Gore, Catherine (1799–1861)

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Gore, Catherine (1799–1861)

English novelist and dramatist. Name variations: Catherine Grace Frances Moody; Mrs. Charles Arthur Gore; (pseudonyms) C.D.; C.F.G.; Albany Poyntz. Born Catherine Grace Frances Moody in East Retford,Nottinghamshire, England, in 1799; died at Lyndhurst, Hampshire, England, on January 29, 1861; daughter of Charles Moody (a wine merchant); married Captain Charles Gore, in 1823; children: ten.

Selected writings:

Theresa Marchmont, or the Maid of Honour (1823); Lettre de Cachet (1827); The Reign of Terror (1827); Hungarian Tales (1829); Women as They Are; or The Manners of the Day (1830); Mothers and Daughters (1831); The Fair of May Fair (1832); (play) The School for Coquettes (1832); The Hamiltons (1834); Mrs. Armytage or Female Domination (1836); Stokeshill Place; or the Man of Business (1837); The Cabinet Minister and The Courtier of the Days of Charles II (1839); Preferment (1840); (play) Quid Pro Quo, or, The Day of the Dupes (1843); Cecil, or The Adventures of a Coxcomb (1841); Greville, or a Season in Paris (1841); The Banker's Wife (1843); Heckington, A Novel (1858).

Catherine Moody Gore was a precocious child whose friends nicknamed her "the poetess" because of her early poetic writings. She began her prolific writing career shortly after her marriage to Captain Charles Gore in 1823. Although she had ten children, she found time to write and publish novels, plays, and songs. Her descriptions of the high society of the time made her the undisputed queen of what was known as the "silver-fork" school of fiction. Her first published work, "The Two Broken Hearts" was written in verse, and the following year she published her first novel, Theresa Marchmont, or The Maid of Honour. During the 1820s, she saw her popularity rise with Lettre de Cachet (1827), The Reign of Terror (1827), and Hungarian Tales (1829). Her greatest success was Women as They Are; or The Manners of the Day (1830), a novel which so entertained King George IV that he remarked it was "the best bred and most amusing novel published in my remembrance."

In 1832, Gore moved to France and continued to support her sick husband and her ten children through her successful writing. She blossomed during the decade of the 1830s, producing Mothers and Daughters (1831), The Fair of May Fair (1832), The Hamiltons (1834), Mrs. Armytage or Female Domination (1836), and Stokeshill Place; or The Man of Business (1837). During the 1830s, Gore also wrote her first plays. Her most popular comedy, The School for Coquettes (1832), was produced at the Haymarket and ran for five weeks. Lords and Commons, her next effort, was produced at Drury Lane Theater but ran for only a few nights. A decade later her Quid Pro Quo, or, The Day of the Dupes (1843) won critical acclaim and a £500 prize, but it was not as popular with patrons as her first effort. Other less successful plays included The King's Seal and King O'Neil.

Gore frequently wrote under pseudonyms and in one instance published two novels during the same week, prompting a deliberate competition. In 1841, she published Cecil, or The Adventures of a Coxcomb which was considered to be one of her most revealing novels on the social life of the upper-middle class. In 1843, Gore published The Banker's Wife, the plot of which concerned a corrupt banker. Life imitated art when her guardian, Sir John Dean Paul, defrauded her of a £20,000 inheritance in 1850. When he was convicted and imprisoned for the crime, Gore capitalized on the event by reissuing The Banker's Wife.

Her talents did not stop with novels and plays. She wrote songs and set poetry to music, including Burns' "And ye shall walk in silk attire." It became one of the most popular songs of the day.

Gore's style was fodder for many critics, chief among them William Thackeray who parodied her style in Punch magazine. By modernday standards, Gore's work is tedious, but its value lies in its view of English society at the time. She was considered a clever writer who had a gift for satire and a keen head for business. Gore is known to have written over 70 novels during her lifetime, but her prolific use of pseudonyms makes it probable that other uncredited works exist.

Toward the end of her life, Gore lost her sight but not her skill. Although her output slowed, she continued to write almost until her death. Her last work, Heckington, A Novel, was published in 1858. She had returned to England and purchased a home in Hampshire where she died in 1861.

Judith C. Reveal , freelance writer, Greensboro, Maryland

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