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Catherine Crowe

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Published : 3 Articles
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Crowe, Catherine (Stevens) I Mrs. Crowe l, 1800?-1876, novelist, writer on the supernatural. Contributed to Chambers's, Ladies' Companion, Once a Week, and other periodicals. Published plays, children's books, novels, and collections of stories. Best known of the novels were Adventures of Susan Hopley, 1841, and The Story of Lilly Dawson, 1847. Best known of the collections of stories was The Night Side of Nature; or, Ghosts and Ghost Seers, 1848, accounts of supernatural happenings, prophetic dreams, presentiments, etc., gathered from many sources and animated in the retelling by Mrs. Crowe's belief in what she related: the book went through several editions; the title, recorded J. A. Crowe mischievously (Reminiscences, p. 74), Douglas Jerrold once paraphrased "in a way I cannot repeat." In 1859 published Spiritualism, and the Age We Live In. Well known in literary circles of Edinburgh and London; correspondent of Sydney Smith; conjectured to be author of Vestiges of ... Creation during the time that the authorship of the book was a matter of speculation. For an amusing instance of her quasi-acceptance of the authorship, see Lehmann, Ancestors and Friends, p. 125.



      In Feb. 1854, Mrs. Crowe had a serious attack of illness, reported in the newspapers to be madness. Two of Dickens's letters of March of that year record her appearing in the streets of Edinburgh "stark mad" and "stark naked." Mrs. Crowe issued a public statement denying the madness. She lived to a ripe age and died, according to Boase, of "natural decay." 
      Dickens wrote for the Examiner (Feb. 26, 1848) a review of The Night Side of Nature, which he termed "one of the most extraordinary collections" of ghost stories ever published. Of Mrs. Crewe he wrote: "She can never be read without pleasure and profit, and can never write otherwise than sensibly and well." 
      "Loaded Dice" ["Loaded Dice" I, 77-82. April 20, 1850] was among the items that Dickens had on hand before the first number of H.W. appeared. He found it "horribly dismal"; the "part about the sister's madness," he wrote, "must not on any account remain" (to Wills, Feb. 28, 1850). In the story as published in H.W., the sister does not succumb to madness. 
      "The Young Advocate" [I, 292-7. June 22, 1850] was reprinted in Harper's, with acknowledgment. to H.W.; "Esther Hammond's Wedding Day" [IV, 425-31. Jan. 24, 1852] without acknowledment. "Loaded Dice" [I, 77-82. April 20, 1850] was included in Choice Stones from Dickens' Household Words, pub. Auburn, N.Y., 1854. 
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 D.N.B. 

Author: Anne Lohrli; © University of Toronto Press, 1971. 

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
 

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