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Isabella Banks, née Varley, was born in Manchester, England. Both of her parents were active in local politics and her father was elected a town alderman and magistrate. Isabella began writing as a child and published one of her poems in The Manchester Guardian at age 16. Ivy Leaves, her first collection of poetry, was published in 1844. For a while, she earned her living running a school at Cheetham in Lancashire. In 1846, she married George Linnaeus Banks, a journalist and editor, with whom she had 8 children. After the marriage, she wrote under the name of Mrs. G. Linnaeus Banks, although she sometimes published under her birth name. The family moved frequently for her husband's work and Mrs. Banks contributed articles to newspapers in various cities. She began producing novels in 1865. Some became bestsellers and were reprinted into the 20th century. Her most memorable work was The Manchester Man, first serialized in Cassell's Magazine in 1872 before being published in three volumes in 1876. It's considered an important historical novel of the period, with its attention to local detail and vivid accounts of the Peterloo Massacre 1819 and the Corn-Law riots; its is still widely read. Mrs. Banks campaigned for women's rights and gave public lectures in support of the cause.
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