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Elizabeth Hervey (1748–1820)

Author of Melissa and Marcia or, The Sisters

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Disambiguation Notice

Do not confuse her with Elizabeth Christiana Hervey (1759-1824), later Lady Elizabeth Foster and then Elizabeth Cavendish, Duchess of Devonshire; or the society beauty and bigamist Elizabeth Chudleigh Hervey (1720-1788), Countess of Bristol and later Duchess of Kingston.

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Short biography
Elizabeth Marsh or March was born in 1748, the only child of Francis Marsh/March and Maria Hamilton, granddaughter of the 6th Earl of Abercorn. After her father died, her mother remarried to William Beckford, giving birth to a son, also named William, the future author of Vathek and other Gothic novels. While still in her early teens, Elizabeth was married to Alexander Harvie, one of her stepfather's Jamaican business associates. He died in 1765, leaving Elizabeth a widow at age 17. In 1774, she remarried to Lt-Col. William Thomas Hervey, with whom she had two sons. It's unclear whether Hervey later died in Liège or became estranged from his wife. By the late 1780s, Elizabeth Hervey seems to have been living in Brussels as the mistress of Robert Merry, the poet. Elizabeth Hervey published her first novel, Melissa and Marcia, or The Sisters, in 1788. Her next one, Louisa, appeared in 1790. The History of Ned Evans (1796), a popular novel published anonymously, is often attributed to Elizabeth Hervey. Her subsequent books were The Church of Saint Siffrid (1797), The Mourtray Family (1800), and Amabel, or Memoirs of a Woman of Fashion (1814), which was her last book and the first with her name on the title page. Lord Byron wrote about Elizabeth at Madame de Staël's salon in Switzerland in 1818, "Mrs. Hervey (she writes novels) fainted on my entrance." At her death in 1820, Elizabeth also left an unpublished novel in manuscript called Julia.
Disambiguation notice
Do not confuse her with Elizabeth Christiana Hervey (1759-1824), later Lady Elizabeth Foster and then Elizabeth Cavendish, Duchess of Devonshire; or the society beauty and bigamist Elizabeth Chudleigh Hervey (1720-1788), Countess of Bristol and later Duchess of Kingston.

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