Lady Audley manuscript

Felix Lancashire, Archivist at the Local Studies Library and Archive, describes their intriguing collection of items relating to Victorian novelist Mary Elizabeth Braddon. Richmond upon Thames Library members can log-in to read more online about Braddon’s life in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.

Former Richmond resident, Mary Elizabeth Braddon, wrote many popular novels, including Lady Audley’s Secret. The Local Studies Library & Archive holds a large number of letters that Mary wrote to her daughter Fanny in the early 1900s. The letters reflect Mary’s lively and witty character and describe in detail her life among local socialites and literary figures, such as her neighbour Mary Tuttiett (better known as the author Maxwell Gray), and Lady Trübner, who lived at Beveree in Hampton.

Mary Braddon letter

In the letter shown above, Mary describes her sadness at the death of her friend, the actor Henry Irving, and relates her happy memories of working with him at the Lyceum Theatre in London.

Mary’s son Gerald Maxwell also wrote plays and novels, of which Local Studies holds several original manuscript copies.

You can now search for Mary’s letters and Gerald’s plays on Local Studies’ online catalogue, and the originals can be viewed in our search room at the Old Town Hall.