Charlotte Riddell

Charlotte Riddell, known also as Mrs J. H. Riddell (30 September 1832 – 24 September 1906), was a popular and influential Irish-born writer in the Victorian period. She was the author of 56 books, novels and short stories, and also became part-owner and editor of St. James's Magazine, a prominent London literary journal in the 1860s.

Charlotte E. Riddell
Charlotte Riddell in 1875
Charlotte Riddell in 1875
BornCharlotte Eliza Lawson Cowan
30 September 1832
Carrickfergus, County Antrim, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
Died24 September 1906 (aged 73)
Ashford, Kent, England
SpouseJoseph Hadley Riddell


Charlotte Riddell aged 60

Born Charlotte Eliza Lawson Cowan in Carrickfergus, County Antrim, Ireland, on 30 September 1832, Riddell was the youngest daughter of James Cowan of Carrickfergus, High Sheriff for the County of Antrim, and Ellen Kilshaw of Liverpool, England.

In the winter of 1855, four years after her father's death, she and her mother moved to London. Charlotte was visited by death again the following year when her mother died.

In 1857, she married Joseph Hadley Riddell, a civil engineer, originally from Staffordshire but resident in London. It is known that they moved to live in St John's Lodge between Harringay and West Green in the mid-1860s, moving out in 1873 as the area was being built up. There were no children of the marriage.[1]

Her first novel, The Moors and the Fens, appeared in 1858. She issued it under the pseudonym of F. G. Trafford, which she only abandoned for her own name in 1864.

Novels and tales followed in quick succession, and between 1858 and 1902 she issued thirty volumes. The most notable is perhaps George Geith of Fen Court, by F. G. Trafford (1864; other editions 1865, 1886), for which Tinsley paid her £800. It was dramatised in 1883 by Wybert Reeve, was produced at Scarborough, and was afterwards played in Australia.

From 1867, Mrs. Riddell was co-proprietor and editor of the St. James's Magazine, which had been started in 1861 under Mrs. S. C. Hall. She also edited a magazine called Home in the sixties, and wrote short tales for the Society for the Promotion of Christian Knowledge and Routledge's Christmas annuals. Her short stories were less successful than her novels.[1]

Riddell was also prominent as a writer of ghost stories. Five of her novels—Fairy Water, The Uninhabited House, The Haunted River, The Disappearance of Mr. Jeremiah Redworth and The Nun's Curse—deal with buildings blighted by supernatural phenomena.[2] Riddell also wrote several shorter ghost stories, such as "The Open Door" and "Nut Bush Farm", which were collected in the volume Weird Stories.[2]

Her husband died in 1880. After 1886, she lived in seclusion at Upper Halliford, Middlesex. She was the first pensioner of the Society of Authors, receiving a pension of £60 a year in May 1901.[1] She died from cancer in Ashford, Kent, on 24 September 1906.[3]


Mrs. Riddell, by making commerce the theme of many of her novels, introduced a new element into English fiction, although Balzac had naturalised it in the French novel. She was intimately acquainted with the topography of the City of London, where the scenes of her novels were often laid. At the same time she possessed a rare power of describing places of which she had no first-hand knowledge. When she wrote The Moors and the Fens she had never seen the district.[1]


Her publications included:


Cover of The Uninhabited House
  • Zuriel's Grandchild (1856)
  • The Ruling Passion (1857)
  • The Moors and the Fens (1857)
  • The Rich Husband (1858)
  • Too Much Alone (1860)
  • City and Suburb (1861)
  • The World in Church (1862)
  • George Geith of Fen Court (1864)
  • Maxwell Drewitt (1865)
  • Phemie Keller (1866)
  • The Race for Wealth (1866)
  • Far Above Rubies (1867)
  • My First Love (1869)
  • Austin Friars (1870)
  • Long Ago (1870)
  • A Life's Assize (1871)
  • How to Spend a Month in Ireland (1872)
  • The Earl's Promise (1873)
  • Home, Sweet Home (1873)
  • Fairy Water (1873)
  • Mortomley's Estate (1874)
  • The Haunted House at Latchford (aka Fairy Water) (1872)
  • The Uninhabited House (1875)
  • Above Suspicion (1876)
  • The Haunted River (1877)
  • Her Mother's Darling (1877)
  • The Disappearance of Jeremiah Redworth (1878)
  • Maxwell Drewitt (1879)
  • The Mystery in Palace Gardens (1880)
  • Alaric Spenceley (1881)
  • The Senior Partner (1881)
  • A Struggle for Fame (1883 – republished in 2015 by Tramp Press)[4][5]
  • Susan Drummond (1884)
  • Berna Boyle: A Love Story of the County Down (1884)[6]
  • Mitre Court (1885)
  • The Government Official (1887)
  • The Nun's Curse (1888)
  • Head of the Firm (1892)
  • Daisies and Buttercups (c. 1900)[6]


  • Frank Sinclair's Wife: And Other Stories (1874)
  • Weird Stories (1882)
  • Idle Tales (1887)
  • Princess Sunshine: And Other Stories (1889)
  • Handsome Phil: And Other Stories (1899)
  • The Collected Ghost Stories of Mrs J. H. Riddell (1977)

Anthologies containing Riddell stories

  • The 7th Fontana Book of Great Ghost Stories (1971)
  • Victorian Tales of Terror (1972)
  • The Penguin Book of Classic Fantasy by Women (1977)
  • Gaslit Nightmares (1988)
  • 100 Ghastly Little Ghost Stories (1992)
  • The Mammoth Book of Haunted House Stories (2000)

Short stories

  • "Banshee's Warning" (1867)
  • "A Strange Christmas Game" (1868)
  • "Forewarned, Forearmed" (1874)
  • "Hertford O'Donnell's Warning" (1874)
  • "Nut Bush Farm" (1882)
  • "The Old House in Vauxhall Walk" (1882)
  • "Old Mrs Jones" (1882)
  • '"The Open Door" (1882)
  • "Sandy the Tinker" (1882)
  • "Walnut-Tree House" (1882)
  • "The Last of Squire Ennismore" (1888)
  • "A Terrible Vengeance" (1889)
  • "Why Dr Cray Left Southam" (1889)
  • "Conn Kilrea" (1899)
  • "The Rusty Sword" (1893)
  • "Diarmid Chittock's Story" (1899)
  • "Handsome Phil" (1899)


  1. ^ a b c d Lee 1912.
  2. ^ a b J. L. Campbell, Sr., "Mrs. J. H. Riddell", in E. F. Bleiler, ed. Supernatural Fiction Writers (New York: Scribner's, 1985), (pp.269–278. ) ISBN 0-684-17808-7
  3. ^ Ellis, S M (1934). Wilkie Collins, Le Fanu and Others. Constable.
  4. ^ Coen, Lisa; Davis-Goff, Sarah (2014-12-19). "Rediscovering neglected texts and muted voices". The Irish Times. Retrieved 2015-05-10.
  5. ^ Dillon, Cathy (2014-12-01). "Word for Word: everything old is newly reissued again". The Irish Times. Retrieved 2015-05-10.
  6. ^ a b Women Writers R–Z (catalogue, London: Jarndyce, 2012).

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainLee, Elizabeth (1912). "Riddell, Charlotte Eliza Lawson" . In Lee, Sidney. Dictionary of National Biography, 1912 supplement​. London: Smith, Elder & Co.

External links

1832 in Ireland

Events from the year 1832 in Ireland.

1832 in literature

This article presents lists of the literary events and publications in 1832.

1864 in literature

This article presents lists of the literary events and publications in 1864.

—Opening of Our Mutual Friend

1883 in literature

This article presents lists of the literary events and publications in 1883.

1906 in literature

This article presents lists of the literary events and publications in 1906.


Carrickfergus (from Irish: Carraig Fhearghais, meaning "Fergus's rock") is a large town in County Antrim, Northern Ireland. It sits on the north shore of Belfast Lough, 11 miles (18 km) from Belfast. The town had a population of 27,903 at the 2011 Census. It is County Antrim's oldest town and one of the oldest towns in Ireland as a whole. Carrickfergus was the administrative centre for Carrickfergus Borough Council, before this was amalgamated into the Mid and East Antrim District Council in 2015, and forms part of the Belfast Metropolitan Area. It is also a townland of 65 acres, a civil parish and a barony.The town is the subject of the classic Irish folk song "Carrickfergus", a 19th-century translation of an Irish-language song (Do Bhí Bean Uasal) from Munster, which begins with the words, "I wish I was in Carrickfergus".The British peerage title of Baron Carrickfergus, which had become extinct in 1883, was bestowed upon Prince William on his wedding day in 2011.

The Town is home to Saint Nicholas' Parish Church, which was established in 1180 and is still in use as a place of worship today (service times: Sunday: 9:30am Holy Communion, 11.00am Morning Worship, (Holy Communion first Sunday of month) 6:30pm Evening Worship and Cafe Church (Holy Communion 3rd Sunday of month) Wednesday: 10:00am Holy Communion.)

There are also other notable churches such as that of North Street Presbyterian Church which was one of the first Presbyterian churches to be established in Ireland. (Sevices on Sunday: 9:30am, 11.00am and 6:30pm). There are many other churches beyond these.

Ghost story

A ghost story may be any piece of fiction, or drama, that includes a ghost, or simply takes as a premise the possibility of ghosts or characters' belief in them. The "ghost" may appear of its own accord or be summoned by magic. Linked to the ghost is the idea of "hauntings", where a supernatural entity is tied to a place, object or person. Ghost stories are commonly examples of ghostlore.

Colloquially, the term "ghost story" can refer to any kind of scary story. In a narrower sense, the ghost story has been developed as a short story format, within genre fiction. It is a form of supernatural fiction and specifically of weird fiction, and is often a horror story.

While ghost stories are often explicitly meant to be scary, they have been written to serve all sorts of purposes, from comedy to morality tales. Ghosts often appear in the narrative as sentinels or prophets of things to come. Belief in ghosts is found in all cultures around the world, and thus ghost stories may be passed down orally or in written form.

Ghosts (anthology)

Ghosts is an anthology of themed fantasy and science fiction short stories on the subject of ghosts edited by Isaac Asimov, Martin H. Greenberg and Charles G. Waugh as the tenth volume in their Isaac Asimov's Magical Worlds of Fantasy series. It was first published in paperback by Signet/New American Library in December 1988. The first British edition was issued in trade paperback by Robinson in October 1989.The book collects fourteen novelettes and short stories by various fantasy and science fiction authors, with an introduction by Asimov.

List of Irish women writers

This is a list of women writers who were born in Ireland or whose writings are closely associated with that country.

List of Wishbone books

This is a list of all books based on the Wishbone TV series. All were Children's novels published under the Big Red Chair Books moniker.

London Society

London Society was a Victorian era illustrated monthly periodical, subtitled "an illustrated magazine of light and amusing literature for the hours of relaxation". It was published between 1862 and 1898 by W. Clowes and Sons, London. The magazine published miscellaneous articles, short fiction (mostly anonymous), and serialized novels. The Stanford Companion to Victorian Fiction called it "an inferior imitator of Smith's Cornhill".Literary contributors included Charlotte Riddell, whose novels Above Suspicion (1874) and The Senior Partner (1881-2) were serialized; Florence Marryat (Open Sesame); and a pre-Sherlock Holmes Arthur Conan Doyle. Illustrators included Mary Ellen Edwards, Randolph Caldecott, Harry Furniss, F. A. Fraser, and George Cruikshank.

Riddell (surname)

Riddell as a surname may refer to:

Riddell baronets

Henry Scott Riddell (1798–1870), Scottish poet and songwriter

Archibald Riddell (minister) a 17th-century Presbyterian church minister in Scotland and America.

Archibald Riddell (farmer) (1864–1912), Canadian farmer and politician

Alan Riddell, labour relations lawyer

Arthur George Riddell (1836–1907), Roman Catholic Bishop of Northampton

Campbell Drummond Riddell (1796–1858), Australian Colonial public servant

Carol Anne Riddell, education reporter and co-anchor for WNBC-TV news

Charlotte Riddell (1832–1906), writer of the Victorian period

Chris Riddell (born 1962), British illustrator, cartoonist and writer of children's books

Clay Riddell (1937-2018), Canadian billionaire, founder and CEO of Paramount Resources

Derek Riddell (born 1967), Scottish television actor

Don Riddell (born 1972), English news anchor and sports journalist

Elizabeth Riddell (1910–1998), Australian poet and journalist

Gary Riddell (1966–1989), Scottish footballer

George Riddell, 1st Baron Riddell (1865–1934), British solicitor, newspaper proprietor and public servant

George W. Riddell, Pinkerton labor spy

Hannah Riddell (1855–1932), English woman who devoted her life to the salvation of Hansen's disease patients in Japan

James Riddell (disambiguation), multiple people

Jim Riddell, New Zealand rugby player

John Riddell (disambiguation), multiple people

Mark Riddell (born 1981), Australian rugby player

Mike Riddell (born 1953), New Zealand writer

Neil Riddell (born 1947), English cricketer

Norman Riddell (1887–1918), English footballer

Peter Riddell, British journalist and author

Rachel Riddell (born 1984), Canadian water polo player

Ray Riddell (born 1919), Australian football player

Richard Riddell, American lighting designer

Robert Riddell (1755–1794), Laird of Friar's Carse, near Dumfries, Scotland, and a friend of Robert Burns

Rosemary Riddell, New Zealand actor, film director and judge

Victor Riddell (1905–1976), English cricketer

Walter Alexander Riddell (1881–1963), Canadian civil servant and diplomat

William Riddell (1807–1847), Roman Catholic bishop

William Renwick Riddell (1852–1945), Canadian lawyer, judge, and historian

W. J. B. Riddell aka Brownlow Riddell (1899-1976), Scottish opthmalogist

Tramp Press

Tramp Press is a publishing company founded in Dublin in 2014 by Lisa Coen and Sarah Davis-Goff. It is an independent publisher that specialises in Irish fiction. The company is named after John Millington Synge's tramp, a reference to the bold outsider.

West Green, London

West Green is an area of north London, England, in the United Kingdom and part of the London Borough of Haringey. It is an inner-suburban area located 5.7 miles (9.22 km) north of Charing Cross.

The area is mainly residential and includes both Chestnuts and Downhills parks. Its area is roughly defined by Downhills Park in the North and Northeast, by Cornwall Road to the East, a line running between Cranleigh and Stanley Roads to the South, Harringay Road and Stanmore Road to the West and Northwest.

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