Rosa Nouchette Carey 1840-1909
Rosa Nouchette Carey was born in London and grew up in Hackney. She was the 8th child and 4th daughter of a ship broker, William Henry Carey and his wife Maria Jane Wooddill (or Woodhill). She attended the Ladies' Institute in St John's Wood and retained from girlhood her High Church principles.
As a child she entertatined her siblings with improvised tales, wrote plays and poetry and started a magazine.
Her first published novel, Nellie's Memories (1868) was met with reviews that sneered at this babblingly autobiographical chronicle of an elder sister ("a weak girl of one and twenty") heroically replacing her dead mother. However, it sold over 50,000 copies.
As a girl she had "made a deliberate and as it afterwards proved, a fruitless attempt to quench the longing to write" and had "endeavoured to be more like other girls". As a woman of the 19th century with High Church beliefs it would have been very difficult for her to justify working for a living, or at least writing (which was not woman's work) without the necessity for it. However, her brother died leaving her the sole support of his six children. This left her with a free conscience but "The charge tied my hands...and prevented the pursuing of my literary labours as fully as I could otherwise have done".
She wrote around 40 domestic melodramas. Her best received novel was Not Like Other Girls published in 1884, in which three daughters and their widowed mother turn to dressmaking after the death of their father - a situation with some autobiographical connections.
Her fictional themes tend to revolve around the condition and anxieties of woman in her roles of mother, daughter, sister. Characters "without a single redeeming vice" as one commentator put it. Nevertheless, the narrative voice in several of her novels such as Only the Governess and Herb of Grace is male. However, he is only there to highlight the female characters.
As well as novels Rosa N Carey wrote short stories, many of which were published under the auspices of the Religious Tract Society (RTS), and serials for the Girl's Own Paper. She also had one book, Heriot's Choice published in Monthly Packet. This was Charlotte M Yonge's magazine and Carey's fiction shows the clear influence of Ms Yonge who was the most famous popular High Church female novelist.
Under the pseudonym of "Le Voleur" Rosa N Carey did produce a number of slightly racier novels including For Love of a Bedouin Maid (1897).
She lived in Hampstead for 39 years and then in Putney remaining unmarried, devoting herself to the care first of her widowed mother, then of various of her siblings and their children. She was a close friend of the writer Mrs Henry Wood and whilst in Putney she shared her house for some of the time with the children's writer Helen Marion Burnside.
- Black Helen C. Notable Women Authors of the Day: Biographical Sketches. Glasgow: Davie Bryce & Sons, 1893
- Crisp Jane (ed) Rosa Nouchette Carey (1840-1909). A Bibliography. Victorian Fiction Research Guides 16, 1989
- Shattock J. The Oxford Guide to British Women Writers. Oxford University Press, 1993
- Showalter E. A Literature of Their Own: From Charlotte Bronte to Doris Lessing. Virago Press Ltd, 1982 revised edition
- Sutherland J. The Longman Companion to Victorian Fiction. Longman Group UK Ltd, 1990
A number of Rosa N Carey’s books are dedicated to various members of her family.
- Nellie’s Memories: a domestic story (1868) To the memory of that beloved parent To whose affectionate scrutiny So many of the following pages were submitted, This simple story Is Dedicated By his sorrowing Daughter
- Barbara Heathcote’s Trial (1871) To My four sisters Who have been through joy and sorrow A fourfold blessing to my life This Story Is Dedicated
- She also dedicates one book “to my brothers” - not quite so effusively…
Here are a few examples of opening lines from her novelsBarbara Heathcote’s Trial (1871) Only Bab! Not dear Barbara, not even our Barbara, but only Bab!
Rue With a Difference (1900) “I must confess, my dear Margaret, that I do not understand Valerie - a complex personality like hers always baffles me” and here Mrs Hammond paused and stirred her tea daintily; she was much given to these staccato pauses; they were effective, and served to accentuate a point more clearly.
Nellie’s Memories (1868) I do not think there is a prettier room to be found in England than our drawing room at Sunnyside, and I know I would not change it and its dear old shabbiness and faded chintz covers for the most superb apartment in Belgravia.
A number of her novels have reviews printed at the end. Here are examples from one novelThe Household of Peter (1905)
WESTERN DAILY PRESS The well known authoress has a special aptitude for character drawing. This is again made manifest in The Household of Peter. And not only are the members of the “household” cleverly portrayed, without overstepping the bounds of naturalness, but they are skilfully manipulated, moving about in the domestic sphere in a manner that is as pleasing as it is effective.
WORLD Her novels are not remarkable for humour, but they are bright, pleasant, and not complicated, with the charm of thorough goodheartedness and never-failing refinement. It has been said of them somewhere that all the women in them are gentlewomen, whatever their station, and this is quite true.
I would love to read a short story by Rosa N Carey
I would love to read an essay about Hercules by Rosa N Carey
Click here to see a list of her works
I WOULD LIKE TO SEE A REVIEW OF "ONLY THE GOVERNESS"
See other featured authors: Mrs George Linnaeus Banks, Sir Walter Besant, Dutton Cook, Dinah Craik, Sarah Doudney, Ellen Thorneycroft Fowler, Mary E Hullah, Edna Lyall, Isabella Fyvie Mayo, William Edward Norris, GB Stuart, CEC Weigall.