Chronology of Amelia Alderson Opie

1769:   birth of Amelia Alderson (12 November), only child of James and Amelia(Briggs) Alderson, in Norwich, England

1784:   death of her mother (31 December); at fifteen Amelia enters society and assumes control of her father’s household

1786:   writes Adelaide, a 5-act play; wide social circle includes the radical Mrs. John Taylor, as well as literary figures Dr. Aiken and his sister, Anna Letitia Barbauld, and the Quaker Gurney family, including John Joseph, who was to become an important figure later in the 19th century, and Elizabeth, who after her marriage to Joseph Fry became a leading advocate for prison reform; meets Sarah Siddons, the actress, in Norwich (September)

1789:   French Revolution begins (14 July), greeted enthusiastically by Norwich circle

1790:   anonymous publication of Dangers of Coquetry, her first novel, (Minerva Press)

1791:   production of Adelaide (Jan 4, 6) at private theatre in Norwich, with Amelia Alderson playing the lead role

1793: introduction to Godwin at a dinner given in his honour by her father in Norwich

1794:   visit to London where she spends time with Godwin and attends treason trial of Horne Tooke, Thomas Holcroft, Thomas Hardy and John Thelwall; she and her father consider emigrating to America should the trial end in conviction

1795:   publication of 17 poems in the Norwich Cabinet (Vols I-III), a radical periodical; publication of song “My Love to War is Going,” music by Edward Smith Biggs and words by Amelia Alderson (an early example of a collaboration that was to continue for many years)

1796:   introduction to Mary Wollstonecraft; close friendship ensues in spite of rumours of Godwin’s attachment to Amelia; energetically engaged in the writing of two comedies for the stage for which she seeks criticism from both Godwin and Wollstonecraft (neither play apparently was produced)

1797:   death of Wollstonecraft, cooling of connection with Godwin

1798:   marriage to painter John Opie (8 May); social circle includes women of fashion such as Lady Cork and Lady Caroline Lamb, artists such as James Northcote, and writers such as Elizabeth Inchbald

1799:   publication of 4 poems in first Annual Anthology, favourably reviewed

1800:   about this time AAO emerges as skilled amateur singer and author of a number of songs published for Robert Birchall’s Musical Circulating Library

1801:   publication of The Father and Daughter, a Tale, in Prose: with an Epistle from The Maid of Corinth to her Lover; and Other Poetical Pieces by Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme & Brown; 2nd edition (of the
prose tale only, but advertising a volume of poems soon to be published); engraved portrait (Mackenzie after John Opie) with “Memoirs of Mrs. Opie” published in The Lady’s Monthly Museum (March)

1802:   publication of Poems and An Elegy to the Memory of the Late Duke of Bedford; songs solicited by Thompson for his collection of Welsh airs

1803:   engraved portrait (Ridley after John Opie) with biographical notice published in European Magazine (May)

1805:   publication of Adeline Mowbray: or, The Mother and Daughter (Jan), a novel based in part on the relationship between Godwin and Wollstonecraft

1806:   publication of Simple Tales, a collection of stories

1807:   death of John Opie (9 April), buried in St. Paul’s (20 April); AAO returns to Norwich where she edits her husband’s lectures delivered to the Royal Academy just prior to his death; publication of The Warrior’s Return and Other Poems; engraved portrait (Hopwood after John Opie) with “Memoir” attributed to Mrs. Taylor published in The Cabinet (June)

1809:   publication of John Opie’s Lectures on Painting, with a Memoir by AAO; Paer creates opera Agnese, libretto by Luigi Buonovoglia based on Filippo Casari’s Italian adaptation of The Father and Daughter, Agnesi di Fiz-Endry

1810:   production of Twenty Years Ago! a new melodramatic entertainment in two acts, based on “Love and Duty” from Simple Tales; music by Pocock, libretto by Welsh

1812:   publication of Temper; or, Domestic Scenes: A Tale; quotes 4 lines from William Hayley’s The Triumph of Temper (1781) leading to sustained correspondence

1813:   publication of Tales of Real Life

1814:   leaves Unitarian church and begins attending Quaker services

1815:   production of Smiles and Tears, a play by Mrs Kemble based on The Father and Daughter (15 December); production of The Noble Outlaw, a comic opera by Henry Rowley Bishop with one
lyric, “The Pilgrim of Love,” with words by Opie republished many times throughout the century; engraved portrait (Heath after John Opie) published in Lady’s Magazine (October); introduced to Sir Walter Scott, who tells her he wept on reading The Father and Daughter

1816:   publication of Valentine’s Eve

1817:   L’Agnese first produced in London; engraved portrait (Hogwood after John Opie) published in The Ladies’ Monthly Museum (February)

1818:   publication of New Tales, including “The Ruffian Boy” which is later adapted for the stage by Edward Fitzball and by Thomas Dibden

1820:   publication of Tales of the Heart; production of The Lear of Private Life; or, The Father and Daughter, a play adapted from AAO’s novel by William Moncrieff

1821:   anonymous publication of The Only Child; or, Portia Bellenden. A Tale; engraved portrait (Cooper after John Opie) with “Biographical Sketches of Illustrious and Distinguished Characters: Mrs. Opie”
published in La Belle Assemblée (January)

1822:   publication of Madeline: A Tale (her last acknowledged novel)

1825:   (11 August) application accepted for admission to The Society of Friends, cementing a long friendship with the Gurney family; because of Quaker prohibitions concerning the worldliness of fiction, AAO shifts to more didactic works; publishes Lying in All its Branches, as well as Tales of the Pemberton Family (for children); death of her father, James Alderson (20 October)

1826:   publication of The Black Man’s Lament (anti-slavery poem for children)

1828:   publication of Detraction Displayed

1829:   visit to Paris: profile medal sculpted by Pierre Jean David (David d’Angers), entertained in social circle of Lafayette; AAO records that she was “courted for … [her] past, not …[her] recent writings”; she returned again the following year

1831:   production of “The Ruffian Boy: a melodrama in two acts” by Thomas Dibden, based on the story from New Tales

1833:   extended journey to Cornwall, visiting John Opie’s relatives and St. Michael’s Mount

1834:   publication of Lays for the Dead

1835:   visit to the Continent

1839:   “The Novice: A True Story” solicited for Finden’s Tableaux, edited by  M.R. Mitford

1840:   attends Anti-Slavery Convention in London, sits for Benjamin Haydon for his group portrait of the convention; publication of “Recollections of Days in Belgium” in Tait’s Edinburgh Magazine

1841:   publication of “Recollections of an Authoress” in Chambers’s Edinburgh Journal

1842:   approached by printers Grove and Sons for permission to reprint her works, which she grants despite Quaker prohibitions on involvement with fiction

1843:   publication of revised edition of Father and Daughter (Longman and Grove)

1844:   publication of revised edition of Adeline Mowbray (Longman and Grove)

1851:   Great Exhibition, where AAO suggests a wheelchair race to a fellow invalid

1853:   death of AAO (2 December) in Norwich; subsequent burial in her father’s grave in the Friends’ Cemetery