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At the Circulating Library

A Database of Victorian Fiction, 1837–1901

A Database of Victorian Fiction, 1837–1901

Author: Dorothy Leighton

Author: Dorothy Leighton (1856–1943)

Alternate Name(s): (pseudonym); Ethel Mary Forsyth (legal name); Jonson (married name)

Biography: Ethel Mary Forsyth was born in 1856 in Umballa, India, the daughter of Sir Thomas Douglas Forsyth and Alice Plumer. Her father was in the diplomatic service in India and was an envoy to the king of Burma—after his death in 1886, she edited and published his autobiography. By the 1880s, the family had moved back to England. In 1894, she married stockbroker and music writer George Charles Ashton Jonson. The couple launched themselves into literary life, befriending other writers such as Arthur Conan Doyle. She wrote two New Woman novels As a Man is Able (1893) and Disillusion (1894) under the pseudonym "Dorothy Leighton." The following year, she joined J. T. Grein as co-director of the Independent Theatre where her play Thyrza Fleming was produced in 1895. The theatre featured realistic dramas in the vein of Ibsen and she went on to write and produce several other plays. Her husband died in 1930 and she followed in 1943. (NB: Several sources erroneously identify the pseudonym "Dorothy Leighton" as "Dorothy Forsyth.")

Author Tags:

References: British Census (1881, 1901); G. C. Ashton Jonson, "A London Theatre Libre," The Drama (February 1911); Morning Chronicle (8 April 1856); Times (21 Decembrer 1886, 13 January 1930, 13 August 1943); Who's Who in Music (1915)

Fiction Titles:

  1. As a Man is Able: A Study in Human Relationships.  3 vol.  London: William Heinemann, 1893.
  2. Disillusion: A Story with a Preface.  3 vol.  London: Henry, 1894.