Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Cameron, Lucy Lyttelton

CAMERON, LUCY LYTTELTON (1781–1858), writer of religious tales for children, was born 29 April 1781, at Stanford-on-Teme, Worcestershire, of which place her father, George Butt, D.D. [q. v.], was the vicar. Her mother was Martha Sherwood, daughter of a London silk merchant. Mrs. Cameron was the youngest of three children—John Marten, Mary Martha (the well-known authoress, Mrs. Sherwood [q. v.]), and Lucy Lyttelton. She took her baptismal name from her godmother, Lady Lucy Fortescue Lyttelton, daughter of George, the first lord Lyttelton—‘the good lord’—who married Viscount Valentia, afterwards Earl Mountnorris. On Dr. Butt's death, in 1795, Mrs. Butt and her two daughters went to live at Bridgnorth.

Mrs. Cameron's early education was conducted by her parents. She was a precocious child, beginning Latin at seven years of age, mastering French so as to be able to write and think in it with almost the same facility as in English, and afterwards studying Italian and Greek. She speaks at a later period of having finished reading the ‘Iliad.’ At eleven years of age she went to school at Reading, where she continued till she was sixteen. From her earliest years she had the advantage of intercourse with cultivated and intellectual society. Gerrard Andrewes [q. v.], dean of Canterbury and rector of St. James's, Piccadilly, was a connection by marriage, and on her visit to his rectory she was introduced to London society of the best kind, making the acquaintance of Elizabeth Carter [q. v.] and Humphry Davy, then only known as ‘a young man of promise.’ Visiting Bristol, she was introduced to Mrs. Hannah More, Miss Galton (afterwards Mrs. Schimmelpenninck), and other members of the literary coteries of that city. In 1806 she married the Rev. C. R. Cameron, of Christ Church, Oxford, the eldest son of Dr. Cameron (of the Lochiel family), a celebrated physician at Worcester. Shortly after her marriage her husband was appointed to a church at Donnington Wood, in the parish of Lilleshall, Shropshire, recently built on the estate of Lord Stafford for the colliers of the district, their residence being at Snedshill. Here she and her husband remained for twenty-five years, devoting themselves with unremitting labour, and with the happiest results, to the moral and spiritual improvement of their rude parishioners. While at Snedshill she became the mother of twelve children, the greater part of whom died before her. In 1831 Mr. Cameron accepted the living of Swaby, near Alford, in Lincolnshire, but continued to reside at Snedshill, serving his old parish as curate till 1836, when he moved to Louth, and finally, on the completion of a rectory, settled at Swaby in 1839. While visiting the Lakes, in 1856, Mrs. Cameron was surprised by a storm on Ulleswater, and caught a cold from which she never recovered, and died on 6 Sept. 1858, and was buried at Swaby. Mrs. Cameron's life was the quiet, laborious, unpretending one of a clergyman's wife, and the devoted mother of a large family. Her fame rests on her religious tales and allegories, written chiefly for the young. Of these Dr. Arnold was a warm admirer. He writes: ‘The knowledge and the love of Christ can nowhere be more readily gained by young children than from some of the short stories of Mrs. Cameron, such as “Amelia,” the “Two Lambs,” the “Flower Pot”’ (Arnold, Sermons, i. 45). She commenced authorship at an early age. ‘Margaret White’ was written when she was only seventeen, and she continued her literary work more or less all through her life. The ‘Two Lambs’ was written in 1803, but not published till 1827. In 1816 she began to compose penny books for the poor and ignorant. Her stories were often based on real events, and describe the scenes with which she was familiar, to which the naturalness and graphic power which form the charm of her simple stories are mainly due. Mrs. Cameron's fame as a writer has been rather overshadowed by that of her elder sister, Mrs. Sherwood. The younger sister's writings are often attributed to the elder, and Mrs. Cameron, who is in some respects the better authoress, is consequently less known than she deserves to be. She wrote rapidly. One of her best known little books, ‘The Raven and the Dove,’ occupied her only four hours. A complete list of Mrs. Cameron's publications is prefixed to the second edition of her life, by her son, the Rev. G. T. Cameron. Besides those already mentioned, the best known are ‘Emma and her Nurse,’ ‘Martin and his Two Sunday Scholars,’ ‘The Bright Shilling,’ and ‘The Pink Tippet.’

[Memoir by the Rev. G. T. Cameron, 1862 (2nd edit. 1873); Autobiography of Mrs. Sherwood.]

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