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At the Circulating Library

A Database of Victorian Fiction, 1837–1901

A Database of Victorian Fiction, 1837–1901

Author: Susanna Carnegie Venn

Author: Susanna Carnegie Venn (1843–1931)

Alternate Name(s): Edmonstone (maiden name)

Biography: Susanna Carnegie Venn was born in 1843 in Marlboro, the eldest daughter of Rev. Charles Welland Edmonstone and the grand-daughter of Neil Benjamin Edmonstone, a distinguished civil servant in the East India Company. In 1867 she married Rev. John Venn (later doctor), the noted mathematician of probability, logician, and namesake of the "Venn diagram." The couple lived in Cambridge where her husband taught at Caius College, earned his doctorate (1883), and became president of the college. They had one son, John Archibald, born 1883. Venn meantime turned to writing novels: The Gwillians of Bryn Gwillian (1876) about a motherless family left to the tender mercies of their father and governess; Four Crotchets to a Bar (1881) about four unmarried and middle-aged sisters; The Dailys of Sodden Fen (1884) considered her best work; Some Married Fellows (1893) about a Cambridge fellow wooing an intellectual lady; and The Husband of One Wife (1894) about a pretty and willful young widow's move to staid Cambridge. All of her novels were published anonymously except the last. In addition, the wife and husband co-authored two biographical histories of the college. The couple were a fixture of Cambridge society, and Venn's obituary wistfully notes, "as an old lady, Mrs. Venn could, on rare occasions, be persuaded to recall her memories of this bygone period [of Cambridge life]; unfortunately she always refused to commit them to writing." John died in 1923 and Susanna followed eight years later.

References: DNB (John Venn); Times (27 March 1931)

Fiction Titles:

  1. The Gwillians of Bryn Gwillian.  2 vol.  London: Smith, Elder, 1876.
  2. Four Crotchets to a Bar: A Novel.  3 vol.  London: Smith, Elder, 1881.
  3. The Dailys of Sodden Fen.  3 vol.  London: Bentley, 1884.
  4. Some Married Fellows.  2 vol.  London: Bentley, 1893.
  5. The Husband of One Wife.  3 vol.  London: Hurst and Blackett, 1894.