Spence, Elizabeth Isabella (DNB00)

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SPENCE, ELIZABETH ISABELLA (1768–1832), authoress, was born on 12 Jan. 1768 at Dunkeld. She was the only child of Dr. James Spence, a physician at Dunkeld, by his wife Elizabeth, youngest daughter of George Fordyce, provost of Aberdeen (d. 1733), and sister of James Fordyce [q. v.] Losing her parents early, Miss Spence went to live in London with an uncle and aunt, and was by their death left destitute of relatives. She had already commenced writing as a pastime, and now carried it on for a livelihood. Her works consist of novels and accounts of travel. Her first book, published in 1799, was ‘Helen Sinclair,’ a novel, in 2 vols. Her books of travel include ‘Summer Excursions through part of England and Wales,’ published in 2 vols. in 1809, and ‘Sketches of the Present Manners, Custom, and Scenery of Scotland,’ of which the second edition, in two volumes, bears date 1811. The latter work was ridiculed in ‘Blackwood’ (vol. iii.) in an article entitled ‘Miss Spence and the Bagman.’

Among her friends were Lady Anne Barnard, Miss Elizabeth Ogilvy Benger [q. v.], the Porters, Miss Landon, and Sir Humphry Davy. She died at Chelsea on 27 July 1832. There is an engraved portrait of Miss Spence in ‘La Belle Assemblée’ (No. 185).

Other works by Miss Spence are: 1. ‘The Nobility of the Heart,’ 3 vols. 1804. 2. ‘The Wedding Day,’ 3 vols. 1807. 3. ‘Commemorative Feelings,’ 1812. 4. ‘The Curate and his Daughter: a Cornish Tale,’ 1813. 5. ‘The Spanish Guitar,’ 1815. 6. ‘A Traveller's Tale of last Century,’ 3 vols. 1819. 7. ‘Old Stories,’ 2 vols. 1822. 8. ‘How to be rid of a Wife,’ 2 vols. 1823. 9. ‘Dame Rebecca Berry,’ 3 vols. 10. ‘Tales of Welsh Society and Scenery,’ 2 vols.

[Allibone's Dict. of Engl. Lit.; Gent. Mag. 1832, ii. 650; A. D. Fordyce's Family Record of the name of Dingwall Fordyce, 1885, p. 227; Annual Biogr. and Obit., pp. 367–71.]

E. L.