Marie Louise de la Ramée Biography

Ouida (1 January 1839 – 25 January 1908) was the pseudonym of the English novelist Maria Louise Ramé (although she preferred to be known as Marie Louise de la Ramée).

Maria Louise Ramé was born at Bury St. Edmunds, England. Her mother was English and her father was from Guernsey; his first language was French. She derived her pen name from her own childish pronunciation of her given name "Louise".

She moved into the Langham Hotel, London in 1867. There she wrote in bed, by candlelight, with the curtains drawn and surrounded by purple flowers. She ran up huge hotel and florists bills, and commanded soirees that included soldiers, politicians, literary lights (including Oscar Wilde, Algernon Swinburne, Robert Browning and Wilkie Collins), and artists (including John Millais). Many of her stories and characters were based upon people she invited to her salons at The Langham. Ouida was described by William Allingham in his diary of 1872 as of short stature, with a "sinister, clever face" and with a "voice like a carving knife."

Convinced of her ability to influence foreign policy through a combination of womanly wiles and strategic brilliance, she made suggestions to some of her famous visitors which she thought they took seriously. Later, while living in France and Italy, Ouida continued to host locals and expatriates alike at her gatherings.

Ouida considered herself a serious artist. She was inspired by Byron in particular, and was interested in other artists of all kinds. Sympathetic descriptions of tragic painters and singers occurred in her later novels. Her work often combines romanticism with social criticism. In her novel, Puck, a talking dog narrates his views on society. Views and Opinions includes essays in her own voice on a variety of social topics.

For many years Ouida lived in London, but about 1871 she moved to Italy. She rented Villa Farinola at Scandicci, south of Bellosguardo near Florence. As before, she used her locations as inspiration for the setting and characters in her novels. The villa was a model for that portrayed in her novel, Pascarel (1873). The British and American colony in Florence was satirised in her novel, Friendship (1878).

She continued to live in Italy until her death in 1908. Although successful, she did not manage her money well. She was poor by the time she died of pneumonia on 25 January 1908, in Viareggio, Italy. She is buried in the English Cemetery in Bagni di Lucca, Italy.