Camilla Dufour Crosland

Camilla Dufour Crosland (born Camilla Dufour Toulmin, also known as Mrs. Newton Crosland, 1812–1895) was an English writer of fiction, poetry, essays and sketches. She also translated some plays and poetry by Victor Hugo.


She was born on 9 June 1812 at Aldermanbury, London, where her father, William Toulmin, practised as a solicitor; her grandfather, Dr William Toulmin, was a physician of repute. She was a precocious girl, who could read at the age of three[1] and loved reading, although she lacked a systematic education. She had two half-brothers by her father's first marriage and a younger brother by his second.[2] Her father, who had money troubles, died when Camilla was eight, and his widow and daughter were not provided for.[3]

Camilla Toulmin first appeared in print in 1838, with verse contributions to the Book of Beauty.[2] She was also involved in editorial work, for the annuals The Keepsake, on behalf of Marguerite Power, and Friendship's Offering, as deputy to Leitch Ritchie.[4]

Crosland was acquainted with numerous literary women, who included Mary Cowden Clarke, Mary Howitt, Mary Russell Mitford, Geraldine Jewsbury, Catherine Crowe, Lady Blessington and Frances Browne. She was especially close to Dinah Mulock, later Craik, who acted as her bridesmaid on 22 July 1848, when she married Newton Crosland, a London wine merchant with literary and scientific tastes. Crosland and her husband became interested in spiritualism in 1854[1] and discussed it in 1857 with the Brownings in Italy.[2][3]

After living for nearly 38 years in Blackheath, Camilla Crosland moved in 1886 to 29 Ondine Road, East Dulwich, where she died on 16 February 1895. A memorial window has been placed to her memory in St Alban's Cathedral.[3]


Crosland contributed work in many genres – poems, stories illustrating the condition of the poor, essays, and biographical and historical sketches – to periodicals such as The People's Journal, The London Journal, Bentley's Miscellany, the Old Monthly Magazine, The Illustrated London News, Douglas Jerrold's Magazine, Ainsworth's Magazine, and to annuals. For more than 50 years she was a regular contributor to Chambers's Journal, and at the time of her death she was its writer of longest standing.[3]

Crosland published Light in the Valley: My Experiences of Spiritualism (1857), which has been described as a "credulous record" and was received badly by the public. In 1865 she published a three-volume novel, Mrs. Blake; in 1871 the Diamond Wedding, and other Poems; and in 1873 a second novel, Hubert Freeth's Prosperity. Among her later productions were translations of Victor Hugo's plays, Hernani and Ruy Blas, with some of his poems, which appeared in Bohn's Library.[5] In 1893 came her final work, Landmarks of a Literary Life,[3][6] which is feminist in tone. Her husband's autobiography, Rambles Round My Life (1898) includes some extracts from her autobiographical writings that had remained in manuscript.[2]

She wrote also:[3]

  • Lays and Legends illustrative of English Life (with engravings), 1845
  • Poems, 1846
  • Partners for Life: a Christmas Story, 1847
  • Stratagems: a Story for Young People, 1849
  • Toil and Trial: a Story of London Life, 1849
  • Lydia: a Woman's Book, 1852
  • Stray Leaves from Shady Places, 1852
  • English Tales and Sketches (published in America in 1853)
  • Memorable Women, 1854
  • Hildred, the Daughter, 1855
  • The Island of the Rainbow, 1865
  • Stories of the City of London, retold for Youthful Readers, 1880


  1. ^ a b John Sutherland: The Longman Companion to Victorian Fiction (London: Routledge, 2009 [1988]), p. 162 Retrieved 8 November 2015
  2. ^ a b c d The Feminist Companion to Literature in English, eds Virginia Blain, Patricia Clements and Isobel Grundy (London: Batsford, 1990), p. 251.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Lee, Sidney, ed. (1899). "Toulmin, Camilla Dufour" . Dictionary of National Biography. Vol. 57. London: Smith, Elder & Co.
  4. ^ Alison Adburgham (15 May 2012). Women in Print: Writing Women and Women's Magazines from the Restoration to the Accession of Victoria. Faber & Faber. pp. 261–2. ISBN 978-0-571-29525-8.
  5. ^ "The Oubliettes", a poem by Camilla Dufour Crosland based on Victor Hugo, describing an offence against the modesty of a sleeping woman, can be read here: Retrieved 8 November 2015.
  6. ^ A full online text: Retrieved 8 November 2015

  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainLee, Sidney, ed. (1899). "Toulmin, Camilla Dufour". Dictionary of National Biography. Vol. 57. London: Smith, Elder & Co.

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