The themes Caroline Elizabeth Sarah Norton wrote about


Caroline Elizabeth Sarah Norton was a famous British society beauty, feminist, social reformer, and author of the early and mid nineteenth century.

Youth and Marriage

Caroline was born in London, England to Thomas Sheridan and Caroline Henrietta Callander. Her father was an actor, soldier, and colonial administrator, and the son of the prominent Irish playwright and Whig statesman Richard Brinsley Sheridan. Her mother was Scottish, the daughter of a landed gentleman, Col. Sir James Callander of Craigforth and Lady Elizabeth MacDonnell, the sister of an Irish peer, Lord Antrim. Mrs. Sheridan authored three short novels described by one her daughter's biographers as "rather stiff with the style of the eighteenth century, but none without a certain charm and wit..."

In 1817, her father died in South Africa, where he was serving as the colonial secretary at the Cape of Good Hope.His family was left virtually penniless. The Duke of York, an old friend of her grandfather's, arranged for Caroline's family to live at Hampton Court Palace in a "grace and favour" apartment, where they remained for several years.

The combined beauty and accomplishments of the Sheridan sisters led to them being collectively referred to as the Three "Graces". The eldest sister, Helen, was a song-writer who married the 4th Baron Dufferin and Claneboye. Through her, Caroline became the aunt of the 1st Marquess of Dufferin and Ava, who later served as the third Governor General of Canada and eighth Viceroy of India. Her younger sister, Georgiana, considered the prettiest of the three, later became the Duchess of Somerset.

In 1827, Caroline married the Hon. George Chapple Norton, barrister, M.P. for Guildford, and the younger brother of Lord Grantley. Norton was a jealous and possessive husband, given to violent fits of drunkenness, and the union quickly proved unhappy due to his mental and physical abuse of Caroline. To make matters worse, Norton was unsuccessful in his chosen career as a barrister, and the couple fought bitterly over money.

During the early years of her marriage, Caroline used her beauty, wit, and political connections, to establish herself as a major society hostess.Caroline's unorthodox behaviour and candid conversation raised more than a few eyebrows among 19th-century British high society; she made enemies and admirers in almost equal measure. Among her friends she counted such literary and political luminaries as Samuel Rogers, Edward Bulwer-Lytton, Edward Trelawney, Mary Shelley, Fanny Kemble, Benjamin Disraeli, the future King Leopold I of Belgium and William Cavendish, 6th Duke of Devonshire.

In spite of his jealousy and pride, Norton encouraged his wife to use her connections to advance his career. It was entirely due to her influence that in 1831 he was made a Metropolitan Police Magistrate.

During these years, Caroline turned to prose and poetry as a means of releasing her inner emotions. Her first book, The Sorrows of Rosalie (1829), was well received.The Undying One (1830), a romance founded upon the legend of the Wandering Jew soon followed.

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