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Elizabeth Ogilvy Benger was born in Wells, England, the daughter of John Benger, a tradesman, and his wife Mary. When she was a small child, her father took the family to Chatham, where he became a purser in the Royal Navy. Elizabeth loved reading, and her father sent her to a local boys' school in 1790, when she was 12, highly unusual for the time. The following year, she produced a poem, "The Female Geniad," which was published under the patronage of an aristocratic friend of her uncle, Sir David Ogilvy. Impoverished by the death of her father in the East Indies in 1796, she and her mother moved to London. There Elizabeth got to know many prominent literary figures, including Charles and Mary Lamb, Jane and Anna Maria Porter, Caroline Champion de Crespigny, John Aikin and his daughter Lucy, Anna Laetitia Barbauld, and Elizabeth Inchbald. Although Elizabeth wanted to become a playwright, she had no success at it, and turned to poetry, novels, and translations. Her long poem "The Abolition of the Slave Trade" appeared in 1809, followed by two novels, Marian and The Heart and the Fancy. She wrote biographical works on Elizabeth Hamilton, John Tobin, Elizabeth of Bohemia, Anne Boleyn, and Mary, Queen of Scots. She was collecting materials for a biography of King Henri IV of France when she died at age 49.
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