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At the Circulating Library

A Database of Victorian Fiction, 1837–1901

A Database of Victorian Fiction, 1837–1901

Author: Mary Ann Seamer

Author: Mary Ann Seamer (1841–1909)

Alternate Name(s): Wheeler (maiden name); Mary Frances Corbet Seymour (alternate name)

Biography: Mary Ann Seamer was born on 2 February 1841 in Ilford, Essex, the daughter of merchant Edmund John Wheeler and his wife Ann Baker. According to her application to the Royal Literary Fund, she was "the child of a luxurious house" who began writing stories to entertain her dolls. On 27 September 1862, she married Frederick Thomas Seamer and the couple had one daughter born in 1868. In 1869, her husband died leaving the widow his debts. To augment the support from her wealthy father-in-law, she turned to writing, mainly children's books published anonymously by the Religious Tract Society. Her best known work appears to be Shakespeare's Stories Simply Told (1880) which went through several editions. After the death of her father-in-law in 1881, she was forced to sell her London home, move to France for the sake of economy, and apply to the RLF. In spite of being the author of dozens of books and a frequent contributor to magazines, the RLF deemed her application lacking in literary merit. By the mid-1880s, she published under the name "Mrs. Seymour" and had moved to Belgium living for times in Bruges and Ostend. By 1894, she renamed herself "Mary Frances Corbet Seymour", the origin of which remains unknown but not due to marriage. She once again applied to the RLF, this time under her new name while carefully omitting the works listed on her first application except for Shakespeare's Stories. Probably a mistake, since the RLF once again found her case insufficient. Due to her financial straits, Seamer began a second career writing begging letters under the cover of raising money for various charities. Her questionable activities were noted in the pages of Truth in 1900. By 1903, she and her daughter had moved to Bradford-on-Avon, Wiltshire. Writing did not keep the wolf from the door since Seamer was indicted for fraud after soliciting "donations" from the Duchess of Sutherland among others. Two days before her arraignment, Seamer committed suicide on 11 January 1909 leaving a heart-breaking note. The account of her sad case appeared in newspapers around the country. The subsequent life of her daughter Laura cannot be traced. Note: some sources mistakenly attribute the works of Mary Seymour ("M. F. S.") to Seamer and vice versa.

Author Tags:

References: British Census (1841, 1861, 1871, 1881); Clerkenwell News (1 October 1862); London City News (17 April 1869); RLF (case numbers 2145, 2473); Truth (25 January 1900); Wiltshire Times (16 January 1909)

Fiction Titles:

  1. Norah the Flower-Girl.  1 vol.  London: R. T. S., 1872.
  2. The Orphan Sisters.  1 vol.  London: Sunday School Union, 1872.
  3. Dick Robins: or, After Many Days.  1 vol.  London: Sunday School Union, 1873.
  4. Willie Russell's Temptation.  1 vol.  London: R. T. S., 1873.
  5. Mary Wharton: or, Never Forsaken.  1 vol.  London: R. T. S., 1873.
  6. The Young Missionaries.  1 vol.  London: Sunday School Union, 1874.
  7. Walter Bradley: or, The First Lie.  1 vol.  London: R. T. S., 1874.
  8. Ursula's Promise.  1 vol.  London: R. T. S., 1877.
  9. Lottie Freeman's Work.  1 vol.  London: R. T. S., 1877.
  10. Little Mike's Charge.  1 vol.  London: R. T. S., 1877.
  11. Jessie's Troubles.  1 vol.  London: Sunday School Union, 1877.
  12. Bessie Mason's Victories.  1 vol.  London: R. T. S., 1878.
  13. Who Shall Win?.  1 vol.  London: Sunday School Union, 1878.
  14. Divided: A Novel.  2 vol.  London: Remington, 1881.
  15. Monica's Choice: A Story of Youthful Fidelity.  1 vol.  London: R. T. S., 1881.
  16. Pictures and Stories for the Young.  1 vol.  London: R. T. S., 1881.
  17. The Blind Boy of the Island.  1 vol.  London: R. T. S., 1882.
  18. Girlhood Days: or, Auld Lang Syne.  1 vol.  London: Griffith and Farran, 1886.
  19. That Boy Tom.  1 vol.  London: J. F. Shaw, 1886.
  20. Dethroned: A Story for Girls.  1 vol.  London: Griffith and Farran, 1887.
  21. Two and Two: or, French and English.  1 vol.  London: Griffith and Farran, 1887.
  22. Competitors: or, The Story of a Friendship.  1 vol.  London: Griffith and Farran, 1888.
  23. Charlie's Success: or, The Little Ambassador.  1 vol.  London: J. F. Shaw, 1888.
  24. "If Wishes were Horses, Beggars would Ride": A Tale for Young Folk.  1 vol.  London: John Hogg, 1888.
  25. Ada Norman's Trials and Difficulties: A Story for Girls.  1 vol.  London: James Hogg, 1889.
  26. The Ups and Downs of a Sixpence: or, Guess the Many Curious Places I've Been in.  1 vol.  London: John Hogg, 1889.
  27. Poor and Plain: A Story for Elder Girls.  1 vol.  London: Griffith and Farran, 1891.
  28. In Quarantine: or, Stories Told by my Great-Aunt.  1 vol.  London: S. P. C. K., 1893.
  29. Nicola: or, The Career of a Girl Musician.  1 vol.  London: Blackie, 1894.
  30. Only a Shilling: A Story.  1 vol.  London: Blackie, 1894.
  31. Dulcie King: A Story for Girls.  1 vol.  London: Blackie, 1895.
  32. Long Time Ago: A Story for Girls.  1 vol.  London: Blackie, 1895.
  33. Here, There, and Everywhere: or, The Strange Adventures of a Penny.  1 vol.  London: Blackie, 1896.
  34. A Girl's Kingdom.  1 vol.  London: Blackie, 1896.
  35. Maisonnette: A Girl's Story.  1 vol.  London: Jarrold and Son, 1897.
  36. The Adventures of a Leather Purse.  1 vol.  London: Blackie, 1897.
  37. From Hand to Hand: or, The Story of a Hymn-Book.  1 vol.  London: S. P. C. K., 1898.