Ella D'Arcy, 1857-1937

Portrait

Biographical note

British author of short fiction.

Constance Eleanor Mary Byrne D'Arcy was born to an Irish family in London in 1857. One of nine children, she was educated in London, Germany, France and the Channel Islands. Although a student of fine art, D'Arcy abandoned this career, allegedly on the grounds of poor eyesight, in favour of becoming an author. She was a significant contributor to the Yellow Book, and unofficial assistant to the editor, Henry Harland.

D'Arcy's work is characterised by a psychologically realist style – often attracting comparisons with Henry James – and her determination to engage with themes such as marriage, the family, deception and imitation. Many of her stories also demonstrate the influence of her time in the Channel Islands, most notably "White Magic".

Recognition of D'Arcy's work grew after the publication of "Irremediable", with The Bookman among others, noting the story as praiseworthy. Alongside her work in the Yellow Book, D'Arcy also published in Argosy, Blackwood's Magazine, and Temple Bar. Her work on the Yellow Book bought her into contact with the publisher John Lane, who initially published her collection of short stories, Monochromes (1895), and went to publish her further works, Modern Instances (1898), and The Bishop’s Dilemma (1898), under the Bodley Head imprint. As well as writing fiction, D'Arcy also translated into English André Maurois's biography of Percy Bysshe Shelley, Ariel (1924).

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