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At the Circulating Library

A Database of Victorian Fiction, 1837–1901

A Database of Victorian Fiction, 1837–1901

Author: Hannah Dorothy Burdon

Author: Hannah Dorothy Burdon (1800–1877)

Alternate Name(s): Wolfensberger (first married name); Schobinger (second married name); Lord B******* (pseudonym)

Biography: Hannah Dorothy Burdon was born on 15 July 1800 in Morpeth, Northumberland, the daughter of William Burdon (1764–1818) and Eliza Dickson (d. 1806). Her father inherited considerable estates in Durham and Northumberland and received a large income from coal mining. William Burdon was a learned man: a graduate and fellow of Emmanuel College, Cambridge (BA 1786, MA 1788), and author of numerous works on literature and politics. The family divided its time between Hartford House, the newly constructed family estate near Morpeth, and a London home in Cavendish Square. Little is known of Hannah Dorothy Burdon's childhood or education. Presumably, she lived comfortably and, judging by her later works, she received a significant education. One memorial of her father reveals, to his children, "he was an attentive parent; he took delight in their company, wrote books for their amusement, and personally superintended their education." At the age of thirty-five, she turned to fiction, publishing the first of eight historical novels, Seymour of Sudley: or, The Last of the Franciscans (1838), all of which appeared under her maiden or married name. On 26 August 1841, in London, she married the Swiss landscape painter Johann Jakob Wolfensberger (1797–1850) and later moved with him to the continent. After the death of her husband in 1850, she abandoned the historical novel for the social-problem novel, beginning with Masters and Workmen (1851). Inexplicably, for her latter six novels, she adopted the pseudonym "Lord B——" or "Lord B*******" and maintained a clean break between her former and later works since the title pages make no reference to her earlier novels. Due to this pseudonym, her later works were erroneously attributed to Frederick Richard Chichester, the Earl of Belfast. In the 1850s, Burdon remarried to Daniel Jerome Schobinger in Switzerland. Late in life, she allowed the newspaper in her birthplace, The Morpeth Herald, to serialize her novels. She died in 1877 in Switzerland.

References: DNB (William Burdon); Morpeth Herald (13 January 1877); Newcastle Journal (4 September 1841); Wellesley

Fiction Titles:

  1. Seymour of Sudley: or, The Last of the Franciscans.  3 vol.  London: Bentley, 1836.
  2. The Lost Evidence.  3 vol.  London: Saunders and Otley, 1838.
  3. The Friends of Fontainbleau.  3 vol.  London: Saunders and Otley, 1839.
  4. The Thirst for Gold.  3 vol.  London: T. and W. Boone, 1841.
  5. The Pope and the Actor: An Historical Novel.  3 vol.  London: T. C. Newby, 1842.
  6. The Forester's Daughter: A Tale of the Reformation.  3 vol.  London: T. C. Newby, 1844.
  7. The Ward of the Crown: A Historical Novel.  3 vol.  London: T. C. Newby, 1845.
  8. All Classes: A Novel.  3 vol.  London: T. C. Newby, 1847.
  9. Masters and Workmen: A Tale Illustrative of the Social and Moral Condition of the People.  3 vol.  London: T. C. Newby, 1851.
  10. The Farce of Life: A Novel.  3 vol.  London: T. C. Newby, 1852.
  11. Wealth and Labour: A Novel.  3 vol.  London: T. C. Newby, 1852.
  12. The County Magistrate: A Novel.  3 vol.  London: T. C. Newby, 1854.
  13. The Fate of Folly.  3 vol.  London: T. C. Newby, 1859.
  14. Uncle Armstrong: A Narrative.  3 vol.  London: T. C. Newby, 1866.