British Author Biography: Marie Corelli

Marie Corelli was a popular English author whose given name was Minnie Mackay. Information on her work, career and life.

Marie Corelli was a popular author in nineteenth century England, but was also much criticized for her eerie, occult tales. Though she was often quick to take offense, she also was quick to relish in her popularity, assuming herself cherished by her fans.

Marie Corelli was of mingled Italian and Scotch parentage. In infancy she was adopted by Charles Mackay, the song writer and sage, who gave her the name of Minnie Makay. Her early years were spent in England, but it was in a French convent that she received her education.

She was very accomplished in music and was carefully trained in the arts. When she was barely thirteen she began writing an elaborate opera "Ginerva da Siena". Two songs, "My Sweet Sweeting" and "Romeo's Good Night", belong to this interval. It was the wish of her adoptive father, Charles Makay, that she embark on a musical career. But Marie wasn't sure. She wanted to try her hand in literary lines and wrote sonnets on Shakespearean themes such as "Romeo and Juliet", "Rosaline and Desdemona". These were produced while she was still involved in her musical education.

In 1866, a strange, mystical experience turned Marie once again to literary channels. This experience led her to write her first book, "A Romance of Two Worlds". This met with such success that she wrote another, "Vendetta" in the same year. Other works of Marie Corelli's are: "Thelma" (1887), "Ardath" (1889), "Soul of Lilith" (1892), "Barabbas" (1893); "The Sorrows of Satan" (1895), "Mightly Atom"(1896), plus several more. All her books met with success and were widely read, if nothing else, out of curiosity.

While Marie was well liked and accepted by many prominent people, she had the ability (or disability!) of alienating, at times, those people who respected her. She could be very opinionated, especially about theology.

While it was not generally written about, and was not widely known at the time, it is believed by some that Marie was homosexual. She often referred to herself as a man-hater. She wrote love poems, but never mentioned the sex of either party and it is believed that they were written to her life-long companion, Bertha Vyver, who had known Marie from her youth. Regardless of her sexual orientation, Marie was not a supporter of the homosexual rights movement that was being promoted by some in her day. She thought homosexuality should be discreet and gender appropriate. She did not feel that a gay man should take a woman's role and vice versa.

Marie and Bertha purchased Mason Croft, a rundown Tudor mansion. They spent much time and money restoring it to it's former glory. In this home she had a music studio and wrote many of her books sitting in her tower. Marie's writing style were both decadent and showy. She often twisted biblical truths to fit her own fancy and many of her themes were heretical. In her trilogy that included "Barabbas", Marie rewrote the whole history of Christianity and of the devil to suit her own ideas and imaginations.

Marie Corelli was both loved and hated because of the books that she wrote. But because of simple curiosity, she was one of the most frequent read author of her times.

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