Works by Mary Cholmondeley

The Romance of His Life and Other Romances illustration

Book cover illustration: The Romance of His Life and Other Romances

Full details of Cholmondeley's short stories and non fiction, together with all editions of her novels published before 1985, can be found in Victorian Research Guides 6, ed Jane Crisp. The guide is available online.

Below is a brief overview of Cholmondeley's novels, story collections and family memoir, with details of their first appearance.

The Danvers Jewels

First published anonymously in Temple Bar between January and March 1887 and in volume form by Bentley the same year. Owes an unacknowledged debt to Wilkie Collins (who is interestingly never mentioned in Cholmondeley's extant correspondence).

Sir Charles Danvers

First published anonymously in Temple Bar between May and December 1889, and in volume form by Bentley the same year. A sequel to The Danvers Jewels, balancing a sensational plot with a minute account of 'the life of country people'.

Diana Tempest

The first of Cholmondeley's works to appear under her own name, Diana Tempest ran in Temple Bar between January and December 1893 and appeared in volume form with Bentley in the same year. It features a corrupt lawyer, a race to get to a hired killer before he can get to the hero, and a heroine who notably anticipates the New Woman fiction of the 1890s. A new edition will be published by Valancourt in 2008.

A Devotee: An Episode in the Life of a Butterfly

First appeared in Temple Bar between August and October 1896 and published in one volume by Edward Arnold in 1897. Although technically it ran to two editions the novel was not widely reviewed and remains, unfairly, one of Cholmondeley’s least read works. It also features one Rev. Gresley, who would become famous for his part in her next novel.

A nurse at the Carlton House Terrace Hospital

A nurse at the Carlton House Terrace
Hospital where MC worked during WW1

Red Pottage

The most obviously autobiographical of Cholmondeley’s novels, placing the dilemma of a talented woman novelist alongside a sensational revenge plot. Published by Arnold in late 1899, it quickly became one of the most successful books of the turn of the century. It is still easy to see why.

Moth and Rust

First edition includes two 'advanced' short stories, 'Geoffrey’s Wife' and 'The Pitfall', in addition to the novella of the title. Published by Murray in 1902. The first of Cholmondeley’s works to focus deliberately on the crises of unremarkable characters, but the real draw of the first edition lies in the two stories she included as fillers.

Prisoners (Fast Bound in Misery and Iron)

Serialised in Lady's Realm between November 1905 and October 1906 and published in volume form by Hutchinson in 1906. The prisoner of the title submits to a life sentence in order to protect the woman he loves. She then becomes engaged to his brother.

The Lowest Rung

A collection of stories published by Murray in 1908. Many of the stories show Cholmondeley's increasing preoccupation with the disappointments and frustrations of middle age.

Notwithstanding

Published by Murray in 1913, and set in the countryside around Ufford in Suffolk, where Cholmondeley spent much of her time bewteen 1907 and 1922.

Under One Roof: A Family Record

Cholmondeley's memoir of her sister Hester, who had died at 22, their nurse Frances Coupland (the Mitty of Diana Tempest) and their parents. This memoir, with her three journal volumes, was used in the writing of Percy Lubbock's own recollections of Cholmondeley, published in 1928.

The Romance of His Life and Other Romances

A collection of stories published by Murray in 1921. After 1913 Cholmondeley planned but never wrote another novel, telling Rhoda Broughton, 'My imagination has dropped dead into the giant crevasse of the war.' However this collection includes one of her most impressive and powerful short stories, 'The Goldfish'.