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Margaret Veley (1843-1887), A Marriage of Shadows, and other poems. Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott, 1889. Courtesy Internet Archive.

Margaret Veley (12 May 1843 - 7 December 1887) was an English poet and novelist.


Veley was the 2nd daughter of Augustus Charles Veley, by his wife Sophia, daughter of Thomas Ludbey, rector of Cranham. She was born at Braintree, Essex, where her father practised as a solicitor, being mainly occupied with the ecclesiastical business of the district.[1]

Margaret was educated at home with the exception of a term spent at Queen's College, Tufnell Park. She became proficient in French literature. Although she began early on to write both prose and verse, she published nothing until 1870. Her earliest published poem, "Michaelmas Daisies," appeared in the Spectator in April 1870, and that September she published a short story, "Milly's First Love," in Blackwood's Magazine.[1]

In 1872 she began her best and most successful novel, For Percival. It appeared as a serial in the Cornhill Magazine (September–December 1878), then under the editorship of Leslie Stephe. It was immediately published in book form, and was well received. Written in a clear and pointed style, it showed a strong sense of humour and keen perception of character.[2]

Veley, who took interest in many things besides literature, was very shy and completely free from vanity. Melancholy consequent on the deaths of 2 of her married sisters in 1877 and 1885, and of her father in 1879, strongly affected her later writings.[2]

In 1880 she moved to London. The stories "Mrs. Austin" and "Damocles" appeared serially in the Cornhill in 1880 and 1882 respectively. Mitchelhurst Place appeared serially in Macmillan's Magazine in 1884, and there was a 2-volume edition in that year, and an edition in 1 volume in 1885. A Garden of Memories ran through the English Illustrated Magazine from July to September 1886, and was published in 2 volumes in 1887.[2]

Veley died on 7 December 1887, after a short illness. She was buried on 10 December in Braintree cemetery.[2]


Critical introductionEdit

by George Saintsbury

A poetess who has scarcely received the credit she deserved was Margaret Veley, whose scanty but excellent verse will be found in a posthumous collection prefaced by Sir Leslie Stephen and entitled A Marriage of Shadows, and other poems. The author was a novelist also, but, in that department too, was not voluminous; and she died in rather early middle age.

It is particularly interesting to compare her work with that of Mrs. Clive (“V”), because the strong resemblance between them, in general, brings out the difference between the 1st and 2nd halves of the [19th] century. Both in thought and expression of a similar attitude, and in formal and verbal utterance, Veley’s melancholy is vaguer and fainter than her senior’s; her metrical devices and her vocabulary are more elaborate; she is sometimes rather more obscure and more deliberately artistic, though the elaboration and deliberation are not in the least affected. Her art, in fact, is, though not consciously, more sophisticated. But her accomplishment is various and almost great.

Her chief work, "A Japanese Fan," is really something of a positive masterpiece of quiet ironic passion, suitably phrased in verse. The title poem of her book and "The Unknown Land" deserve an honourable place among the phantasmagorias in irregular Pindaric which have formed a great feature of later 19th-century poetry; while, among definite lyrics, "Michaelmas Daisies" may stand as a representative document for the survey of the subject of this chapter with which it should conclude."[3]




  • For Percival. London: Smith, Elder, 1878; Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott, 1879.
  • Damocles. London: Smith, Elder, 1882
    • published in U.S. as Rachel's Inheritance; or, Damocles: A novel. New York: Harper, 1882.
  • Mitchellhurst Place: A novel. (2 volumes), London: Macmillan, 1884. Volume I, Volume II
  • A Garden of Memories / Mrs. Austin / Lizzie's Bargain. (2 volumes), London & New York: Macmillan, 1887. Volume I, Volume II

Except where noted, bibliographical information courtesy WorldCat.[4]

See alsoEdit


  • PD-icon.svg Lee, Elizabeth (1899) "Veley, Margaret" in Lee, Sidney Dictionary of National Biography 58 London: Smith, Elder, pp. 201-202 . Wikisource, Web, Mar. 7, 2017.



  1. 1.0 1.1 Lee, 201.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Lee, 202.
  3. George Saintsbury, "Margaret Veley," VI. Lesser Poets of the Middle and Later Nineteenth Century, Cambridge History of English and American Literature, Volume XIII, New York: Putnam / Cambridge, UK: Cambrige University Press, 1907–21., Web, Mar. 7, 2017.
  4. Search results = au:Margaret Veley, WorldCat, OCLC Online Computer Library Center Inc. Web, Mar. 7, 2017.

External linksEdit


This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain, the Dictionary of National Biography (edited by Leslie Stephen). London: Smith, Elder, 1885-1900. Original article is at: Veley, Margaret