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Sarah Grand was the penname of Frances Elizabeth Bellenden Clarke, born on June 10, 1854 in Northern Ireland. Both her parents were English, and in 1861, after the death of her father, the family moved to Scarborough in England. With unhappy experiences at boarding schools, Clarke married, at age sixteen, David McFall, an army surgeon who was twenty-three years her senior, becoming the stepmother to McFall’s two sons. The marriage was not a happy one. Clarke’s first novel, Ideala, was published at her own expense in 1888. Determined to break off from her unhappy marriage, she supported herself through writing professionally, living with her only son, David, after her divorce in 1890. Her controversial 1893 novel, The Heavenly Twins, was an unexpected bestseller, despite being rejected by many publishers, including one advised by George Meredith. Grand lived a long life but published relatively little. She continued her involvement in women’s equality and suffrage movement, and moved to Bath in 1920, where she was lady mayoress alongside mayor Cedric Chivers. She died in Calne, Wiltshire on May 12, 1943.
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