Wolverhampton BTW

Frances Maclellan

Maclellan, Frances, c.1808—1836

by Benjamin Colbert

Frances Maclellan was born around 1808, her parentage currently unknown, although she is likely to have been raised in part by the unnamed ‘aunt’ to whom she dedicated her Sketches from Corfu.

Around the age of 19, she became governess to the two daughters of Amelia Heber (1789-1870) and Reginald Heber (1783-1826; ODNB), Bishop of Calcutta, most likely just after the widowed Amelia Heber returned to England from India on 14 May 1827. When in 1830 Amelia Heber married Count Demetrius Valsamachi, a Greek nobleman, Frances Maclellan continued in her employ, moving with the family to Corfu. (Such was the negative public feeling surrounding Heber’s remarriage that notices of Maclellan’s death in 1836 invariably placed her in Corfu as the ‘instructress to the children of a distinguished family’, as if this family and the Heber-Valsamachis were not one and the same.)

Soon after Maclellan returned to England in 1834 or 1835, she published her Sketches, based on notes gathered during her residence with the Valsamachis. She had met her husband, an English naval officer, on the return voyage, and they were eventually married. Three weeks after that event, he was called back to join his ship in Malta; within three months, Frances Maclellan sailed from Falmouth intending to join him, but learned of his death en route.

Sketches received good reviews and achieved some popularity. Maclellan followed it with a semi-fictional sequel set in France and Switzerland, Evenings Abroad (1836), while shorter pieces, including 'Books and the Lovers of Them' and ‘Isidore’, appeared posthumously in the annual, Friendship’s Offering, for 1837 and 1839, respectively. This activity was short-lived, however, as Maclellan developed cancer of the mouth early in 1836. A painful operation in which some of her jaw bone was removed seemed to give her brief respite, but it was soon evident that the cancer had spread. She died at Richmond, near London, on 5 June 1836.


The Lady’s Mag. 9 (Aug. 1836): 140-42. Google Books. Web. 18 Oct. 2017.

‘Mrs. Maclellan’. Gentleman’s Mag. (Aug. 1836): 216-17. Google Books. Web. 18 Oct. 2017.

‘Mrs. Maclellan’. The Literary Gazette 20.1013 (Sat., 18 June 1836): 395. Google Books. Web. 18 Oct. 2017.


Title Published
Sketches of Corfu 1835

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