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MOWATT, Anna Cora, author, born in Bordeaux, France, in 1819; died near London, England, 28 July, 1870. She was the daughter of Samuel Gouverneur Ogden, a New York merchant, who, having speculated unsuccessfully, was at, the time of her birth residing temporarily in France. Cora was the tenth of a family of seventeen children. Her life until the age of eight years was passed at a chateau in the neighborhood of Bordeaux. On her father's return to New York in 1826, Cora attended school, and at the early age of fourteen attracted, by her precocity, the attention of James Mowatt, a young lawyer of that city, who persuaded her to consent to marry him that he might superintend her studies. Her parents gave their approval, with the proviso that the union should be postponed till Cora had reached the age of seventeen. The young people were secretly married, but soon afterward obtained parental forgiveness. The succeeding two years Mrs. Mowatt prosecuted her studies with great diligence and published, under the name of "Isabel," " Pelayo, or the Cavern of Covadonga" (New York, 1836). This poetical romance eliciting some adverse criticism, the author responded, still using her pen-name, with a satirical effusion entitled " Reviewers Reviewed" (1837). Her health failing, she spent a year and a half in Europe, during which time she wrote, for private performance, "Gulzara, the Persian Slave" (1840), which was first played after her return. Meantime Mr. Mowatt had suffered business reverses, and his wife, to aid him, proposed to give a series of dramatic readings. She began in Boston on 28 October, 1841, afterward visiting Providence and New York. The tacit opposition of her friends, and impaired health, compelled her to abandon the undertaking, although it had been entirely successful. Mr. Mowatt having again entered into business, this time as a publisher, she returned to literature and wrote a series of stories for the magazines, under the signature of "Helen Berkley." These attained immediate popularity, were translated into German, and republished in London. She also wrote " Fashion, a Comedy" (Boston), which met with approval when it was produced at the Park theatre, New York, in March, 1845. Mr. Mowatt having failed in his new venture, his wife was emboldened by the success of her play and the advice of certain of her friends, to try her fortune upon the stage, and made her debut at the Park theatre, on 13 June of the same year, as Pauline in the "Lady of Lyons." She played several nights with such commendation that engagements in other cities followed. In 1847 she wrote another play, "Armand ; or, The Peer and the Peasant" (New York), which was also well received. Going to England in company with Edward L. Davenport, she made her first appearance in London, 5 January, 1848, in the "Hunchbaek." Returning to this country in 1851, in which year her husband died, she continued to act until 3 June, 1854, when she took leave of the stage at a farewell performance at Niblo's Garden, New York. She married, four days afterward, William F. Ritchie, of Richmond, Virginia In 1860 she was recalled to New York by the fatal illness of her father. His death left her with health so impaired through constant nursing that she returned to Europe, living with relatives in Paris, Rome, and Florence. After the death of her second husband in 1868 she returned to London. Besides the works mentioned above and several compilations, Mrs. Mowatt wrote" The Fortune-Hunter, a Novel," using the pen-name of " Helen Berkley" (Philadelphia, , 18.42); " Evelyn ; or, A Heart Unmasked : A Tale of Domestic Life " (2 vols., Philadelphia, 1845; London. 1850); "The Autobiography of an Actress ; or, Eight Years on the Stage " (Boston, 1854);" Mimic Life; or, Before and Behind the Curtain " (1855) ; " Twin Roses " (1857); " Fairy Fingers, a Novel " (New York, 1865) ; " The Mute Singer, a Novel " (1866); and "The Clergyman's Wife, and Other Sketches" (1867).
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