Amelia Opie

(12 November 1769 – 2 December 1853 / Norwich)

Biography of Amelia Opie

Amelia Opie poet

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.

Writing career

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)
Poems (1803)
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
Temper 1812
First Chapter of Accidents. 1813
Tales of Real Life. 1813
Valentine's Eve. 1816
New Tales. 1818
Tales of the Heart. 1820
Madeline. 1822
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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To Henry

Think not, while fairer nymphs invite
Thy feet, dear youth, to Pleasure's bowers,
My faded form shall meet thy sight,
And cloud my Henry's smiling hours.

Thou art the world's delighted guest,
And all that pride desires is thine;
Then I'll not wound thy generous breast,
By numbering o'er the woes of mine.