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At the Circulating Library

A Database of Victorian Fiction, 1837–1901

A Database of Victorian Fiction, 1837–1901

Author: Anna Caroline Steele

Author: Anna Caroline Steele (1841–1920)

Alternate Name(s): Wood (maiden name)

Biography: Anna Caroline Steele was born in 1841, the daughter of Rev. Sir John Page Wood, Bt., and novelist Lady Emma Wood. She grew up in the Essex countryside surrounded by a cultured family: her mother was a poet and novelist; her elder sister Emma was a composer and novelist; and the family staged elaborate amateur stage plays (for which Anna wrote the play Under False Colours). In 1858 she married Captain Charles Steel (Anna seems to have changed the spelling) who served in the 17th Lancers with Anna's brother Evelyn. Steel was the son of Major General Sir Scudamore Wynde Steel, KCB. The marriage was short lived: Anna returned home after a week, never lived with her husband, and never divorced. (Family lore holds she was horrified by the wedding night and died a virgin.) Living back at home, she embarked on a literary career: Anna wrote a collection of poems Thoughts Versified by C (1860); she and her mother published a collection of poems, Ephemera (1865); and she wrote her first novel, Gardenhurst (1867). The novel, dedicated to her sister Katie (better known as "Kitty" O'Shea), follows the trials of a large upper middle-class family. She followed this novel with half-a-dozen more. In addition, she translated Victor Hugo's novel By Order of the King. Steele enjoyed a wide circle of literary friends, including George Meredith and Anthony Trollope. She died in 1920 at her home in Brighton.

Author Tags:

References: Christopher Bryant (pers inf); Burke; British Census (1881); Joyce Marlow, The Uncrowned Queen of Ireland (Dutton, 1975); Times (18 December 1920)

Fiction Titles:

  1. Gardenhurst: A Novel.  3 vol.  London: Chapman and Hall, 1867.
  2. So Runs the World Away.  3 vol.  London: Chapman and Hall, 1869.
  3. Broken Toys: A Novel.  3 vol.  London: Chapman and Hall, 1872.
  4. Condoned.  3 vol.  London: Chapman and Hall, 1877.
  5. Clove Pink: A Study from Memory.  1 vol.  London: Chapman and Hall, 1894.
  6. Lesbia: A Study in One Volume.  1 vol.  London: George Bell and Sons, 1896.