(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)


Ouida (WEED-uh) or Ouida Sebastyen, born at Bury St. Edmunds, England, in 1839, was the pseudonym of Marie Louise Ramée, daughter of a French language teacher and an Englishwoman. As a young woman Ouida changed her surname to what seemed to her the more romantic and dignified “de la Ramée.” The family background and childhood of Ouida are vague. Her father disappeared while she was still a child, and she and her mother, then in France, returned to England to take up residence in London. In 1860, just in her twenties, Ouida began to contribute fiction to Bentley’s Miscellany. Her stories were about glamorous, unreal, and romantic life, but they found an enthusiastic, even fascinated, body of readers, so that for a time Ouida was a very popular author. Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch was among the critics who praised her. Her first novel was Held in Bondage, her first real success Strathmore, and her best-known, and probably best work,Under Two Flags.{$S[A]Ramée, Marie Louise de la;Ouida}{$S[A]Sebastyen, Ouida;Ouida}

Ouida was one of the most sexually explicit female novelists of her time. In Strathmore, actress Marion Vavasour is a lord’s mistress. Overly proud of the power of her beauty, she poses erotically before a mirror. In Folle-Farine, an orphan uses the erotic power of her beauty to escape hardships in her grandfather’s house....

(The entire section is 553 words.)