Toulmin, Camilla Dufour (DNB00)

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TOULMIN, CAMILLA DUFOUR, afterwards Mrs. Newton Crosland (1812–1895), miscellaneous writer, 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, while her mother was descended from the Berrys of Birmingham, and was related to the Misses Berry, the friends of Horace Walpole. She evinced exceptional precocity, being able to read at the age of three years. Her father, the victim of financial misfortune, died when Camilla was eight, leaving his widow and daughter unprovided for. The girl's limited education was supplemented by persevering private study. Devoting herself to literature from 1838, she contributed numerous poems, stories illustrating the sufferings of the poor, essays, biographical and historical sketches to periodicals like 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 the annuals. For more than fifty years she was a regular contributor to ‘Chambers's Journal,’ and at the time of her death she was the oldest of its band of writers. On 22 July 1848 Miss Toulmin married Newton Crosland, a London wine merchant with literary and scientific tastes, the author of several treatises and essays on miscellaneous subjects. In 1854 Mrs. Crosland commenced an investigation of the alleged phenomena of spiritualism, in which she became a thoroughgoing believer. She published her conclusions in ‘Light in the Valley: My Experiences of Spiritualism’ (1857), a credulous record, which was received with much scorn by the public. It is now scarce. 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 faithful and spirited translations of Victor Hugo's plays, ‘Hernani’ and ‘Ruy Blas,’ with some of his poems, which appeared in ‘Bohn's Library.’ In 1893 there was issued her last and most interesting work, ‘Landmarks of a Literary Life,’ a book full of charm, which was written when the author was past eighty years of age. The frontispiece is an engraving of the authoress from a miniature painted in 1848. After residing for nearly thirty-eight years at Blackheath, Mrs. Crosland removed in 1886 to 29 Ondine Road, East Dulwich, where she died on 16 Feb. 1895. A memorial window has been placed to her memory in St. Alban's Cathedral. Besides the works mentioned above she wrote: 1. ‘Lays and Legends illustrative of English Life’ (illustrated with numerous fine engravings), 1845. 2. ‘Poems,’ 1846. 3. ‘Partners for Life: a Christmas Story,’ 1847. 4. ‘Stratagems: a Story for Young People,’ 1849. 5. ‘Toil and Trial: a Story of London Life,’ 1849. 6. ‘Lydia: a Woman's Book,’ 1852. 7. ‘Stray Leaves from Shady Places,’ 1852. 8. ‘English Tales and Sketches’ (published in America in 1853). 9. ‘Memorable Women,’ 1854. 10. ‘Hildred, the Daughter,’ 1855. 11. ‘The Island of the Rainbow,’ 1865. 12. ‘Stories of the City of London, retold for Youthful Readers,’ 1880.

[Mrs. Crosland's Landmarks of a Literary Life, 1893; Crosland's Rambles round my Life, 1896; private information.]

E. T. N.