Annie Sophie Cory (1 October 1868 – 2 August 1952)[1] was a British author of popular, racy, exotic New Woman novels under the pseudonyms Victoria Cross(e),[2] Vivian Cory and V.C. Griffin.

LifeEdit

Annie Sophie Cory was the youngest of three daughters born to Colonel Arthur Cory and his wife Fanny Elizabeth Griffin. Her older sisters were the poet Adela Florence Nicolson and the editor Isabell Tate, who edited the Sind Gazette in India.[3]

She was born in Rawalpindi, Punjab, and was also baptized there on 27 October 1868.[1] Her father was employed in the British army at Lahore, where he was editor of the Lahore arm of The Civil and Military Gazette. Despite her parents' sojourn in India, they eventually returned to England, having maintained ties to their native country.[4] Cory attended London University at nineteen years old in 1888, but did not graduate.[5] In the 1891 England Census, Cory is listed as residing at 35 Tavistock Crescent, Paddington, London with her mother.[6]

After Arthur's death in 1903, Annie traveled extensively over the Continent with her maternal uncle, Heneage McKenzie Griffin, who was the owner of the Seven-Thirty silver mine in Boulder, Colorado and prominently involved in the mining industry as one of its richest entrepreneurs.[7][8] They lived together from 1916-1939, until his death in Italy.[9] Having been bequeathed her uncle's entire fortune, Cory settled in Monte Carlo to live with female friends. She also had a residence at 8 Via Cantonale Legano, Switzerland.[10] After her death in Milan, Italy, Cory was buried beside her uncle in 1952.[10][9] She left £87,304 10s 8d in her will.[10]

Writing CareerEdit

Annie Sophie's most established pseudonym was Victoria Cross.[11] According to The Bookman, she chose this pseudonym, "because her initials are V.C. and...she is the descendent of a V.C." (Victoria Cross medal recipient).[12]

She had her first piece, Theodora, a Fragment, published in The Yellow Book in 1895. In the same year she wrote The Woman Who Didn't, a response to Grant Allen's book The Woman Who Did.[5] Anna Lombard (1901) was her most successful novel, in which a woman convinces her husband to allow her to continue an extra-marital affair with an Indian. In Six Chapters of a Man's Life (1903), narrated by Cecil, an Englishman working in the East, details his love affair with Theodora, who accompanies him out of love to Port Said, Egypt, disguised for her safety as a male. Once her true sex is revealed to Egyptian males through an impulsive kiss from her lover, Theodora is assaulted and disfigured, returning to Cecil after a week spent as a captive in a brothel. Though their love endures, Theodora drowns herself to escape the shame of her experience.[13]

ReceptionEdit

While praising Anna Lombard's "great success" despite its racy themes, William Thomas Stead reviewed its companion volume Life of my Heart (1905) with concern over its clear portrayal of interracial relationships as a positive development. He complained, "Victoria Cross has done a daring thing in thus exalting the sacrifice of everything for the love of a bronze archangel in disguise, and if she had not idealised her lover in the latter part of the book, she would have gone perilously near suggesting that the best thing a girl can do is to elope with the best-looking fellow - white or coloured makes no matter - who crosses her path...But what, in the name of fortune, makes Victoria Cross so crazy about exalting the superiority of natives as husbands over the typical Anglo-Indian?"[14] Describing the passion of Cory's plot and language in the recently published novel Tomorrow? (1904), the Navy and Army Illustrated remarks, "The image that comes to mind...is that of a falling star; a white-hot thing rushing straight and swift through darkness to be lost in darkness. There is no stopping or turning aside; all is straight, swift motion to the end, and the swifter the star travels through the gloom, the more friction there is, so to speak. Between passion and unhappiness, the whiter and fiercer it glowers...Miss Victoria Cross writes in a white heat of passion."[15]

A feminist utopian fantasy, Martha Brown MP (1935), Cory's last novel, describes a future in which women rule England.[3]

ThemesEdit

Cory's stories often detail behaviors and desires unusual in the Victorian period such as female cross-dressing, unbridled and unashamed sexual desire, longing for and fear of interracial sexual relationships, and questioning of traditional heterosexual gender roles for men and women.[16]

LegacyEdit

Though her reputation as a writer of New Woman fiction is now more obscure, Cory is remembered chiefly as an author of decadent literature.[17]

Fate Knows No Tears (2008) by Mary Talbot Cross is a fictional retelling of the life of Cory's sister Adela as a young woman in India; Annie Sophie appears as a secondary character in the novel.[18]

NovelsEdit

The following list is taken from A Companion to On-line & Off-line Literature.[19]

  • The Woman Who Didn't (1895; original title: Consummation; retitled by John Lane for his Keynote series as a response to Grant Allen's The Woman Who Did) [20]
  • Paula (1896)
  • A Girl of the Klondike (1899)
  • Anna Lombard (1901)
  • Six Chapters of a Man's Life (1903)
  • To-morrow? (1904)
  • The Religion of Evelyn Hastings (1905)
  • Life of My Heart (1905)
  • Six Women (1906)
  • Life's Shop-Window (1907) Filmed (1914) as Life's Shop Window)
  • Five Nights (1908)
  • The Eternal Fires (1910)
  • The Love of Kusuma (1910)
  • Self and the Other (1911)
  • The Life Sentence (1912)
  • The Night of Temptation (1912)
  • The Greater Law (a.k.a. Hilda Against The World) (1914)
  • Daughters of Heaven (short stories, 1920)
  • Over Life's Edge (1921)
  • The Beating Heart (1924)
  • Electric Love (1929)
  • The Unconscious Sinner (a.k.a. The Innocent Sinner) (1931)
  • A Husband's Holiday (1932)
  • The Girl in the Studio (1934)
  • Martha Brown, MP (1935)
  • Jim (1937)

ReferencesEdit

  • Gail Cunningham: The New Woman and the Victorian Novel (Macmillan: London, 1978).
  • Stephanie Forward: s.v. "Victoria Cross(e)". The Cambridge Guide to Women's Writing in English, ed. Lorna Sage (CUP: Cambridge, 1999).

FootnotesEdit

  1. ^ a b "Ancestry Library Edition". ancestrylibrary.proquest.com. Retrieved 21 February 2019.
  2. ^ She dropped the 'e' from her name after Queen Victoria's death in 1901.
  3. ^ a b Sage, Lorna; Greer, Germaine; Showalter, Elaine (30 September 1999). The Cambridge Guide to Women's Writing in English. Cambridge University Press. p. 159. ISBN 9780521668132.
  4. ^ Snodgrass, Chris (2015). "VICTORIA CROSS" (PDF). Retrieved 20 February 2019.
  5. ^ a b "Cory, Annie Sophie [pseud. Victoria Cross] (1868–1952), novelist | Oxford Dictionary of National Biography". www.oxforddnb.com. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/9780198614128.001.0001/odnb-9780198614128-e-56880. Retrieved 21 February 2019.
  6. ^ The National Archives of the UK (TNA); Kew, Surrey, England; Class: RG12; Piece: 11; Folio: 17; Page: 2. Ancestry.com. 1891 England Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2005. Census Returns of England and Wales, 1891. Kew, Surrey, England: The National Archives of the UK (TNA): Public Record Office (PRO), 1891.
  7. ^ Ancestry.com. England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1995[database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010. Principal Probate Registry. Calendar of the Grants of Probate and Letters of Administration made in the Probate Registries of the High Court of Justice in England. London, England © Crown copyright.
  8. ^ Engineering and Mining Journal. McGraw Hill Publishing Company. 1891. p. 633.
  9. ^ a b Morrison, Kevin A. (8 October 2018). Companion to Victorian Popular Fiction. McFarland. p. 61. ISBN 9781476669038.
  10. ^ a b c Ancestry.com. England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1995[database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010. Principal Probate Registry. Calendar of the Grants of Probate and Letters of Administration made in the Probate Registries of the High Court of Justice in England. London, England © Crown copyright.
  11. ^ "The History of the Victoria Cross". Historic UK. Retrieved 21 February 2019.
  12. ^ Victoria Cross, 1868-1952: a bibliography. Victorian Fiction Research Unit, School of English, Media Studies and Art History, The University of Queensland. 2002. p. 28. ISBN 9781864995855.
  13. ^ Gagnier, Regenia (9 April 2010). Individualism, Decadence and Globalization: On the Relationship of Part to Whole, 1859–1920. Springer. pp. 71–74. ISBN 9780230277540.
  14. ^ Stead, William Thomas (1905). The Review of Reviews. Office of the Review of Reviews. p. 94.
  15. ^ "Two Kinds of Love." Navy and Army Illustrated. Vol. 18. 23 July 1904. p. 546.
  16. ^ Nelson, Carolyn Christensen (7 November 2000). A New Woman Reader: Fiction, Articles and Drama of the 1890s. Broadview Press. p. 70. ISBN 9781551112954.
  17. ^ Cohler, Deborah (2010). Citizen, Invert, Queer: Lesbianism and War in Early Twentieth-Century Britain. U of Minnesota Press. p. 22. ISBN 9781452915098.
  18. ^ Cross, Mary Talbot (15 November 2008). Fate Knows No Tears. Wakefield Press. p. 4. ISBN 9781862547858.
  19. ^ A Companion to On-line & Off-line Literature
  20. ^ Victoria Crosse http://rmc.library.cornell.edu/womenLit/Sin_Sensation/Woman_Who_Didnt_L.htm

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit