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At the Circulating Library

A Database of Victorian Fiction, 1837–1901

A Database of Victorian Fiction, 1837–1901

Author: Gertrude Dix

Author: Gertrude Dix (1867–1950)

Alternate Name(s): Nicol (married name)

Biography: Gertrude Dix was born in 1867 in Brixton, the daughter of William Chatterton Dix (1837–1898), a manager for an insurance agency and a noted hymn writer. (The Christmas carol "What Child is This?" is perhaps his lasting legacy.) Her paternal grandfather was the novelist and biographer John Dix (1800–1865). Dix and her large family lived in the Bristol area. As a young woman, she took an interest in socialism: as a member of the Clifton and Bristol Christian Societies she advocated for workers during the labour unrest in Bristol in 1889–90. Dix later joined the Fabian Society. During her work in Bristol, Dix met her future husband Robert Allan Nicol, a former Edinburgh medical student turned socialist. Nicol eloped with the married fellow socialist Elizabeth Miriam Daniell in August 1890—in Boston, Massachusetts, they declared their free-love union, had a daughter (named "Sunrise"), and weathered Daniell's husband's petition for divorce. Meantime, in London, Dix turned to literature, writing the New Woman novel The Girl from the Farm (1895) for the Keynotes series and the socialist-themed novel The Image Breakers (1900) in addition to various journalism. Shortly after the turn of the century, Dix reconnected with Nicol and the couple moved to California and had three children. Thereafter, Dix appears to have given up literary work. Dix and Nicol lived their last years in the San Francisco area where Dix died in 1950 and Nicol in 1956.

References: Bristol Mercury (14 June 1890, 1 May 1894); British Census (1881, 1891, 1901); California Death Records; The Literary Year-Book (1911); U.S. Census (1900, 1920, 1940)

Fiction Titles:

  1. The Girl from the Farm.  1 vol.  London: John Lane, 1895.
  2. The Image Breakers.  1 vol.  London: William Heinemann, 1900.