost forgotten her work, children still enjoy such stories as Two Little Wooden Shoes and A Dog of Flanders.

BibliographyGilbert, Pamela K. Disease, Desire, and the Body in Victorian Women’s Popular Novels. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1997.Hughes, Winifred. The Maniac in the Cellar: Sensation Novels of the 1860’s. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1980.Mitchell, Sally. The Fallen Angel: Chastity, Class, and Women’s Reading, 1835-1880. Bowling Green, Ohio: Bowling Green University Popular Press, 1981.Monseau, Virginia R. Presenting Ouida Sebestyen. New York: Twayne, 1995.Schroeder, Natalie. “Feminine Sensationalism, Eroticism, and Self-Assertion: M. E. Braddon and Ouida.” Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature 7 (Spring, 1988).Showalter, Elaine. A Literature of Their Own: British Women Novelists from Brontë to Lessing. Rev. ed. London: Virago, 1982.
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