Dictionary of National Biography, 1912 supplement/Hoey, Frances Sarah

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1527094Dictionary of National Biography, 1912 supplement, Volume 2 — Hoey, Frances Sarah1912Elizabeth Lee

HOEY, Mrs. FRANCES SARAH, 'Mrs. Cashel Hoey' (1830–1908), novelist, born at Bushy Park, co. Dublin, on 14 Feb. 1830, was one of the eight children of Charles Bolton Johnston, secretary and registrar of the Mount Jerome cemetery, Dublin, by his wife Charlotte Jane Shaw. Frances was educated at home, chiefly by her own efforts. On her sixteenth birthday, 14 Feb. 1846, she married Adam Murray Stewart. There were two daughters of the marriage. In 1853 she began to contribute reviews and articles on art to the 'Freeman's Journal' and the 'Nation' and other Dublin papers and periodicals. Thenceforth until her death she was continuously occupied in journalism, novel-writing or translation.

Her husband Stewart died on 6 Nov. 1856, and his widow then came to London with an introduction to Thackeray. She soon wrote reviews for the 'Morning Post,' to whose editor William Carleton introduced her, and for the 'Spectator.' On 6 February 1858 she married John Cashel Hoey (1828–1893), C.M.G., a knight of Malta and a well-known Dublin journalist. He was a member of the Young Ireland party, and assisted Sir Charles Gavan Duffy [q. v. Suppl. II] when he revived the 'Nation' in 1849, and was editor during 1856–7 after Duffy's departure for Australia (cf. C. G. Duffy, My Life in Two Hemispheres, 1898). He was a devout Roman catholic, and after her marriage his wife adopted his faith. Later Hoey was called to the bar of the Middle Temple (18 Nov. 1861), and was secretary to the agent-general of Victoria in London (1872–3 and 1879–92) and of New Zealand (1874–9) (see Foster's Men at the Bar).

In 1865 Mrs. Hoey began with a story entitled 'Buried in the Deep' a long connection with 'Chambers's Journal,' then under the editorship of James Payn [q. v.]. Until 1894 she was a constant contributor, writing articles, short stories, and two serial novels, 'A Golden Sorrow' (1892) and 'The Blossoming of an Aloe' (1894).

Mrs. Hoey wrote in all eleven novels, dealing for the most part with fashionable society. Her first novel, 'A House of Cards' (3 vols. 1868; 2nd edit. 1871), two later novels, 'Falsely True' (1870) and 'The Question of Cain' (1882), and her last novel, 'A Stern Chase' (1886), each passed into a second edition, and some enjoyed a vogue in Canada and the United States. Mrs. Hoey was also largely responsible for 'Land at Last' (1866), 'Black Sheep' (1867), 'Forlorn Hope' (1867), 'Rock Ahead’ (1868), and 'A Righted Wrong' (1870), five novels which were published under the name of Edmund Yates [q. v.]; of the last work Mrs. Hoey was sole author, and the secret of her authorship was divulged. Mrs. Hoey, too, helped Yates in 1874 to plan the 'World,' for which she wrote much.

Mrs. Hoey was a frequent visitor to Paris, and was well known to English residents there. On Easter Day 1871 she was the only passenger from London to Paris, whence she returned next day with the news of the Commune. An article by her, entitled 'Red Paris,' appeared in the 'Spectator.' Mrs. Hoey was 'reader' for publishers at various periods, and was the first to send a 'Lady's Letter ' to an 'Australian paper, a piece of work which she performed fortnightly for more than twenty years. She also translated twenty-seven works from the French and Italian, seven in collaboration with John Lillie. They include memoirs, travels, and novels.

Mrs. Hoey, who was a humorous talker and generous to literary beginners, was granted a civil list pension of 50l. in 1892. She was left a widow next year, and died on 8 July 1908 at Beccles, Suffolk; she was buried in the churchyard of the Benedictine church at Little Malvern, Worcestershire.

[Who's Who, 1908; The Times, 15 July 1908; Allibone, Suppl. ii.; Tinsley, Random Recollections of an Old Publisher, 1900, i. 138-143; Brit. Mus. Cat.; private information.]

E. L.