Marie Corelli was born Mary Mackay, the daughter of Charles Mackay, a Scottish poet and song-writer. She became a talented pianist in her early years and adopted the pseudonym of Marie Corelli. Later she turned to writing romantic fiction. She moved to Stratford in 1901 and bought Mason's Croft where she lived for many years. She became a local legend in the town with her colourful life-style. My grandparents often told me about her and her gondola in which she could regularly be seen on the river. The postcards of her on this website have come down to me from my grandparents - like the old theatre fire postcards, many Stratford people seem to have collected them. One more point - old Stratford people will know that her name was always pronounced "Marry", not "Maree" !

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Marie Corelli Fined for Hoarding Sugar.

The New York Times for 3 January 1918 reported a trial at Stratford-upon-Avon Police Court the previous day at which Marie Corelli was fined for unlawfully hoarding sugar, then an offence because of food shortages during World War 1. Counsel for the Ministry of Food said that on the basis of half a pound of sugar per head per week, her household was entitled to have purchased 32 lbs of sugar during the months in question, whereas it actually obtained 179 lbs, plus 50 lbs of preserving sugar. Miss Corelli's defence was that the sugar was used for jam making and that the current regulations did not apply to this. Her counsel contended that she acted patriotically in preserving fruit for future use. When the police called at her house, she is reported to have said "You are upsetting the country altogether with your food orders. Lloyd George will be resigning tomorrow and there will be a revolution in less than a week." She was fined £50 with £21 costs.

In April 2010, we were contacted by Monica Cure from the USA about three of our postcards of Marie Corelli. Monica was writing a doctoral dissertation on turn-of-the-century literature, and came across a report in the New York Times for 13 May 1906 about another court case involving Marie Corelli in which the novelist applied for an injunction to restrain A and E Wall of Stratford-upon-Avon from publishing picture postcards purporting to depict scenes in her private life. Miss Corelli's counsel stated that the defendants produced sets of postcards called "The Distinguished Authors Series". Objection to the cards was at once taken by Miss Corelli and the judge was asked to compare them with a recent photo of Miss Corelli from which he would see what a gross libel had been perpetrated on her features. One card was styled "Shakespeare and his Contemporaries", from which it was inferred that the defendants were suggesting that Shakespeare and Miss Corelli were contemporaries. Considerable annoyance had been occasioned to Miss Corelli by the publication of the cards, and the offence was aggravated by the fact that after the stationers and W H Smith and Son at Stratford-upon-Avon had stopped selling the cards, the defendants employed a large body of sandwich men to parade the place, including the front of Miss Corelli's house, with notices that the cards could be obtained at the defendants' place of business or private house. This had made the private life of Miss Corelli intolerable. The judge granted the injunction. Counsel read the affidavit of Miss Corelli in which she stated that she went to Stratford-upon-Avon for the purpose of obtaining privacy, and had never consented to the publication of the cards, which were calculated to expose her to unjust contempt in relation to her private life and prejudice her in her profession as an authoress. The affidavit of Miss Edith Wall, in reply, declared that, so far from seeking privacy at Stratford-upon-Avon, Miss Corelli had courted publicity in every way. If the portraits of Miss Corelli had been flattering, nothing would have been heard of the action. Very few ladies would admit that a photo did them justice, and it was assumed that Miss Corelli was no exception to the rule. If that was a libel, every exhibition at the Royal Academy would result in a collection of libels. The case was adjourned.