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Author photo. Lady Florence Dixie, from Vanity Fair, January 5th, 1884. Wikimedia Commons.

Lady Florence Dixie, from Vanity Fair, January 5th, 1884. Wikimedia Commons.

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Lady Florence Dixie, née Douglas, and a twin brother were born in Scotland to Archibald William Douglas, 7th Marquess of Queensberry, and his wife Caroline, Lady Queensberry. In 1862, following the mysterious death of her father, her mother converted to the Roman Catholic faith and took her children to stay in Paris. Florence was educated at home and in a convent school. She began writing at a young age. In 1875, she married Sir Alexander Beaumont Churchill, 11th Baronet Dixie, with whom she had two sons. She published her first book, Abel Avenged: a Dramatic Tragedy, in 1877. With her husband and two of her siblings, she travelled to Patagonia in 1878-1879, and the following year published Riding Across Patagonia, a bestseller. In 1881, Florence went to South Africa to report on the First Boer War and the Anglo-Zulu War for The Morning Post. On her return, she wrote In the Land of Misfortune (1882) and A Defence of Zululand and Its King from the Blue Book (1882). She also wrote novels and articles for periodicals, and championed women's rights and women's sports teams. Although she supported Home Rule for Ireland, she criticized the Irish Land League, which led to an attempt on her life by the Fenians in 1883. Her childhood poems appeared in a volume called Songs of a Child (1902) under a pseudonym.
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