Dictionary of National Biography, 1901 supplement/Craven, Pauline Marie Armande Aglaé

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CRAVEN, Mrs. PAULINE MARIE ARMANDE AGLAÉ (1808–1891), authoress, was born on 12 April 1808 at Craven 36 Manchester Street, London, and was baptised in the French chapel, King Street, Portman Square. Her parents were French émigrés; she was the eldest daughter. Her father, Comte Auguste Marie de La Ferronay's, was of Breton stock, and is mentioned for his uprightness and tolerance by Chateaubriand in the 'Memoires d'Outre-Tombe.' Her mother, also of good family, was Marie Charlotte Albertine de Sourches de Monsoreau. The Comte de la Ferronays returned to France with the Due de Berri in 1814. When a quarrel with the duke drove him from court he was appointed ambassador to St. Petersburg, a post he filled for eight years. In 1827 he returned to Paris as minister for foreign affairs under Charles X. Thus Pauline, then nineteen years old, was launched on all the brilliant society of the Restoration. In 1828 her father resigned the French foreign office, and was appointed French ambassador to Rome. The journey thither, via Pisa and Florence, was made in the company of Rio, the art critic, who persuaded Pauline to put her impressions of a visit to the catacombs on paper. The revolution of 1830 obliged her father to resign the French public service, and the family went to live at Naples. On 10 Feb. 1832 she seems to have formed one of a party who, in company with Sir Walter Scott, visited Pompeii (cf. Scott, Journal, ed. 1891, p. 876). At Naples Pauline met Augustus Craven, son of Keppel Richard Craven, [q.v.] and grandson of Elizabeth, Margravine of Anspach [q. v.], an attaché to the British legation at Naples. They became engaged, and Craven had to overcome his father's opposition to his marriage with a Roman catholic; but the elder Craven finally agreed to settle 17,000l. on the couple. The marriage took place on 24 Aug. 1834 in the chapel of the Acton Palace at Naples. Mr. and Mrs. Craven went immediately to Rome, where the former was received into the Roman catholic church.

A series of family sorrows now overtook Mrs. Craven. Her brother Albert died in 1836, her father and two sisters in 1842, and in 1848 she lost her mother. Craven was for a while paid attaché at Lisbon, and in 1843 was appointed secretary of legation at Stuttgart. During his period of office they lived partly at Carlsruhe, partly at Baden. In 1847 they spent some time in Paris, Craven acting for a while as secretary to Lord Normanby, British ambassador in Paris. After 1849 Mrs. Craven often visited England, and was a frequent guest of Lord Palmerston, Lord Ellesmere, and Lord Granville. All her friends in this country, among whom were Aubrey de Vere, Fanny Kemble, Sir Mountstuart Grant Duff, and Lord Houghton, testified to the charm of her personality and to her power of inspiring lasting affection. Craven had scarcely made a success of his profession ; but after the death of his father in 1851, on the strength of his inheritance, a house was taken in Berkeley Square. The next year he unsuccessfully stood for the parliamentary representation of Dublin. In 1853 they settled at Naples, and devoted much time and money to attempts at improving the social conditions of the town. During this period Mrs. Craven wrote the 'Récit d'une Soeur.' It relates the history of her family while they lived at Rome and Naples, from 1830 to 1836, and is a book of great charm, breathing a fervent devotion to the Roman catholic faith.

After some difficulty in obtaining the consent of her family and friends, the 'Récit d'une Soeur' was published on 6 Jan 1866. It went through nine editions in a few months. It was reviewed by Emile Montégut in the 'Revue des deux Mondes' (April 1866), and was crowned by the academy, gaming a prize of 80l., under the auspices of Villemain. It was translated into English, with the title 'A Sister's Story,' in 1868. There were other editions in 1869 and 1874. Mr. Aubrey de Vere wrote two sonnets on it (cf. In Antar and Zara, and other Poems, 1877, p. 327).

Mrs. Craven's first novel, 'Anne Séverin,' began to appear in the ' Correspondant ' in March 1867. It was published in book form in 1868 and passed through twenty-two editions. It imitates the work of Lady Georgiana Charlotte Fullerton [q. v.], to whom it is dedicated, and by whom it was translated into English in 1869.

In 1867 Mr. and Mrs. Craven gave up their house at Naples and spent some time in Paris and Rome. Craven's affairs went from bad to worse, and it became necessary for Mrs. Craven to earn money by her pen. 'Fleurange' was ready in 1870, but it was difficult to find a French publisher. Mrs. Craven thought of trying her skill in English, but had not command enough over the language to write a book in it. In 1871 'Fleurange' was accepted by the 'Correspondant.' It was in a fifth edition by 1872, was crowned by the French academy, and was translated into English by E. Bowles. But, notwithstanding this success, the pecuniary circumstances of the Cravens were very strained. An annuity from the Bavarian government in lieu of a claim of Craven's grandmother does not seem to have helped much, and so in 1880 Mrs. Craven made an arrangement with her publisher Didier to pay her 240l. a year for six years on works already published, and to pay as before for any new ones.

In 1883 Mrs. Craven visited Queen Victoria at Osborne, and the queen afterwards requested Mrs. Craven to send her all her works, after writing her name in each. Craven died at Monabri, near Lausanne, in 1884, and was buried at Boury, the family seat of the Ferronays, near Gisors in Normandy. Mrs. Craven began to write her memoirs under the title of 'Le Chemin Parcouru,' but made little way with them. In 1890 she became paralysed and lost the power of speech ; her intellect, however, remained unclouded. After lingering for ten months she died at Paris on 1 April 1891 and was buried at Boury with her husband.

Mrs. Craven's books are as much read in England and America as in France, and, although she does not take high rank as a novelist, the 'Recit d'une Soeur' is almost unique in its line, as a record of domestic events in a family of singular charms and devout religious earnestness. Her style has all the limpid clearness and charm of the best French writers.

A portrait of Mrs. Craven forms the frontispiece of Mrs. Bishop's 'Memoir' (cf. Mrs. Bishop, Memoir, ii. 356).

The following are the works by Mrs. Craven not already mentioned : 1. 'Adelaide Capece Minutolo,' a biography, 3rd edit. 1869; translated into English under the title 'A Noble Lady,' by E. Bowles, 1869, and by M. S. Watson, 1890. 2. 'Pelerinage de Paray-le-Monial,' 1873. 3. 'Le Mot d'Enigme,' 5th edit. 1874 ; translated into English by E.Bowles and entitled 'The Story of a Soul,' 1875. 4. 'Deux Incidents de la Question Catholique en Angleterre,' 1875. 5. 'La Marquise de Mun,' 1877. 6. 'La Soeur Natalie Narischkin,' 3rd edit. 1877 ; translated into English by Lady Georgiana Fullerton. 7. 'Reminiscences. Souvenirs d' Angleterre et d'ltalie,' 1879. 8. 'La Jeunesse de Fanny Kemble,' translated from the English, 1880. 9. 'Une année de Meditations,' 1881 ; English translation same year. 10. ' Eliane,' 1882 ; translated into English by Lady Georgiana Fullerton, same year. 11. 'La Valbriant,' 6th edit. 1886; translated into English same year by Lady Herbert of Lea under the title of 'Lucia.' 12. 'Lady Georgiana Fullerton : sa vie et ses oeuvres, 1888 ; English translation by H. J. Coleridge, same year. 13. 'Le Pere Damien,' 1890.

[Memoir by Mrs. Bishop, 2 vols. 1894 ; Paolina Craven e la sua Famiglia, by T. Filangieri Kavaschieri Fieschi, 1892.]

E. L.