Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Gore, Catherine Grace Frances

GORE, Mrs. CATHERINE GRACE FRANCES (1799–1861), novelist and dramatist, daughter of C. Moody, a wine merchant, was born in 1799 at East Retford, Nottinghamshire, but there is no entry of her baptism in the church of England register at that place. At an early age she exhibited literary genius, and was called by her young companions 'The Poetess.' She composed a concluding canto to 'Childe Harold,' which with another poem, entitled 'The Graves of the North,' received great commendation from Joanna Baillie, but were never printed. On 15 Feb. 1823 she married, at St. George's, Hanover Square, Captain Charles Arthur Gore, who was gazetted cornet and sub-lieutenant of the 1st life guards 8 Nov. 1819, lieutenant and captain 1822, and retired from the service in 1823.

From the time of her marriage Mrs. Gore was actively engaged in writing and publishing. Her first printed work is said to have been a poem called 'The Two Broken Hearts,' which was followed in 1824 by her first novel, 'Theresa Marchmont, or the Maid of Honour.' In 1826 a work named 'Richelieu, or the Broken Heart,' an historical tale, was generally attributed to Mrs. Gore. Then came 'The Lettre de Cachet' in 1827. In 1831 she commenced her career as a dramatist by producing at the Haymarket Theatre, London, a five-act comedy called 'The School for Coquettes,' which had a brilliant run of thirty nights. Her play of 'Lords and Commons,' a superior production, was coldly received at Drury Lane, and withdrawn after a few nights' representation. To these she added in 1835 two comedies, 'The King's Seal' and 'King O'Neil,' besides two pieces imitated from the French, 'The Queen's Champion' and 'The Maid of Croissy.' In 1827 she became well known as a musical composer. Her original melody to the words of Burns, 'And ye shall walk in silk attire,' the song of the highland chief beginning 'Welcome, welcome,' and the ballad 'The Three Long Years,' were among the favourite songs of the day. With her husband and family she went to France in 1832, where she resided for some years, and it was not until 1836 that her next good novel appeared, entitled 'Mrs. Armytage, or Female Domination.' Year by year she now brought out several volumes. In 1841 was published 'Cecil, or the Adventures of a Coxcomb,' which produced a great sensation. In it is displayed a considerable knowledge of the London clubs, for which she was indebted to William Beckford, the author of 'Vathek.' Her next best novel, published in 1843, was 'The Banker's Wife,' dedicated to her guardian, Sir John Dean Paul, bart. It is a curious fact that in this work there is described such a dishonest banker as Paul himself afterwards proved to be. By the bankruptcy of Strahan, Paul, & Bates, on 11 June 1855, Mrs. Gore lost 20,000l. Many of her novels appeared anonymously. Two of her novels, appearing in the same week, were actually made to oppose each other in the market. Her writings are characterised by great cleverness in invention, lively satire, shrewd insight into character, and keen observation of life. Their popularity at the time was great, and they possess historic value as a faithful picture of the life and pursuits of the English upper classes during a particular period. George IV observed respecting ‘The Manners of the Day, or Women as they are,’ that it was ‘the best bred and most amusing novel published in his remembrance.’ Thackeray satirised Mrs. Gore in ‘Punch.’ One of his ‘Novels by Eminent Hands,’ ‘Lords and Liveries, by the authoress of “Dukes and Déjeûners,” “Hearts and Diamonds,” “Marchionesses and Milliners,”’ ingeniously mimicked the romance of high society and fashionable life with which she kept the circulating libraries supplied.

Benjamin Webster, the lessee of the Haymarket Theatre, London, in 1843 offered a prize of 500l. for a new and original English comedy, to be selected by a committee. Ninety-seven works were sent in, and the prize was awarded to Mrs. Gore for ‘Quid pro Quo, or the Days of Dupes.’ The piece was produced on Tuesday, 18 June 1844, and, although received with storms of disapproval, was played during five weeks, but was never again acted (The Theatre, August 1882, pp. 65–74). About 1850 she succeeded to considerable property, through the death of a relative, and henceforth her pen was less active. Latterly she was afflicted by loss of sight, and lived in complete retirement, after having written about seventy works, extending to nearly two hundred volumes. She died at Linwood, Lyndhurst, Hampshire, 29 Jan. 1861, aged 61, and was buried in Kensal Green cemetery on 7 Feb. Of her ten children only two survived her, Captain Augustus Wentworth Gore, and Cecilia Anne Mary Gore, who on 4 July 1853 married Lord Edward Thynne, M.P. for Frome, and died 31 May 1879.

The following is a list of Mrs. Gore's writings: 1. ‘Theresa Marchmont, or the Maid of Honour,’ 1824. 2. ‘The Bond,’ a dramatic poem, 1824. 3. ‘Richelieu, or the Broken Heart,’ 1826, attributed to Mrs. Gore. 4. ‘Lettre de Cachet’ and ‘The Reign of Terror’ (anon.), 1827. 5. ‘Hungarian Tales,’ 1829. 6. ‘Romance of Real Life,’ 1829. 7. ‘The Manners of the Day, or Women as they are,’ 1830. 8. ‘Pin Money,’ 1831. 9. ‘The Tuileries,’ 1831. 10. ‘Mothers and Daughters’ (anon.), 1831. 11. ‘The Historical Traveller, comprising narratives connected with European History,’ 1831. 12. ‘The Fair of May Fair’ (anon.), 1832. 13. ‘The Opera,’ 1832. 14. ‘The Sketch-Book of Fashion,’ 1833. 15. ‘Polish Tales,’ 1833. 16. ‘The Hamiltons, or the New Era,’ 1834. 17. ‘The Maid of Croissy,’ a drama, 1835. 18. ‘King O'Neil,’ a comedy, 1835. 19. ‘The Diary of a Désennuyée’ (anon.), 1836. 20. ‘Mrs. Armytage, or Female Domination,’ 1836. 21. ‘Picciola, or Captivity Captive,’ by X. B. Saintine, said to be translated by Mrs. Gore, 1837. 22. ‘Memoirs of a Peeress in the Days of Fox’ (anon.), ed. by Lady Charlotte Bury, 1837. 23. ‘Stokeshill Place, or the Man of Business,’ 1837. 24. ‘The Heir of Selwood,’ 1838. 25. ‘Mary Raymond and other Tales,’ 1838. 26. ‘The Rose Fancier's Manual,’ 1838. 27. ‘The Cabinet Minister,’ 1839. 28. ‘The Courtier of the Days of Charles II, with other Tales,’ 1839. 29. ‘A Good Night's Rest,’ a farce, 1839. 30. ‘Dacre of the South, or the Olden Time,’ a drama, 1840. 31. ‘The Dowager, or the New School for Scandal,’ 1840. 32. ‘Preferment, or My Uncle the Earl,’ 1840. 33. ‘Cecil, or the Adventures of a Coxcomb’ (anon.), 1841. 34. ‘Cecil a Peer,’ a sequel to ‘Cecil,’ 1841. 35. ‘Greville, or a Season in Paris,’ 1841. 36. ‘The Soldier of Lyons, a Tale of the Tuileries,’ 1841. 37. ‘The Lover and the Husband,’ edited by Mrs. Gore, 1841. 38. ‘The Woman of a Certain Age,’ &c., ed. by Mrs. Gore, 1841. 39. ‘The Ambassador's Wife,’ 1842. 40. ‘Fascination and other Tales,’ ed. by Mrs. Gore, 1842. 41. ‘The Man of Fortune,’ 1842. 42. ‘Modern French Life,’ tales translated from the French, ed. by Mrs. Gore, 1842. 43. ‘The Banker's Wife,’ 1843. 44. ‘The Inundation, a Christmas Story,’ with illustrations by G. Cruikshank, 1843. 45. ‘Modern Chivalry, or the New Orlando Furioso,’ with illustrations by G. Cruikshank, 1843. 46. ‘The Money-Lender,’ 1843. 47. ‘Quid pro Quo,’ a comedy, 1844. 48. ‘Agathonia,’ a romance, 1844. 49. ‘The Birthright and other Tales,’ 1844. 50. ‘The Popular Member, The Wheel of Fortune,’ &c., 1844. 51. ‘Self’ (anon.), 1845. 52. ‘The Snow Storm, a Christmas Story,’ with illustrations by G. Cruikshank, 1845. 53. ‘The Story of a Royal Favourite,’ 1845. 54. ‘The Débutante, or the London Season,’ 1846. 55. ‘New Year's Day, a Winter's Tale,’ 1846. 56. ‘Peers and Parvenus,’ 1846. 57. ‘Sketches of English Character,’ 1846. 58. ‘The Queen of Denmark, an historical novel,’ 1846. 59. ‘Men of Capital,’ 1846. 60. ‘Castles in the Air,’ 1847. 61. ‘Temptation and Atonement, and other Tales,’ 1847. 62. ‘The Diamond and the Pearl,’ 1848. 63. ‘The Dean's Daughter, or the Days we live in,’ 1853. 64. ‘The Lost Son, a Winter's Tale,’ 1854. 65. ‘Progress and Prejudice,’ 1854. 66. ‘Mammon, or the Hardships of an Heiress,’ 1855. 67. ‘A Life's Lesson,’ 1856. 68. ‘The Two Aristocracies,’ 1857. 69. ‘Heckington,’ a novel, 1858. 70. ‘The Royal Favourite,’ 1862. In ‘The Edinburgh Tales,’ 1845, volumes i. ii. iii., she wrote—‘The Maid of Honour,’ ‘The Balsam Seller of Thurotzer and The Hungarian Maiden,’ and ‘The Tavernicus Presentment;’ in ‘The Tales of all Nations,’ 1827—‘The Abbey of Leach;’ in ‘Heath's Picturesque Annual,’ 1832—‘Britain and Ireland;’ in ‘The Tale Book,’ 1859—‘Sir Roger de Coverley's Picture Gallery.’ Besides the plays already mentioned she also wrote ‘The Tale of a Tub,’ ‘The Sledge Driver,’ and others taken from the French.

[Gent. Mag. March 1861, pp. 345–6; Times, 4 Feb. 1861, p. 5; New Monthly Mag. (1837), xlix. pt. i. 434–5, with portrait, and (1852) xci. 157–8; R. H. Horne's New Spirit of the Age (1844), i. 232–9; Sarah J. Hale's Woman's Record (1855), pp. 676–80, with portrait; Illustrated London News, 16 Feb. 1861, p. 147, with portrait.]

G. C. B.