Dictionary of National Biography, 1912 supplement/Hawker, Mary Elizabeth

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HAWKER, MARY ELIZABETH, writing under the pseudonym of Lanoe Falconer (1848–1908), novelist, born on 29 Jan. 1848 at Inverary, Aberdeenshire, was elder daughter of Major Peter William Lanoe Hawker (1812-1857), of the 74th highlanders, of Longparish House near Whitchurch, Hampshire, by his wife Elizabeth Fraser. Her grandfather was Lieutenant-colonel Peter Hawker [q. v.], author of 'Instructions to Young Sportsmen' (1841). Miss Hawker's education was desultory, but she read assiduously for herself. Her father died in 1857, and after her mother's second marriage in the autumn of 1862 to Herbert Fennell, the family lived for some years in Franco and Germany, and Miss Hawker became efficient in French and German. She was also an admirable pianist.

Miss Hawker early began to write, and a few stories and essays appeared in magazines and newspapers. Success did not come until 1890, when there appeared, as the initial volume of a series of novels issued by Mr. Fisher Unwin in the 'Pseudonym Library,' a story by Miss Hawker entitled 'Mademoiselle Ixe, by Lanoe Falconer.' The manuscript had been previously rejected by many publishers. The heroine was a governess in an English country house who was connected with Russian nihilists. The mystery was cleverly handled, and the artistic treatment showed a delicacy and refinement which were uncommon in English writers of short stories. The 'Saturday Review' declared it to be 'one of the finest short stories in England.' Success was great and immediate. Gladstone wrote and spoke the praises of the book, of which the circulation was forbidden in Russia; it was admired by Taine. Over 40,000 copies of the English editions were sold, and there were also continental and American editions. It was translated into French, German, Dutch, and Italian. Subsequently she published in 1891 'Cecilia de Noël,' an original and cleverly told ghost story, and 'The Hotel d'Angleterre.' But failure of health interrupted her work, and her mother's death on 23 May 1901 proved a blow from which she never recovered.

She died from rapid consumption on 16 June 1908, at Broxwood Court, Herefordshire, and was buried at Lyonshall in that county.

Other works by Miss Hawker are 'Old Hampshire Vignettes' (1907) and two short tales, 'Shoulder to Shoulder' (1891) and 'The Wrong Prescription ' (1893).

[The Times, 20 June 1908; Who's Who, 1907; Burke's Landed Gentry; Cornhill Magazine, Feb. 1912, article by Miss March Phillipps ; private information.]

E. L.