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Brame, Charlotte M.


Mir wird von alle dem so dumm,
Als ging' mir ein Muhlrad im Kopf herum.
GOETHE: Faust, Part 1, lines 1605-6

Charlotte Mary Brame,(1) a writer of mushy love stories for the English lower classes, and immensely popular, was born at Hinckley, Leicester, England, November 1, 1836, the eldest daughter of Benjamin and Charlotte Agnes Law. She wrote poems for the local press while still a child, and at seventeen published her first short story. In January, 1863, she was married in Hinckley to Philip E. Brame, a London jeweler, and by him had nine children of whom only four lived to maturity. After her marriage, she and her husband removed to London, where they lived for a few years, then went to Manchester and, in the middle 1860's, to Brighton. In 1879 they returned to Hinckley on account of Charlotte's health, and there she died November 25, 1884.

Mrs. Brame was a voluminous writer, contributing mostly to various London periodicals. Few of her stories appeared in book form during her lifetime, but after her death they were published in many editions, both in England and in America. She was the real simon-pure "Bertha M. Clay" and "Dora Thorne." Street and Smith, of New York, published her stories under a special contract from advance sheets for ten years. In the New York Weekly, volume XXXII, December 11, 1876, there is an announcement of "Thrown on the World; or, The Discarded Wife," by Bertha M. Clay, a cloth-bound duodecimo which was issued December 2, 1876. This was the first time the pseudonym "Bertha M. Clay" was used. Previously the same publishers had issued her stories with "C.M.B." and "Mrs. Florice Norton" as pseudonyms. Apparently the name "Bertha M. Clay" was not definitely decided on even after it first appeared, for the name "Caroline M. Barton" occurs in the New York Weekly, February 26, 1877, as author of "Wife in Name Only," which had been begun as a serial "By the author of 'Dora Thorne,'" in the issue of December 25, 1876. In the same issue of the paper in which the first installment of "Wife in Name Only" appeared, there was also another of Mrs. Brame's tales, entitled "Between Two Loves," credited in the by-line to "The author of 'A Bitter Atonement,' " that is, to "Mrs. Florice Norton."(2) Thereafter the name "Bertha M. Clay" appeared regularly in the bylines. However, not all of the stories issued under this name were by Mrs. Brame, for after her death it became a stock name with Street and Smith, and under it appeared stories by Frederick V. Dey, John R. Coryell, and others. Some of Mrs. Brame's novels were published, in both England and America, as "By the author of 'Dora Thorne,'" or even as by "Dora Thorne." Sixty-eight novels are listed by Allibone, but it is not certain that all of them were written by her.

REFERENCES: Allibone, Supplement, Philadelphia, I, 1891, 198; The People's Home Journal, December, 1906; New York Weekly, XL, February 23, 1885; London Times, November 28, 1884, 1; Notes and Queries, VIII (7th Series), May 18, 1889, 395; VIII, July 13, 1889, 34; letters from Hermon Pitcher, who obtained much information from Mrs. Brame's daughter.

Fireside Library. Installments in Nos. 1 to 4, 45

Under the pen name "Dora Thorne" were published:

Waverley Library (quarto). Nos. 79, 89


1 The name was not Charlotte Monica Braeme, although it is usually so given. Miss Marie Louise Brame, Mrs. Charlotte Mary Brame's daughter, in numerous letters to Hermon Pitcher of Jacksonville, Florida, written between 1940 and 1948, spelled the family name Brame, as did also two nieces and a grandnephew, The same spelling was used on the title pages of Mrs. Brame's novels published in England, and in the obituary notices in the London Times and the Leicester Weekly. It is also so spelled on Mrs. Brame's tombstone. In the first reprint of one of her novels in America, the spelling was incorrectly given as Braeme, and this spelling has persisted in this country to the present time. For this we might give an excuse similar to that of an Englishman who, when corrected for his pronunciation of Michigan as "Mitchigan," said: "O, but we pronounce it Mitchigan in England!"
2 "A Woman's Temptation," by Mrs. Florice Norton. New York Weekly, XXX, July 12, 1875. Reprinted in the New Bertha M. Clay Library, No. 107, under the same title.

"Lady Evelyn's Folly," by "the author of 'A Woman's Temptation'." Ibid., XXX, November 8, 1875. Reprinted as "Evelyn's Folly" in the New Bertha M. Clay Library, No. 48.

"A Bitter Atonement," by the "author of "Lady Evelyn's Folly'."Ibid., XXXI, July 24, 1876.

"A Wife in Name Only," was begun in the New York Weekly, XXXII, December 25, 1876, as "By the author of 'Dora Thorne'," but in the issue for February 26, 1877, the author's name was given as "Caroline M. Barton, author of 'Dora Thorne', 'Redeemed by Love,' 'Love Works Wonders,' etc."

"Between Two Loves," by the "author of 'A Bitter Atonement'," began in New York Weekly, XXXII, December 25, 1876.

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