Elizabeth Helme entry: Overview screen.
Writing and Life
Works By
Elizabeth Helme began publishing in the 1780s to supplement her family's income. She issued ten novels with her name or some other means of (at least later) identification, three translations, and a number of didactic and pedagogical works for the young, She told the Royal Literary Fund that she had "translated sixteen volumes for different booksellers [that is publishers] without my name," which suggests that some remain unidentified. Bibliographic Citation link. Her novels abound in cliché but deploy their derivative plots, characters, and diction with attractive energy and conviction. She is interested in problems of class, race, and social justice, though given to finding easy fictional solutions for them.
If EH was the Elizabeth Horrobin who married William Helme in 1772, that still leaves her far from fully identified. One possible candidate was christened on 8 August 1743 in the same London church as that later wedding, and had a mother named Elizabeth. But if the Feminist Companion is right in saying that EH was born near Durham, then she was probably the baby christened there on 4 October 1753, which would make her ten years younger. Bibliographic Citation link.
By April 1787 EH's first, anonymous novel, Louisa; or, The Cottage on the Moor, remained one of her most successful works. Bibliographic Citation link.
About April 1796 EH had resounding public if not critical success with The Farmer of Inglewood Forest. A Novel, dated 1797. For the first time she published with William Lane of the Minerva Press and gave her name on her work. Bibliographic Citation link.
By 1814 EH died. The precise date has not yet been established, but a work of 1812 was published without the designation "posthumous" which appears on Modern Times, 1814. Bibliographic Citation link.  scholarly note link.
Probably April 1814 There appeared bearing EH's name Modern Times; or, The Age We Live In. A Posthumous Novel. The dedication, by permission, to Countess Cowper (wife of the fifth earl) was signed by William Helme. Bibliographic Citation link.  scholarly note link.
Back to Top