The American Cyclopædia (1879)/Lee, Sophia
LEE. I. Sophia, an English authoress, born in London in May, 1750, died at Clifton, near Bristol, March 13, 1824. She was the daughter of an actor, who was originally a lawyer, and made her first appearance before the public in 1780 as the author of a comedy entitled “The Chapter of Accidents,” which was brought out at the Haymarket theatre with great success. In the succeeding year she removed with her sisters to Bath, where she devoted the profits of her play to the establishment of a young ladies' seminary, over which she and her sister Harriet presided for many years. In 1785 she published “The Recess,” a historical tale of a rather sombre character, which attained considerable popularity, and which was followed by “Almeyda,” a tragedy, performed with moderate success; “The Life of a Lover,” a novel in 6 vols.; and an unsuccessful comedy, “The Assignation.” She also furnished “The Young Lady's Tale” and “The Clergyman's Tale” to the series of “Canterbury Tales,” written by her sister Harriet and herself, which are considered her best productions. She gave up her seminary in 1803, and passed the remainder of her life in retirement. Her conversational powers were remarkable. II. Harriet, sister of the preceding, born in London in 1756, died at Clifton, Aug. 1, 1851. Her first appearance as an authoress took place in 1786, when she published “The Errors of Innocence,” a novel in 5 vols., succeeded by several others now forgotten. In 1797 appeared the first volume of the “Canterbury Tales,” followed at intervals of a few years by four others under the same title, the contents of which were for the most part of her composition. They enjoyed a great popularity in the early part of the century; and a new edition was published in New York in 1856-'7 (3 vols. 12mo). One of the most remarkable is “The German's Tale: Kruitzner,” from which Lord Byron borrowed not merely the plot and the machinery down to the most trivial incidents, but in some instances the language, of his “Werner.” She also produced two dramas, “The New Peerage” and “The Three Strangers,” the latter of which failed at Covent Garden in 1835.