Gerard, Emily (DNB12)

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search

GERARD, [JANE] EMILY, Madame de Laszowska (1849–1905), novelist, born on 7 May 1849 at Chesters, Jedburgh, near Airdrie, Roxburghshire, was eldest sister of General Sir Montagu Gilbert Gerard [q. v. Suppl. II for parentage]. Her great-grandfather was Gilbert Gerard [q. v.], formerly a Scottish Episcopalian. Her mother became a Roman catholic in 1848, and Emily belonged to that faith. Until the age of fifteen she was educated at home; for eighteen months of a long residence with her family in Venice (1863-6) she took lessons at the house of the Comte de Chambord with his niece. Princess Marguerite, afterwards wife of Don Carlos, and with her formed a life-long intimacy; the princess died in 1893. After three years at the convent of the Sacré Coeur at Riedenburg near Bregenz in Tyrol, Emily married on 14 Oct. 1869 Chevalier Miecislas de Laszowski, member of an old Polish noble family, and an officer in the Austrian army, whose acquaintance she made in Venice. She lived first at Bræzum, Galicia, and after the death of her mother in 1870 her sisters joined her there. From 1880 onwards she devoted much time to recording her foreign experience in the form of fiction. In 1883 her husband was appointed to the command of the cavalry brigade in Transylvania, and she spent two years in the province, at Hermannstadt and Kronstadt. She embodied her observations in 'The Land beyond the Forest: Facts, Figures and Fancies from Transylvania' (1888), an excellent description of the country and its inhabitants. In 1885 her husband retired from active service with the rank of lieutant-general, and they then made their permanent home in Vienna, where she died on 11 Jan. 1905. Her husband predeceased her by five weeks (December 1904). There were two sons of the marriage.

In 1880 Emily Gerard collaborated in a novel, 'Reata' (new edit. 1881), with her sister Dorothea, who in 1886 married Julius Longard de Longgardo, also an officer in the Austrian army. A like partnership produced 'Beggar my Neighbour' (1882), 'The Waters of Hercules ' (1885), and 'A Sensitive Plant' (1891). She contributed without aid several short tales to Blackwood's and Longman's 'Magazines,' reprinted in the volumes 'Bis' (1890), and 'An Electric Shock and other Stories' (1897), and published six novels, of which the best is 'The Voice of a Flower' (1893). She wrote gracefully, and made the foreign sotting effective, but lacked power of characterisation. She was a competent critic; for nearly two years she furnished monthly reviews of German literature to 'The Times,' and occasional articles on new German books to 'Blackwood's Magazine.'

Other works by Emily Gerard are: 1. 'A Secret Mission,' 1891. 2. 'A Foreigner,' 1896 (inspired by her own marriage). 3. 'The Tragedy of a Nose,' 1898. 4. 'The Extermination of Love, a Study in Erotics,' 1901. 5. 'The Heron's Tower,' 1904. 6. 'Honour's Glassy Bubble,' 1906; and a preface to S. Kneipp's 'My Water Cure,' 1893.

[Burke's Landed Gentry, 1906; The Times, 12-13 Jan. 1905; Athenaeum, 21 Jan. 1905; Who's Who, 1904; Helen C. Black, Pen, Pencil, Baton and Mask: Biographical Sketches, 1896; William Blackwood and his Sons, vol. iii. (by Mrs. Gerald Potter), 1898, pp. 356-8.]

E. L.