Sunday, February 3, 2019

Elizabeth Whiteley

Elizabeth Whiteley (b. reg. Halifax, Yorkshire, Jan-Mar 1879; untraced after c.1906)

Elizabeth Whiteley was the second child of Thomas Whiteley (1847-1893), a house painter, and Dorothy Gratton (1847-1912), who were married in Derbyshire in early 1874. Their first child had been a son, John Henry Whiteley (1875-1880).

In 1894, after her husband's death, Dorothy Whiteley married James Hutchinson (1844-1919), a wool sorter who was a widower with one son, Henry Hutchinson (1871-1962).  The family made their home in central Halifax.  In the 1901 UK Census, Elizabeth is listed as a music teacher. She was also, according to a 1905 profile in Yorkshire Notes and Queries, a vocalist and  a solo violinist of considerable ability. She also apparently contributed many short stories to the local papers.

Her only book was the novel, The Devil's Throne (London:  Digby, Long, [October] 1903), one which George Locke listed as "a forerunner of the mystical but very imaginative type of interplanetary which was to culminate in David Lindsay's A Voyage to Arcturus." Some reviews give some flavor of the book:
On the title-page we find the words "And lo! I beheld a serpent-throne, and a beauteous woman." On the vellum square, over which the two characters are poring as the story opens, was written in cabalistic letters a description of "The Devil's Throne," which was hidden behind the orb of the lambent moon. Thither they fare in the flying machine which is ready made for the purpose, and before long we are in a phantasmagoria in which we distinguish at intervals Circe, Marcus Aurelius, and the two investigators. For sheer extravagance this story surpasses anything we have met with in recent fiction.  The Academy and Literature, 21 November 1903

In The Devil's Throne, a father and daughter set out on a series of adventures in a wonderful airship, reaching all sorts of extraordinary countries in the clouds, encountering a tribe of feathered dwarfs and other marvellous creatures, and undergoing all sorts of strange hardships and transformations in the ethereal regions. The Bookseller, 6 November 1903

A singular and thrilling story. The story of a "she-devil" disguised as a beautiful and attractive woman who lures men to destruction.  The Bristol Mercury, from a Digby, Long catalogue
Presumably on the basis of her published novel, Elizabeth was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature on 27 April 1904.  In the Royal Society of Literature "List of Fellows" for 1906 the following entry appears:
Mrs. Elizabeth Boyle (formerly Miss Elizabeth Whiteley), 9, Orange Street, Bloemfontein, O.E.C., South Africa. 
After this migration to southern Africa she disappears from public information. I can find no record of her marriage or death, and would welcome any knowledge of her later life.

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