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At the Circulating Library

A Database of Victorian Fiction, 1837–1901

A Database of Victorian Fiction, 1837–1901

Author: Osborn William Trenery Heighway

Author: Osborn William Trenery Heighway (1829–1900)

Alternate Name(s): Gordon O. L. Gordon Trenery (pseudonym)

Biography: Among the strangested of author biographies. Osborn William Trenery Heighway was born on 9 November 1829 in London, the eldest child of a canal engineer William Heighway and his wife Elizabeth. The family resided in Kent for a time where Heighway attended Troytown Academy, Rochester. He turned to literature, penning the fictional conversion narrative Leila Ada (1852). The work was convincing enough to fool a number of readers and called forth two sequels. He wrote another novel depicting Jewish life in Adeline (1854). As far as can be determined, Osborn had no connection to the Jewish community. Under the pseudonym "Gordon O. L. Gordon Trenery" he wrote a travel book The City of the Crescent (1855). In addition, he contributed to Tait's Magazine and Chambers's Journal. Heighway wrote another "memoir" of an upper-class lady and sold it to an Ipswich publisher for £50. When the author could not or would not collaborate its authenticity, the publisher sued for his money back. At the trial Heighway repeatedly claimed the memoir was real but refused to offer details. He lost the case. In 1859, Heighway applied to the Royal Literary Fund claiming an upper-class family and an invalid sister. When pressed for family details, Heighway wrote increasingly angry and unhinged letters to the RLF who eventually denied him relief. In 1863, Heighway, under the alias "Arthur Henry Trevelyan," was arrested as an "insane vagrant" in Shrewsbury. At his hearing, his mother explained his literary career and mental illness. He spent the rest of his life in the Atcham asylum where he died in 1900.

Author Tags:

References: British Census (1841, 1851, 1881, 1891); Norwich Mercury (30 December 1857); RLF (case number 1502); Staffordshire Advertiser (19 September 1863)

Fiction Titles:

  1. Leila Ada, the Jewish Convert: An Authentic Memoir.  1 vol.  London: Partridge and Oakey, 1852.
  2. Adeline: or, Mysteries, Romances, and Realities of Jewish Life.  2 vol.  London: Partridge and Oakey, 1854.
  3. Select Extracts from the Diary, Correspondence, etc., of Leila Ada.  1 vol.  London: Partridge and Oakey, 1854.
  4. The Morning Land: A Family and Jewish History.  1 vol.  London: Wertheim and Macintosh, 1854.