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Leverson, Ada


LEVERSON, ADA (1865–1936), English novelist. A member of the *Beddington family, Ada Leverson was of Marrano descent. At 19 she married Ernest Leverson, the son of a diamond merchant; their unsuccessful marriage ended in separation. In addition to novels she wrote many occasional pieces for periodicals, including the humorous weekly, Punch. Her salon was frequented by the leaders of the "nineties" movement, such as Aubrey Beardsley, Oscar Wilde, and Walter Sickert, and she contributed stories to The Yellow Book. She remained a loyal friend to Oscar Wilde, and took him into her home between his trials. Ada Leverson's six novels, beginning with The Twelfth Hour, were published between 1907 and 1916. They are credited with influencing later writers such as Evelyn Waugh. The diverting conversation of Ada Leverson's characters, often uninterrupted by description, owes much to her love of the theater. Always urbane and gently ironic about the relations between husband and wife, she held strong moral views about loyalty in marriage. Her forte was high comedy and she was a penetrating satirist of the manners of her time. In her later years, she was a close friend of the Sitwells. There was a considerable revival of interest in her life and works in the late 20th century.


A. Leverson, Little Ottleys (1962), foreword by C. McInnes; O. Sitwell, Noble Essences (1950), 127–62; V. Wyndham, Sphinx and her Circle (1962). add. bibliography: odnb online; J. Speedie, Wonderful Sphinx: The Biography of Ada Leverson (1993); V. Wyndham, The Sphinx and Her Circle: A Biographical Sketch of Ada Leverson, 18621933 (1963).

[Renee Winegarten]

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