Biography of Amelia Opie
Amelia Alderson was the daughter of James Alderson, a physician, and Amelia Briggs of Norwich, England. She was a cousin of notable judge Edward Hall Alderson, with whom she corresponded throughout her life, and also a cousin of notable artist Henry Perronet Briggs.
Miss Alderson had inherited radical principles and was an ardent admirer of John Horne Tooke. She was close to activists John Philip Kemble, Sarah Siddons, William Godwin and Mary Wollstonecraft.
Marriage and family
In 1798 Alderson married John Opie, the painter. The nine years of her married life before her husband's death were happy, although her husband did not share her love of society. With his encouragement, in 1801 she completed a novel entitled Father and Daughter, which showed genuine fancy and pathos.
Amelia Opie published regularly after her first novel. In 1802 she completed a volume of verse. Additional books followed: Adeline Mowbray (1804), Simple Tales (1806), Temper (1812), Tales of Real Life (1813), Valentine's Eve (1816), Tales of the Heart (1818), and Madeline (1822).
Opie wrote The dangers of Coquetry at age 18. Her novel Father and Daughter (1801) is about misled virtue and family reconciliation. Encouraged by Mary Wollstonecraft, she wrote Adeline Mowbray (1804), an exploration of relationship between mother and daughter. Adeline Mowbray uses frank language to deliver the moral that the desires of women as much as those of men can override their families' wishes and thus jeopardise their future
Amelia Opie divided her time between London and Norwich. She was a friend of writers Sir Walter Scott, Richard Brinsley Sheridan and Madame de Stael.
In 1825, through the influence of Joseph John Gurney, she joined the Society of Friends. After a book entitled Detraction Displayed and contributions to periodicals, she wrote nothing more. The rest of her life was spent travelling and working at charity.
Even late in life, Opie maintained connections with writers, for instance receiving George Borrow as a guest. After a visit to Cromer, a seaside resort on the North Norfolk coast, she caught a chill and retired to her bedroom. A year later on 2 December 1853, she died at Norwich. Ms. Opie was said to retain her vivacity to the last. She was buried at the Gildencroft Quaker Cemetery, Norwich.
A biography of her, A Life, by Miss C.L. Brightwell, was published in 1854.
Amelia Opie's Works:
Maid of Corinth (1801)
Elegy to the Memory of the Duke of Bedford (1802)
Lines to General Kosciusko (1803)
Song to Stella (1803)
The Warrior's Return (1808)
The Black Man's Lament (1826)
Lays for the Dead (1834)
Novels and Stories
Dangers of Coquetry. (published anonymously) 1790
The Father and Daughter. 1801
Adeline Mowbray. 1804
Simple Tales. 1806
First Chapter of Accidents. 1813
Tales of Real Life. 1813
Valentine's Eve. 1816
New Tales. 1818
Tales of the Heart. 1820
Illustrations of Lying. 1824
Tales of the Pemberton Family for Children. 1825
The Last Voyage. 1828
Detraction Displayed. 1828
Miscellaneous Tales. (12 Vols.) 1845-7
Memoir of John Opie. 1809
Sketch of Mrs. Roberts. 1814
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Amelia Opie Poems
Not one kind look....one friendly word! Wilt thou in chilling silence sit; Nor through the social hour afford One cheering smile, or beam of wit?
How dear to me the twilight hour! It breathes, it speaks of pleasures past; When Laura sought this humble bower, And o'er it courtly splendours cast.
I am wearing away like the snow in the sun, I am wearing away from the pain in my heart; But ne'er shall he know, who my peace has undone, How bitter, how lasting, how deep is my smart.
Love Elegy, To Laura
Too heedless friend, why thus augment the flame That glows resistless in my beating breast? Why with thy praises grace his fatal name, Who robs thy Emma's hapless heart of rest?
On Hearing That Constantinople Was Swall...
[A Report, though false, at that time generally believed.] Fallen are thy towers, Byzantium! towers that stood
Love Elegy, To Henry
Then thou hast learnt the secret of my soul, Officious Friendship has its trust betrayed; No more I need the bursting sigh control, Nor summon pride my struggling soul to aid.
Lines Written In 1799.
Hail to thy pencil! well its glowing art Has traced those features painted on my heart; Now, though in distant scenes she soon will rove, Still here I behold the friend I love--
Round youthful Henry's restless bed His weeping friends and parents pressed; But she who raised his languid head He loved far more than all the rest.
On The Approach Of Autumn
Farewell gay Summer! now the changing wind That Autumn brings commands thee to retreat; It fades the roses which thy temples bind, And the green sandals which adorn thy feet.
Ode To Borrowdale
IN CUMBERLAND. Hail , Derwent's beauteous pride! Whose charms rough rocks in threatening grandeur guard,
Ode, Written On The Opening Of The Last ...
Spring! thy impatient bloom restrain, Nor wake so soon thy genial pow'r, For, deeds of death must hail thy reign,
Julia, Or The Convent Of St. Claire
Stranger, that massy, mouldering pile, Whose ivied ruins load the ground, Reechoed once to pious strains By holy sisters breathed around.
On The Place De La Concorde
[Originally called the Place de Louis Seize,--next the Place de la Revolution, where the perpetual guillotine stood.]
I am wearing away like the snow in the sun, I am wearing away from the pain in my heart;
The Lucayan's Song
Hail, lonely shore! hail, desert cave!
To you, o'erjoyed, from men I fly,
And here I'll make my early grave....
For what can misery do but die?
Sad was the hour when, fraught with guile,
Spain's cruel sons our valleys sought;
Unknown to us the Christian's wile,
Unknown the dark deceiver's thought.