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At the Circulating Library

A Database of Victorian Fiction, 1837–1901

A Database of Victorian Fiction, 1837–1901

Author: Flora Matilda Hayter

Author: Flora Matilda Hayter (1864–1959)

Alternate Name(s): Mrs. Beresford (pseudonym?); Montanaro (married name); Wilson (married name); Ames (married name)

Biography: Flora Matilda Hayter was born in 1864 in Calcutta, India, the daugher of Col. Charles Hayter and Flora McLeod. In her teens, she was sent to England where she lived with her grandfather, the portrait painter John Hayter (1800–1895). At age eighteen, under her own name, Hayter wrote her first novel, All Among the Barley (1882), an insipid romance novel which The Academy opined, "we hardly remember to have read a sillier book." Her second novel Poppy! (1883) appeared under the name "Mrs. Beresford"—however, this may be a pseudonym since no record of a marriage (or husband) exists. In 1885, Hayter married Lt. Arthur Forbes Montanaro, Royal Artillary, in India where they lived for a number of years. (He would later become the governor of Sierra Leone.) The couple had one daughter, Murial. During this period she wrote two more novels: A Romance of the Tape (1893) and A Social Scandal (1893) (a story about gambling). The couple divorced in 1895. In 1897, she married the electrical engineer Charles Northesk Wilson and they had one child. They lived together until 1908 when Hayter eloped with Hugh Laurenson Ames, formerly an British Embassy attaché in Washington. Hayter and Ames left for the United States on a lecture tour. While in Idaho, Ames petitioned and received a (fraudulent) divorce from his wife (still living in London) and Hayter and Ames married in Oakland, California. In 1911, they returned to London, married again, and lived as Mr. and Mrs. Ames. Ames's wife, Kate, petitioned for a divorce in 1912 on grounds of desertion, bigamy, and adultery. The divorce was granted since the divorce in Idaho had no validity. The following year, both Hayter and Ames pled guilty to bigamy and she served six months in Halloway prison. Afterwards, Wilson divorced Hayter and she married Ames. Hayter remained an active writer of travel books, novels, and other nonfiction. She died in 1959 after being struck by a motorcycle.

Author Tags:

References: British Census (1881); pers inf (Chris Curling); Times (29 April 1885; 29 February 1912; 27 April 1912; 31 July 1913)

Fiction Titles:

  1. All Among the Barley.  3 vol.  London: F. V. White, 1882.
  2. Poppy: A Novel.  3 vol.  London: F. V. White, 1883.
  3. Romance of the Tape: Founded on Fact.  1 vol.  London: Remington, 1893.
  4. A Social Scandal.  1 vol.  London: Remington, 1894.