Mary Cowden Clarke, née Novello, was a daughter of Vincent Novello, a British composer and music publisher. Through him, she met many great artists and writers, including Leigh Hunt, John Keats, and Charles and Mary Lamb. Her introduction to the Lambs' Tales from Shakespeare led her to a lifetime of Shakespeare scholarship. In 1828, at age 19, she married Charles Cowden Clarke, 22 years her senior, a business partner of her family. The year after their marriage, she began working on a Shakespeare concordance, a massive effort that took 12 years to complete. It was eventually issued in 18 monthly parts from 1844 to 1845, and in book form in 1845 as The Complete Concordance to Shakespeare, being a Verbal Index to all the Passages in the Dramatic Works of the Poet. She then became the first woman to edit all of Shakespeare’s plays. Her now-famous book The Girlhood of Shakespeare's Heroines appeared in 1850-1852. With her husband, she wrote The Shakespeare Key, an encyclopedic project published in 1879. Between and alongside these works, she also produced novels, poetry, stories, and articles on other subjects. She was one of the troupe of amateur actors organized by Charles Dickens who took Shakespeare's plays on tour in Britain. Her autobiography, My Long Life, was published when she was 87 years old.