Marie Adelaide Belloc Lowndes was born in the summer of 1868 into a family renowned for its literary, social, and scientific achievements. Her parents, both nearing forty at the time of her birth, had already distinguished themselves in their respective careers, her French father, Louis Belloc, in law, and her English mother, Bessie Raynor Parkes, as a leader in the fight for women’s rights. Bessie Parkes was also the editor of one of the first women’s magazines in Great Britain. Lowndes’s French grandmother had translated Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1882), and her maternal great-great-grandfather was J. B. Priestley, the discoverer of oxygen. Her younger brother, Hilaire Belloc, was the well-known novelist and poet.
The bilingual Lowndes considered herself to be French, even though she was born and later died in England, wrote in English, and lost her French father during her early childhood. She had little formal schooling, except for two years in a convent school, but claimed to have begun writing at the age of sixteen. Her familial connections brought her in contact with the important figures of the day, and her literary career began with sketches of famous writers such as Jules Verne that were published in magazines such as The Strand. In 1896, she married the journalist and writer Frederic Sawrey Lowndes. They had two daughters and a son.
At the beginning of her literary career, Lowndes was...
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