Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Veley, Margaret

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VELEY, MARGARET (1843–1887), novelist and poet, was the second daughter of Augustus Charles Veley, by his wife Sophia, daughter of Thomas Ludbey, rector of Cranham. She was born on 12 May 1843 at Braintree, Essex, where her father practised as a solicitor, being mainly occupied with the ecclesiastical business of the district. Margaret was educated at home with the exception of one term spent at Queen's College, Tufnell Park. She became proficient in French literature. Although she began early to write both prose and verse, she published nothing until 1870. Her first poem, ‘Michaelmas Daisies,’ appeared in the ‘Spectator’ in the April of that year, and in September she published a short story, ‘Milly's First Love,’ in ‘Blackwood's Magazine.’ In 1872 she began her best and most successful novel, ‘For Percival.’ It appeared as a serial in the ‘Cornhill Magazine’ (September–December 1878), then under the editorship of Mr. Leslie Stephen. It was immediately published in book form, and was well received. Written in a clear and pointed style, it showed a strong sense of humour and keen perception of character. Melancholy consequent on the deaths of two of Miss Veley's married sisters in 1877 and 1885 and of her father in 1879, strongly affected her later writings. In 1880 she removed to London. The stories ‘Mrs. Austin’ and ‘Damocles’ appeared serially in the ‘Cornhill’ in 1880 and 1882 respectively. ‘Mitchelhurst Place’ appeared serially in ‘Macmillan's Magazine’ in 1884, and there was a two-volume edition in that year, and an edition in one volume in 1885. ‘A Garden of Memories’ ran through the ‘English Illustrated Magazine’ from July to September 1886, and was published in two volumes in 1887.

Miss Veley died on 7 Dec. 1887, after a short illness. She was buried on 10 Dec. in Braintree cemetery.

Miss Veley, who took interest in many things besides literature, was very shy and completely free from vanity. A volume of her poems, ‘A Marriage of Shadows,’ published after her death in 1888, was prefaced by a biographical introduction by (Sir) Leslie Stephen.

[Allibone's Dict. Suppl. ii. 1466; Leslie Stephen's introduction to ‘A Marriage of Shadows,’ 1888.]

E. L.