Mary Mackay was born in London, the daughter of a Scottish writer. She adopted the pseudonym Marie Corelli and became first a musician and then a bestselling author of more than 30 gothic, romance, mystical, and society novels. Her work was greatly admired by Queen Victoria and Prime Minister Gladstone, among many others. She also wrote short stories and poetry. She published her first book in 1886. Her first major success was Barabbas: A Dream of the World’s Tragedy (1893). The Sorrows of Satan (1895), also based on a religious theme, had even greater popular success. In 1901, she moved to Stratford-upon-Avon, where she lived for many years and was active in efforts to preserve historic buildings.