Page:Dictionary of National Biography, Second Supplement, volume 3.djvu/301

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Sergeant
Sergeant
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1904. His remains were cremated and interred at Golder's Green. He married in 1870 Elizabeth Sophia, daughter of Henry Calverley, vicar of South Stoke, and prebendary of Wells. He left no issue. A bust was executed by Edward Lantéri. A memorial bronze has been placed in the chapel of St. Michael and St. George in St. Paul's Cathedral.

[Who's Who, 1903; C. O. List, 1903; The Times, 17 March 1904; private information; personal knowledge.]

C. A. H.

SERGEANT, ADELINE (1851–1904), novelist, whose full Christian names were Emily Frances Adeline, born at Ashbourne, Derbyshire, on 4 July 1851, was second daughter of Richard Sergeant by his wife Jane, daughter of Thomas Hall, a Wesleyan minister. The father came of a Lincolnshire family, long settled at Melton Ross, which in the eighteenth century revival embraced dissent of a pronounced and political type. He began lay preaching as a lad, was accepted as a candidate for the Wesleyan ministry at seventeen, and sent to the Hoxton Institution under Dr. Jabez Bunting [q. v.]. He spent six years in Jamaica, married in 1840, abandoned missionary work and became a travelling preacher. He issued 'Letters from Jamaica' (1843), and with the Rev. R. Williams, a 'Compendium of the History and Polity of Methodism,' with other Wesleyan tracts and sermons. His wife, under the name 'Adeline,' wrote many evangelical lays and stories as well as 'Scenes in the West Indies and Other Poems' (1843; 2nd edit. 1849) and 'Stray Leaves' (1855).

Adeline Sergeant was thus brought up amid much literary and spiritual activity. At first educated by her mother, she was sent at thirteen to a school at Weston-super-Mare. At fifteen a volume of her poems was published (1866) with an introduction by 'Adeline'; it was noticed favourably in Wesleyan periodicals. From 'Laleham,' the nonconformist school at Clapham, the girl went to Queen's College, London, with a presentation from the Grovemesses' Benevolent Institution, and she won a scholarship there.

On her father's death in 1870 she joined the Church of England, and for the greater part of ten years was governess in the family of Canon Bum-Murdoch at Riverhead, Kent. After some minor literary experiments she in 1882 won a prize of 100l., offered by the 'People's Friend' of Dundee, with a novel, 'Jacobi's Wife,' which she wrote while she was visiting Egypt with her friends. Professor and Mrs. Sheldon Amos. The work appeared serially in the paper and was published in London in 1887. By agreement with the proprietors of the 'People's Friend,' John Leng & Co., she was a regular contributor until her death, and gave the firm for a time exclusive serial rights in her stories. She wrote at great speed and two or three novels ran serially every year through the Dundee newspaper. For two years (1885-7) she lived in Dundee.

From 1887 to 1901 her home was in Bloomsbury, where, while busily engaged on fiction, she took an active part in humanitarian efforts, such as rescue work and girls' clubs; she also joined the Fabian Society and travelled much abroad, spending the spring of 1899 in Palestine. Her religious opinions underwent various developments. Her best novel, 'No Saint' (1886), reflects a phase of agnosticism. From 1893 she associated herself with the extreme ritualists at St. Alban's, Holborn, and on 23 Oct. 1899 was received into the Roman catholic church. The processes of thought she described in 'Roads to Rome, being Personal Records of some … Converts,' with an introduction by Cardinal Vaughan (1901). She removed to Bournemouth in 1901, and died there on 4 Dec. 1904.

Miss Sergeant wrote over ninety novels and tales. Her fertility, which prejudiced such literary power as she possessed, grew with her years (cf. Punch, 11 Nov. 1903, p. 338). Six novels appeared annually from 1901 to 1903, and eight in her last year. After her death fourteen volumes, seven in 1905, four in 1906, two in 1907, and one in 1908, presented work which had not been previously published. She often made an income of over 1000l. a year, but her generous and unbusinesslike temperament kept her poor.

Miss Sergeant, who was most successful in drawing the middle-class provincial nonconformist home, is seen to advantage in 'Esther Denison' (1889) (partly autobiographical), in 'The Story of a Penitent Soul' (anon. 1892), and in 'The Idol Maker' (1897). Other of her works are:

  1. 'Beyond Recall,' 1882; 2nd edit. 1883.
  2. 'Under False Pretences,' 1892; 2nd edit. 1899.
  3. 'The Surrender of Margaret Bellarmine,' 1894.
  4. 'The Story of Phil Enderby,' 1898, 1903.
  5. 'In Vallombrosa,' dedicated to Leader Scott, 1897.
  6. 'This Body of Death,' 1901.
  7. 'A Soul Apart,' her one catholic novel, 1902.
  8. 'Anthea's Way,' 1903.
  9. 'Beneath the Veil,' 1903, 1905.

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