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Dorothea Primrose Campbell (4 May 1793 – 6 January 1863) was a Shetland poet, novelist and teacher. As well as authoring a novel, Harley Radington: A Tale (1821),[1] Campbell had poems and works of short fiction printed in London periodicals.[2] Despite a difficult life, Campbell continued to share her talent with the world in the face of family trauma, poverty, and ethnic and gender discrimination. Her melodic and whimsical poems and works of fiction are regarded as revealing works of English literature, containing themes reminiscent of historical and societal barriers Campbell faced due to her own circumstances.[2]

Contents

LifeEdit

Early life and family difficultiesEdit

Dorothea Primrose Campbell was born in Lerwick, Shetland, Scotland on the fourth of May in 1793.[3] On the eleventh of May in 1793, Dorothea Primrose Campbell was baptised at her birthplace, Lerwick.[3] Her father, Duncan Campbell, was a surgeon who had married one of the Scotts of Scottshall in Scalloway, Elizabeth (Eliza), the eldest of a large family.[3]

Dorothea was the eldest sibling of her family as well. It is recorded that she had a younger sister and two brothers.[4] Dorothea's life was full of many difficulties. Besides her family's perpetual struggle with hereditary debts from her grandfather, her mother struggled with opium addiction, and her father died when she was just sixteen.[2]

TeachingEdit

Dorothea Primrose Campbell was well educated. It appears that she began writing poetry at a very young age, and used her writing abilities to support her family. By 1812 Campbell became a teacher.[5] In 1813, Campbell opened her own school at Lerwick.[5] Through her Scott family connection she met Sir Walter Scott, a distant relative, during his tour of the north of Scotland aboard the Lighthouse Commission's yacht. Scott was encouraging, and even shipped her a piano for the little school to teach the children of the gentry she had established in Lerwick. Sadly, the school closed due to Campbell's poor health and her mother's opium addiction.[5]

After the closure of the school, Campbell worked as a schoolteacher to support her family with her own earnings.[2] Between 1817 and 1821, Campbell corresponded with Walter Scott and he offered both moral and financial support to her.[6] Despite this financial support, her debt is apparent in court records revealing that she owed small sums to creditors in 1822, 1823, and 1835.[7] In 1841, Campbell was invited to move from Shetland to England to work as a governess to Dr Clarke's family, which consisted of his daughter, Eliza Frances Hook, and Eliza's husband, James Hook.[5] Unfortunately, after Campbell arrived in England, the Clarke family went bankrupt and Campbell was left unemployed in England.[2] In the 1841 England Census, she is listed as governess to the seven children of the Richard Smith family at Stoke Newington, Middlesex.[8]

Prejudice, perseverance and downfallEdit

Campbell struggled to find work, applying to several jobs with no luck. Because she was a woman over forty and a Shetlander, prejudices against her race, age, and sex made it nearly impossible to find work.[5][9][2] Eventually, Campbell applied to the Royal Literary Fund in 1844 after having been unemployed for some time.[5] The Royal Literary Fund paid her £30 which helped her to get by.[5] She was also able to find a job teaching at Sevenoaks.[5] In the 1851 England Census, Campbell is listed as living alone at 16 Quartre Bras, Hexham, Northumberland, assisted by a pension from the Governesses' Benevolent Institution.[10]

DeathEdit

In January of 1863, Campbell died at the Aged Governess' Asylum in Kentish Town in London, where she had been living as an inmate at the time of the 1861 England Census.[11][12] Undoubtedly, the Asylum was run by the Governesses' Benevolent Institution.[2] On 10 January 1863, she was buried at the formerly existing parish of St. James, Hampstead Road, St. Pancras, Camden.[13]

WritingsEdit

Poems, Inverness (1811)Edit

Campbell had a talent for writing poetry and short fiction. Aspiring to relieve her family's grim financial status, Campbell corresponded with publisher J. Young. Consequently, due to Young's support and sympathy, Campbell's Poems were published in duodecimo at Inverness in 1811.[7][2]

According to records, Dorothea Primrose Campbell was only 10 years old when she wrote Address to the Evening Star.[2] Despite the work being published in 1811 (when Campbell was 18), Campbell mentioned its earlier date of composition in 1816.[7] One critique notes that Campbell's poems published at Inverness "do not read like juvenilia. They are flowing, expressive, verbally and musically skilled, whether in conventional poetic diction or more colloquial mode."[2]

Poems, London (1816)Edit

In November 1816 Campbell issued a second edition of Poems by subscription in London.[7] The subscribers were mostly people from Lerwick and London. It included some poems from her first volume as well.[2] "Campbell frequently expresses the sorrow and nostalgia of exile, and sometimes a longing for a wider prospect."[2] Campbell's financial straits are clear as her "tone becomes progressively darker, dwelling on death and the slights meted out to poverty."[2] Unfortunately the poems did not bring Campbell prosperity. The publisher is thought to have gone bankrupt and only half the stock of 500 copies was sold by April 1818,[7][5][2] though Sarah Josepha Hale noted of the book in Woman's Record (1853), "The character of her poetry, chiefly suggested by the wild, rough scenery with which she lives surrounded, is healthy in its tone and breathes of home and heaven."[14]

Harley Radington: A Tale (1821)Edit

In October of 1821, A.K. Newman, owner of the Minerva Press, published Harley Radington: A Tale, Dorothea Primrose Campbell's only known novel.[15][1] The tale itself (a tribute to her birthplace, Shetland Islands) impressed and caught the attention of a handful of readers. In 1823, one reader, William Scott Burn, exalted Campbell's writing capabilities in a letter to his friend: "I read your Miss Campbell's Harley Radington when I was ill – that woman has very considerable talent, and should be encouraged to employ it oftener."[16] It appears that Campbell was attempting to have her novel to fit into the category of a national tale, similar to previous works set in Ireland and Scotland Highlands.[17] In a letter to Walter Scott from September of 1821, she writes, "I have published an attempt at a 'Zetland Tale'".[18] Presumably, Campbell decided to subtitle the book "A Tale" over "A Zetland Tale" due to her uncertainty that the Shetland Islands would be accepted by the public as a novel "set in the regions of Great Britain," as Shetland was revered by many in Britain as a "little-known country" at the time.[17] According to Penny Fielding, researcher and Professor of English at the University of Edinburgh, "The novel focuses on the journey of the metropolitan hero to a distant part of the nation where he has family associations, and touches on questions of gender, superstition, ethnography, land improvement, and travel."[17]

Campbell as Ora, the Lady's Monthly Museum (c. 1813–1853)Edit

Additionally, recently discovered evidence has revealed that Campbell was a member of the Lady's Monthly Museum for a number of years.[19] During this time, Campbell adopted a pseudonym, "Ora from Thule," under which she published 53 poems and tales.[7] One of these poems, "The Apollonian Wreath," begins,

O hail! thou solitary star!
To me how dear thy dewy ray,
Which kindly streaming from afar,
Illumes a pensive wand'rer's way.
[...]
For while beneath thy lovely light,
The misty mountains round me rise,
The world receding leaves my sight,
And daring fancy mounts the skies.
Forgetful of my sorrows here,
Entranced, I muse on joys to come,
– And far above thy lucid sphere
My trembling spirit seeks her home.[20]

There are conflicting dates as to how long Campbell wrote for the Lady's Monthly Museum, but it appears she could have been publishing as Ora for any length of time between 1813 to 1853.[7][2]

WorksEdit

  • Poems (Inverness, J. Young, 1811)
  • Poems (London, Baldwin, Cradock, and Joy, 1816)
  • Harley Radington: A Tale (London, A. K. Newman, 1821)

ReferencesEdit

  • Grundy, Isobel. "Campbell, Dorothea Primrose". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/45837.(Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  1. ^ a b Campbell, Dorothea Primrose (1821). Harley Radington: A Tale. London: A. K. Newman.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Bigold, Melanie (2013). "Orlando: Women's Writing in the British Isles from the Beginnings to the Present, edited by Susan Brown, Patricia Clements, and Isobel Grundy". ABO: Interactive Journal for Women in the Arts, 1640-1830. 3 (1). doi:10.5038/2157-7129.3.1.8. ISSN 2157-7129.
  3. ^ a b c R. S. B. (30 July 1938). "The Ancestry of Daniel Defoe: Registration of Baptisms". Notes and Queries. 175 (5): 86. doi:10.1093/nq/175.5.86b. ISSN 1471-6941.
  4. ^ Grundy, Isobel (23 September 2004). Campbell, Dorothea Primrose (1792–1863), poet and novelist. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/45837.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Archives of the Royal Literary Fund, 1790-1918." Location: London, World Microfilms. N.d.
  6. ^ Wainwright, Clive (2003). Scott, Sir Walter. Oxford Art Online. Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/gao/9781884446054.article.t077153.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g Walker, Constance (16 June 2014). "Dorothea Primrose Campbell: A Newly Discovered Pseudonym, Poems and Tales". Women's Writing. 21 (4): 592–608. doi:10.1080/09699082.2014.912258. ISSN 0969-9082.
  8. ^ Class: HO107; Piece: 669; Book: 5; Civil Parish: Stoke Newington; County: Middlesex; Enumeration District: 4; Folio: 29; Page: 2; Line: 1; GSU roll: 438784. Ancestry.com. 1841 England Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc, 2010. Census Returns of England and Wales, 1841. Kew, Surrey, England: The National Archives of the UK (TNA): Public Record Office (PRO), 1841. Data imaged from the National Archives, London, England.
  9. ^ Saglia, Diego (2014). "Review:Romantic Appropriations of History: The Legends of Joanna Baillie and Margaret Holford HodsonJudith Bailey Slagle , Romantic Appropriations of History: The Legends of Joanna Baillie and Margaret Holford Hodson . Madison and Teaneck, N.J. : Fairleigh Dickinson University Press , 2012 . Pp. xviii + 121. $60". Nineteenth-Century Literature. 69 (1): 129–132. doi:10.1525/ncl.2014.69.1.129. ISSN 0891-9356.
  10. ^ Class: HO107; Piece: 2414; Folio: 552; Page: 3; GSU roll: 87092. Ancestry.com. 1851 England Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2005. Census Returns of England and Wales, 1851. Kew, Surrey, England: The National Archives of the UK (TNA): Public Record Office (PRO), 1851. Data imaged from the National Archives, London, England.
  11. ^ "Cutting added to Dorothea Campbell's 'Poems', 1816." Location: British Library.
  12. ^ Class: RG 9; Piece: 121; Folio: 136; Page: 1; GSU roll: 542577. Ancestry.com. 1861 England Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2005. Census Returns of England and Wales, 1861. Kew, Surrey, England: The National Archives of the UK (TNA): Public Record Office (PRO), 1861. Data imaged from The National Archives, London, England.
  13. ^ London Metropolitan Archives; London, England; Reference Number: DL/T/063/020. Ancestry.com. London, England, Church of England Deaths and Burials, 1813-2003 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010. Board of Guardian Records, 1834-1906 and Church of England Parish Registers, 1813-2003. London Metropolitan Archives, London.
  14. ^ Hale, Sarah Josepha Buell (1853). "Campbell, Dorothea Primrosel." Woman's Record; or sketches of all distinguished women, from "the beginning" till A.D. 1850, arranged in four eras. With selections from female writers of every age. New York: Harper & Brothers. p. 610.
  15. ^ Erickson, Lee (2004). "The English Novel, 1770–1829: A Bibliographical Survey of Prose Fiction Published in the British Isles: Volume 1: 1770–1799. General editors, Peter  Garside, James  Raven, and Rainer  Schöwerling. Edited by, James  Raven and Antonia  Forster, with the assistance of, Stephen  Bending. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2000, pp. xix + 864.The English Novel, 1770–1829: A Bibliographical Survey of Prose Fiction Published in the British Isles: Volume 2: 1800–1829. General editors, Peter  Garside, James  Raven, and Rainer  Schöwerling. Edited by, Peter  Garside and Rainer  Schöwerling, with the assistance of, Christopher  Skelton‐Foord and Karin  Wünsche. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2000. Pp. xxiv+753". Modern Philology. 101 (4): 622–626. doi:10.1086/423645. ISSN 0026-8232.
  16. ^ Scott Burn, W. Letter to Arthur Nicolson. 25 December 1823. MS D.24/51/46/2. Shetland Archive.
  17. ^ a b c Fielding, Penny (2012). "Genre, Geography and the Question of the National Tale: D. P. Campbell's Harley Radington" (PDF). European Romantic Review. 23 (5): 593–611. doi:10.1080/10509585.2012.709797. ISSN 1050-9585.
  18. ^ Campbell, D. P. Letter to Walter Scott. 21 Sept 1821. MS 32278, ff.102-4. National Library of Scotland.
  19. ^ Walker, Constance (16 June 2014). "Dorothea Primrose Campbell: A Newly Discovered Pseudonym, Poems and Tales". Women's Writing. 21 (4): 592–608. doi:10.1080/09699082.2014.912258. ISSN 0969-9082.
  20. ^ Ora (1815). "The Apollonian." The Lady's Monthly Museum, Or Polite Repository of Amusement and Instruction: Being an Assemblage of Whatever Can Tend to Please the Fancy, Interest the Mind, Or Exalt the Character of the British Fair. Verner & Hood. p. 233.

External links and resourcesEdit