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Charlotte King was born in either 1771 or 1772 to John King (himself born as Jacob Rey), a moneylender and radical writer. Her father divorced her mother, Sara, under Jewish law in 1784 and set up home with the dowager countess of Lanesborough.
Little is known of Charlotte’s early decades.
Charlotte met and began to live with Nicholas Byrne, a widower, in the early 1800’s. Byrne was an editor and eventual partner of London's The Morning Post. The poetry editor there was the esteemed poet and actress Mary Robinson, a great influence on the young Charlotte who contributed poems under her pseudonym of Rosa Matilda.
Charlotte first published her poetry volume ‘Hours of Solitude’ in 1805 as well as her first novel ‘Confessions of the Nun of St. Omer’. In 1806 she caused controversy with her the publication of her novel Zofloya; or, The Moor. With its racial, religious and difficult subject matter the controversy is unsurprising.
Between 1806-1809 she gave birth to three children fathered by Byrne. They would eventually marry on July 1st 1815.
In her novels Charlotte abandoned the female as a soft and gentle creature and instead created characters who were fully-formed, aggressive and often physically violent able to demonstrate powerful sexual desires and ambition.
As well as her four major novels she was also a distinguished poet later writing a well-regarded tribute to George IV in 1822.
In the literary world, Charlotte Dacre, as she became known, has been an obscure and forgotten figure but her works, with their feminist streak, are becoming ever more popular.
Charlotte Dacre died on 7th November 1825.
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