Eversley’s forgotten feminist – Lucas Malet, aka Mary Kingsley

Lucas Malet was the pseudonym of Mary St Leger Kingsley, Charles Kingsley’s second daughter.  A successful and well-regarded author, her literary sales funded the building of “Keys” for her sister Rose Kingsley and the “Orchard”, her home in Eversley.

We are indebted to Dr Peter Covey-Crump who  has communicated  this interesting note regarding Mary Kingsley:

“May I suggest that you consider including something about CK’s younger daughter Mary St Leger Harrison, who, under the pseudonym of Lucas Malet, wrote best-selling novels. The profits of these enabled her to purchase The Keys and The Orchard in Eversley where she and her elder sister Rose lived. Her contemporary critics regarded her as the successor to George Eliot and described her as the equal of Thomas Hardy and Henry James. Indeed Thomas Hardy based Jude the Obscure on the main character in her book The Wages of Sin. Possibly her best book The History of Sir Richard Calmady is set in Eversley and the immediate surroundings, and Sir Richard’s mansion is based on Bramshill Park”.

Carissma – a modern grotesque A very remarkable book, deserving of critical analysis impossible within our limit ; brilliant, but not superficial ; well considered, but not elaborated ; constructed with the proverbial art that conceals, but yet allows itself to be enjoyed by readers to whom fine literary method is a keen pleasure.’— The World.


Lucas Malet was the pseudonym of Mary St Leger Kingsley (4 June 1852 — 1931), a Victorian novelist. Of her novels, The Wages of Sin (1891) and The History of Sir Richard Calmady (1901) were especially popular.[1] Malet scholar Talia Schaffer notes that she was “widely regarded as one of the premier writers of fiction in the English-speaking world”[2] at the height of her career, but her reputation declined by the end of her life and today she is rarely read or studied. At the height of her popularity she was “compared favourably to Thomas Hardy, and Henry James, with sales rivalling Rudyard Kipling.”Malet’s fin de siecle novels offer “detailed, sensitive investigations of the psychology of masochism, perverse desires, unconventional gender roles, and the body.”[4]

She is regarded by some present-day historians as being one of the founders of  feminist aesthetics and ideologies. (Peter Ormrod)

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