Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Pilkington, Mary

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PILKINGTON, MARY (1766–1839), writer, the daughter of a surgeon named Hopkins, was born in Cambridge in 1766. At the age of fifteen she was left destitute by the death of her father. Her grandfather, a clergyman, afforded her shelter, and she married in 1786 her father's successor, a surgeon named Pilkington, who resided for a while in Ely, and then accepted a position as naval surgeon. Thrown on her own resources, she became governess to a family reservedly mentioned under the initial ‘W.’ Here she remained eight years. Her first manuscript, ‘Obedience rewarded and Prejudice conquered, or the History of Mortimer Lascelles,’ was offered to Newbery in St. Paul's Churchyard, and published by him in 1797. She speedily became a voluminous author of novels and works, chiefly of an instructive and edifying character. She had a disabling illness about 1810, from which she recovered. Her later life seems to have been spent in obscurity, and she died in 1839. Mrs. Pilkington's chief publications, some of which were translated into French, were: 1. ‘Edward Barnard, or Merit exalted,’ London, 1797, 1801, 12mo. 2. ‘A Collection of Charades and Riddles,’ 1798, 12mo. 3. ‘Scripture Histories,’ &c., London, 1798, 12mo. 4. ‘A Mirror for the Female Sex,’ 1798, 12mo. 5. ‘Historical Beauties for Young Ladies,’ 1798, 12mo. 6. ‘Tales of the Hermitage,’ 1798, 12mo. 7. ‘Tales of the Cottage,’ 1799, 12mo. 8. ‘Henry, or the Foundling,’ 1799, 12mo. 9. ‘Marmontel's Tales collected and abridged,’ 1799, 12mo. 10. ‘Biography for Boys,’ 1799, 12mo. 11. ‘Biography for Girls,’ 1799, 12mo. 12. ‘The Spoiled Child,’ 1799, 12mo. 13. ‘New Tales of the Castle,’ London, 1800, 12mo. 14. ‘The Asiatic Princess,’ 1800, 12mo. 15. ‘Tales of the Cottage,’ 1801, 12mo. 16. ‘Tales of the Hermitage,’ 1801, 12mo. 17. ‘Mentorial Tales for Young Ladies,’ 1802, 12mo. 18. ‘Marvellous Adventures, or the Vicissitudes of a Cat,’ 1802, 12mo. 19. ‘New Tales of the Castle, or the Noble Emigrant,’ London, 1803, 12mo. 20. ‘Goldsmith's History of Animated Nature,’ abridged, 1803, 12mo. 21. ‘Virtue,’ 12mo. 22. ‘Biographical Dictionary of Celebrated Females,’ 12mo. 23. ‘Parental Duplicity,’ 3 vols. 12mo. 24. ‘Crimes and Characters, or the Outcast,’ 1805, 3 vols. 12mo. 25. ‘Violet Vale, or Stories for the Entertainment of Youth,’ 1806, 12mo. 26. ‘The Disgraceful Effects of Falsehood,’ London, 12mo, 1807. 27. ‘Ellen, Heiress of the Castle,’ 1807, 3 vols. 12mo. 28. ‘The Calendar, or Monthly Recreations,’ London, 12mo, 1807. 29. ‘The Minor's Library,’ 1808, vol. i. 12mo. 30. ‘Sacred Elucidations, or Sunday Evening Remarks,’ 1809, 12mo. 31. ‘Sinclair, or the Mysterious Orphan,’ 1809, 4 vols. 12mo. 32. ‘The Ill-fated Mariner, or Richard the Runaway,’ 1809, 12mo. 33. ‘A Reward for Attentive Studies,’ Stroud and London, 12mo, 1810 (?). 34. ‘Characteristic Incidents drawn from Real Life,’ London, 1810, 12mo. 35. ‘Original Poems,’ 1811, 8vo. 36. ‘The Sorrows of Cæsar, or Adventures of a Foundling Dog,’ 1813, 12mo. 37. ‘Margate, or Sketches Descriptive of that Place of Resort,’ 1813, 12mo. 38. ‘Letters from a Mother to her Daughter,’ 12mo. 39. ‘Memoirs of the Rockingham Family,’ 12mo. 40. ‘Evening Recreations, or a Collection of Enigmas, Charades, Riddles, &c.,’ 1813, 12mo. 41. ‘Memoirs of Celebrated Female Characters who have distinguished themselves by their Talents and Virtues in every Age and Nation,’ 12mo. 42. ‘Pictures of Virtue and Vice, or Moral Tales for the Perusal of Young Gentlemen,’ 2 vols. 12mo. 43. ‘Sacred Elucidations,’ 12mo. 44. ‘The Shipwreck, or Misfortune the Inspirer of Virtuous Sentiments,’ London, 1819, 12mo. 45. ‘Celebrity, or the Unfortunate Choice,’ a novel, 3 vols., London, 1825. The ‘Lady's Monthly Museum’ adds ‘The Spoiled Child’ and ‘Letters from a Mother to a Daughter.’

[Lady's Monthly Museum, August 1812, portrait; Biographie des Hommes Vivants, 1819, v. 64 (with fairly complete bibliography); Nouvelle Biogr. Générale, xl. 235; works cited.]

J. K.