Helen Mathers, 1851 - 1920 entry: Overview screen.
Writing and Life
Works By
Helen Mathers, 1851 - 1920 won success at a young age in 1875 with her best-selling romance Comin' Thro' the Rye, a semi-autobiographical novel excoriating the destructive impact of Victorian patriarchal sexuality on domestic life. After the failure of her magazine The Burlington, for which she was editor and regular serial contributor, Helen Mathers, 1851 - 1920 continued to write constantly to cope with mounting debt. She published more than thirty-five novels over three decades. Although her celebrity in the press, as a leader of fashion and producer of popular fiction, lasted till the end of the Victorian period, her popularity waned in the first decade of the twentieth century, when her books were repeatedly criticised for being derivative of the works of others.
Probably August 1851 Ellen Mathews (who later wrote as HM) was born in Misterton, near Crewkerne in Somerset, according to the date given in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Bibliographic Citation link.  scholarly note link.
1869 Ellen Mathews (who later wrote as HM, then aged, it now seems, about eighteen) sent her first poem, The Token of the Silver Lily, to a family friend who knew Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Bibliographic Citation link.
By 3 July 1875 The young Ellen Mathews (who later called herself HM) anonymously published her best-selling novel or romance Comin' Thro' the Rye in three volumes. Bibliographic Citation link.
Late November 1891 to early May 1892 HM collaborated with Florence Marryat, Julia Frankau, Frances Eleanor Trollope, Conan Doyle, Bram Stoker, Justin H. McCarthy, Joseph Hatton, and others in a serial novel, The Fate of Fenella, in The Gentlewoman. Bibliographic Citation link.
1912 HM brought out her final collection of short fiction, Man is Fire: Woman is Tow, and Other Stories, three years after she had publicly announced the end of her authorial career. Bibliographic Citation link.
11 March 1920 HM died at the age of sixty-seven, almost penniless, at 26 Callcott Road, Kilburn, London (the home of a friend). Bibliographic Citation link.
Back to Top