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There is little information about the early life of Agnes Maria Bennett -- also known as Anna Maria Bennett -- née Evans. She was probably born in Wales, the daughter of a customs officer or grocer. She seem to have been briefly married to Thomas Bennett, a customs officer. After moving to London, where she worked in a chandler's shop, she met Vice Admiral Thomas Pye and became his housekeeper and mistress. The couple are believed to have had at least two children together. Her daughter Harriet later became a famous actress as Harriet Pye Esten. In 1785, Mrs. Bennett was permitted to dedicate her first novel, Anna, or the Memoirs of a Welch Heiress, published in four volumes, to Princess Charlotte Augusta Matilda, eldest daughter of King George III. Mrs. Bennett's other novels included Juvenile Indiscretions (1788); Agnes de Courci, a Domestic Tale (1789); Ellen, Countess of Castle Howel (1794); and The Beggar Girl (1797), most of which sold well enough to be translated. By 1806, she was a hugely popular author and her novel published that year, Vicissitudes Abroad, or the Ghost of My Father, sold 2,000 copies on the first day of issue. Another one of her works, Faith and Fiction, or Shining Lights in a Dark Generation, in six volumes, was published posthumously. Mrs. Bennett is also credited as the author of two French novels excerpted from Faith and Fiction, L'Orphelin du Presbytère (1816) and Beaute et Laideur (1820).
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