Ouida, 1839-1908


Biographical note

Pseudonym of the English novelist Maria Louise Ramé. During her career, she wrote more than 40 novels, children's books and collections of short stories and essays.

Her first novel, Held in Bondage was published in 1863, when she was 24. In her early period, her novels were considered "racy" and "swashbuckling", a contrast to "the moralistic prose of early Victorian literature" comprising a hybrid of the sensationalism of the 1860s and the proto-adventure novels that were being published in part as a romanticisation of imperial expansion. Later her work was more typically historical romance, though she never stopped comment on contemporary society. She also wrote several stories for children.

One of her most famous novels, Under Two Flags, described the British in Algeria and expressed sympathy for the French — with whom Ouida deeply identified — and, to some extent, the Arabs. This book was adapted for the stage and also produced four times as a film.

The American author Jack London cited her novel Signa, which he read at age eight, as one of the eight reasons for his literary success.


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