Novelist. Born Ada Ellen Bayly in Brighton, the youngest of four children of a London barrister. Her father died when she was eleven and her mother three years later. She was educated at home, with her uncle in Caterham, Surrey and at private schools in Brighton. She resided for the rest of her life separately with each of her two married sisters in Lincoln, London and Eastbourne. Her connection with the West Midlands is through her brother, the Rev. R. Burges Bayly who became vicar of Bosbury, Herefordshire. Edna Lyall's novel In spite of all (1901) is set partly on Bosbury Hill and when the author died in Eastbourne in 1903 her cremated remains were buried at the foot of the old cross in Bosbury churchyard.
Edna Lyall wrote 18 novels, the first, Won by waiting, being published in 1879 to little success. The name Edan Lyall is apparently derived from transposing letters from Ada Ellen Bayly. Her second novel, Donovan (1882) reveals the author's Unitarian upbringing in its treatment of religious tolerance and politics. Gladstone thought sufficiently highly of the work to write to its author to commend it as "a very delicate and refined work of art". It was followed by a sequel, We two (1884), which tells of a politician who refuses to swear on oath in order to take up his seat at the House of Commons. This was her first great success and is based on the real-life figure of Charles Bradlaugh who was elected as MP for Northampton in 1880 but did not affirm his allegiance until six years later. In the golden days (1885), an historical novel set in the seventeenth century, brought her considerable income and is recorded as being the book John Ruskin read on his deathbed. Derrick Vaughan, novelist (1889) uses material from Edna Lyall's own life as does The Burges letters (1902) which draws on her country childhood.
The autobiography of a slander (1887)
The autobiography of a truth (1896)
The Burges letters (1902)
Derrick Vaughan, novelist (1889)
The hinderers (1902)
Hope the hermit (1898)
In spite of all (1901)
In the golden days (1885)
Wayfaring men (1897)
We two (1884)
Won by waiting (1879)
The following novels by Edna Lyall are available from the Project Gutenberg website:-
Page created 11 March 2001 and last updated
28 October 2002
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