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At the Circulating Library

A Database of Victorian Fiction, 1837–1901

A Database of Victorian Fiction, 1837–1901

Author: Catherine Dorothea Burdett

Author: Catherine Dorothea Burdett (1784–1861)

Alternate Name(s): Browne (maiden name)

Biography: Catherine Dorothea Burdett was born in Dublin in 1784, the only child of Col. William Browne of Glennagary. Her father served in the American revolution, including the battle of Bunker Hill, and worked afterwards as a recruitment agent in Ireland. In 1806, she married the widower Capt. George Burdett, R.N., of Longtown House, county Kildare. He served in the Napoleonic wars and in the War of 1812 with America. They had three children. After her father's death in 1813, the Irish government asked for an account of the £1.5 million appropriated to him for recruiting. As executrix Burdett was unable to provide one, and the case dragged on until 1824 when she settled with the government for £170,000. In 1827, she published her first novel, English Fashionables Abroad: A Novel, or as one review called it, "a tour, under the mask of a tale." The book follows the travels of a group of English in Italy based on Burdett's own experiences. The following year she wrote a sequel, At Home: A Novel (1828). Burdett's husband died suddenly in Brighton in 1832 after a chemist's assistant mistakenly mislabeled oil of tar as his prescription. Burdett wrote one later novel, Walter Hamilton (1846), whose eponymous protagonist is unjustly accused, tried, and condemned for fraud—likely based on the experiences of her father. She died in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, in 1861.

References: Poor Man's Guardian (10 March 1832); Gentleman's Magazine (June 1832); Times (18 May 1861)

Fiction Titles:

  1. English Fashionables Abroad: A Novel.  3 vol.  London: Henry Colburn, 1827.
  2. Walter Hamilton: A Novel.  3 vol.  London: T. C. Newby, 1846.