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Novelist and actress, b. 9 July, 1838, at Brighton, England; d. 27 October 1899, in London, England. She was the sixth daughter and tenth child of Captain Frederick Marryat, R.N., the celebrated novelist, and his wife, Catherine, second daughter of Sir Stephen Shairp of Houston, Linlithgow, Scotland, and for many years consul-general in Russia. Florence Marryat's brother Frank, author of "Borneo and the Indian Archipelago" and "Mountains and Molehills, or Recollections of a Burnt Journal", died in 1855. In 1854, when she was not quite sixteen, she married T. Ross Church, afterwards colonel of the Madras Staff Corps, with whom she travelled over the greater part of India, and to whom she bore eight children. To distract her mind while nursing some of her children through scarlet fever, she turned to novel writing, her three first works, "Love's Conflict", "Too Good for Him", and "Woman against Woman", appearing at London in 1865. Thereafter she was an indefatigable and rapid literary worker, and during the thirty-four years that intervened between that date and her death, she produced some ninety novels, many of which were republished in America and Germany, and translated into French, German, Russian, Flemish, and Swedish. She was also a frequent contributor to newspapers and magazines, and edited "London Society", a monthly publication, from 1872 to 1876. In 1872 she published in two volumes, "The Life and Letters of Captain Marryat". She had many other forms of activity, being a playwright, and appearing at different times as an operatic singer, as an actress in high-class comedy, and as a lecturer, dramatic reader and public entertainer. She also conducted a school of journalism. In 1881 she acted in "Her World", a drama of her own composition, produced in London. She married as her second husband Colonel Francis Lean of the Royal Marine Light Infantry. For many years she was much attracted to the subject of Spiritualism, and dealt with it in certain of her works, such as "There Is No Death" (1891); "The Spirit World" (1894); and "A Soul on Fire". "Tom Tiddler's Ground" (1886), a book of travel, is a somewhat frivolous account of the United States of America. Her last book, "The Folly of Alison", appeared just before her death. Although she had been a convert to Catholicity for a considerable period, the letters "R.I.P." appended to her obituary notices were the first intimation that a large section of the public received of the fact.
ALLIBONE, Dict., Suppl., II; The London Times (28 Oct., 1899); The Athen um (xxx) (4 Nov., 1899); The Tablet (4 Nov., 1899); Men and Women of the Time (1899); LEE in Dict. Nat. Bio., Suppl., s.v.
P. J. Lennox.