Pardoe, Julia (1804–1862)

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Pardoe, Julia (1804–1862)

British novelist and historical writer. Born in 1804 (some sources cite 1806) in Beverley, Yorkshire, England; died on November 26, 1862, in London, England; daughter of Major Thomas Pardoe and Elizabeth Pardoe; never married; no children.

Although she is not well known today, Julia Pardoe was a popular writer of travel literature and historical works in the 19th century. Raised in an affluent family, she showed early signs of writing ability and composed a book of poetry which her parents arranged to have published in 1818, when Pardoe was only 13. The work went into several printings, and a second book of poetry followed in 1824. Her first novel, a historical romance titled Lord Morcar of Hereward, was published in 1829.

In the early 1830s, she produced two more romances, but began to suffer from ill health. Advised to vacation in a warmer climate as a cure, Pardoe and her father, a British army officer, traveled to Portugal in 1835. Pardoe had a keen eye for descriptive detail and kept careful notes on her visit in her journal, which became the basis of her first travelogue, Traits and Traditions of Portugal. The book included a dedicatory preface thanking Princess Augusta Guelph (1768–1840) for her support. Pardoe and her father then undertook extended stays in Turkey, France, and Hungary between 1836 and 1837. On her return to England, she settled in London, where she wrote two travelogues on Turkey, published in 1837 and 1838, and one book each on the people and customs of southern France and Hungary.

Pardoe's travel writing, flowery in style and vivid in description, was more commercially successful and critically praised than were her poetry or romances. However, she turned back to novels and short stories in the late 1830s, often using the foreign cities she had lived in as her settings. In 1842, again suffering from ill health, Pardoe moved back to her parents' home, though in her final years she would return to London.

Over the next 15 years, she published six more romances. Her wide readership in Britain and the United States brought her a considerable income from book sales and from the serialization of some of her novels in British periodicals prior to their release in book form. Although her work was in general favorably reviewed, Pardoe's ornate, wordy writing style and the lack of strong themes in her books brought her numerous critics as well. In the mid-1840s, Pardoe began writing historical works on European royalty. Though the books are not scholarly by today's standards, she brought a dynamic narrative style and dramatic flair to her subjects' lives; Louis XIV and the Court of France in the Seventeenth Century (1846) was especially popular among her readers. At age 56, she was honored by the British government with a pension in recognition of her literary achievements. In November 1862, Julia Pardoe died at her London home.


Pardoe, Julia. The Court and Reign of Francis the First. NY: J. Pott, 1901.

Schlueter, Paul, and June Schlueter, eds. Encyclopedia of British Women Writers. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1998.

Laura York , Riverside, California

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Pardoe, Julia (1804–1862)

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