Bury, Charlotte (1775–1861)

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Bury, Charlotte (1775–1861)

English novelist who wrote romantic fiction, including a thinly veiled account of life at court with Caroline of Brunswick, princess of Wales and queen of England. Name variations: Charlotte Campbell; Lady Charlotte Bury. Born Charlotte Susan Maria Campbell in London, England, on January 28, 1775; died in London on March 31, 1861; daughter of Elizabeth Gunning (1734–1790) and John Campbell, 5th duke of Argyll; educated by private tutors; married Col. John Campbell on June 14, 1796 (died, 1809); married Rev. Edward John Bury on March 17, 1818 (died, 1832); children: (first marriage) nine; (second marriage) two.

Selected works:

Conduct is Fate (1822); Alla Giornata (1826); Flirtation, A Marriage in High Life (1828); The Exclusives (1830); Diary Illustrative of the Times of George IV (1838); The History of a Flirt (1840).

Born in London on January 28, 1775, the daughter of Elizabeth Gunning and John Campbell, 5th duke of Argyll, Charlotte Campbell's lineage assured her a home at Inverary Castle, the family seat in Scotland. Known for her beauty, she could have married suitors with more money or station, but she chose John Campbell, a poor cousin, moved with him to Edinburgh, and had nine children in thirteen years. Widowed in 1809 and soon destitute, she took a post as lady-in-waiting to Caroline of Brunswick , then princess of Wales, who was separated from Prince George (George IV) and the subject of slander. In 1815, Charlotte left royal service upon publication of her first novel.

When she married the Reverend Edward John Bury, rector of Lichfield, in 1818, Charlotte's parents and children objected vehemently. Like Charlotte's first husband, Bury was poor; his tastes, however, were expensive. Lady Charlotte had two more children during her second marriage and began to publish prolifically to support the family. When her husband died in 1832, leaving Charlotte once again indebted, she increased her literary output but did not improve her situation. But in 1838, she published Diary Illustrative of the Times of George IV, an account of her experiences in Caroline of Brunswick's court and had her first bestseller. Public criticism for having violated the queen's privacy, albeit sympathetically, forced Charlotte into seclusion, but the book temporarily warded off creditors. Though a handful of novels followed, Charlotte Bury never enjoyed a steady income. She outlived eight of her children and died impoverished at her London home at age 86.

Crista Martin , Boston, Massachusetts