Eliza Parsons, 1739-1811


Biographical note

English gothic novelist.

She was born in Plymouth in 1739 to a comfortable middle class family and moved to London when her husband's turpentine business was affected by the American War of Independence. The family's fortunes were further debilitated by a warehouse fire and when he died in 1790, Eliza was left alone with eight children. She turned to novel writing to support her large family and produced 19 two volume novels, many of which were in the romantic or gothic vein so popular at the time.

Despite her literary earnings, Eliza remained short of money. Between 1793 and 1803 she received 45 guineas from the Royal Literary Fund and also worked at the Royal Wardrobe. She was imprisoned for debts she had accrued at one point, but the fund's aid saw her released in 1803. She died on the 5 February 1811 in Leytonstone in Essex, leaving behind four married daughters.


  • The History of Miss Meredith [1790]
  • The Castle of Wolfenbach, a German story [1793]
  • The Mysterious Warning, a German Tale [1796]
  • Women as They Are [1797]
  • Anecdotes of Well-Known Families [1798]
  • The Valley of St. Gothard [1799]
  • The Girl of the Mountains: a Novel [1797]
  • An Old Friend with a New Face: a Novel [1797]
  • The Miser and His Family: a Novel [1800]
  • The Peasant of Ardenne Forest: a Novel [1801]
  • Murray House: 'A Plain Unvarnished Tale' [1801]
  • The Mysterious Visit: a Novel, Founded on Facts [1802]
  • The Convict, or Navy Lieutenant: a Novel [1807]
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