Clarke, Mary Cowden (1809–1898)

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Clarke, Mary Cowden (1809–1898)

English Shakespearean scholar. Name variations: Mary Cowden-Clarke. Born Mary Victoria Novello in London, England, on June 22, 1809; died in Italy on January 12, 1898; daughter of Vincent Novello (a composer and organist) and Mary Sabilla Hehl; educated at home and in France; married Charles Cowden Clarke (a literary historian), in 1828.

Mary Cowden Clarke was the daughter of Mary Sabilla Hehl and Vincent Novello, a composer and organist. In her youth, she frequently met her father's associates, including Shelley, Coleridge, Charles and Mary Anne Lamb , Keats, Leigh Hunt, Hazlitt and other literary celebrities of the day. Their influence undoubtedly fueled the early development of her intellectual powers, and by her 15th year she was a contributor to magazines. In 1828, she married Charles Cowden Clarke, a literary historian, and soon began the Complete Concordance to Shakespeare, with which her name was to become associated. After 16 years of uninterrupted labor, this work was published in London in 1846, in a large octavo of 860 pages, and remained the standard concordance until the end of the 19th century.

Clarke's services to Shakespearean literature became widely acknowledged. Among the tokens of appreciation bestowed upon her was a memorial from America consisting of a chair ornamented with small figures of tragedy and comedy carved from the Shakespeare mulberry tree, as well as a replica of the Stratford bust of the great dramatist. Nearly every state in the Union contributed. The author of many novels and essays, Clarke collaborated with her husband on The Shakespeare Key (1879) and Recollections of Writers (1898). She was also the editor of the Musical Times (1853–56).

suggested reading:

Altick, R.D. The Cowden Clarkes.

Clarke, Mary Cowden. My Long Life. 1896.

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Clarke, Mary Cowden (1809–1898)

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