Mary Elizabeth Braddon was born in London in 1837 into the unhappy family of a Cornish solicitor who left when she was five. Her brother Edward left for Tasmania five years later, eventually becoming its prime minister in 1894. Mary helped support herself and her mother by working as an actress and writing fiction. Lady Audley's Secret (1862) was her fourth published novel and first success. It was widely reviled by critics as 'sensation fiction' but made her rich. Seventy more novels followed, many in a similarly racy vein, and remarkable for their inventiveness and readability. She died in 1915.
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