Charlotte Yonge was one of the most prolific and bestselling novelists of the Victorian period. During a lengthy writing career that lasted from the early 1850s to the 1890s Charlotte was highly regarded by contemporaries such as Tennyson and Kingsley. Her work is central to an understanding of the development of the domestic novel.
Charlotte Mary Yonge was born in Otterbourne in 1823 and was educated at home by her father, studying Latin, Greek, French and algebra. Born into a religious family background and much influenced by the Tractarian teaching of John Keble, Vicar of Hursley, Charlotte is sometimes referred to as ‘the novelist of the Oxford Movement’. Her Christian faith, and her work with children, were fundamental parts of her life and she taught in the local Sunday School for many years.
Charlotte began writing in 1848 and published over 200 novels and non-fiction works. She was also a founder and editor for 40 years of ‘The Monthly Packet’, a magazine for children. Her work was widely read and respected in the 19th century.
In 1868 a new parish was formed to the south of Yonge’s home village of Otterbourne containing the villages of Eastley and Barton. Yonge donated £500 towards the parish church and was asked to choose which of the two villages the parish should be named after. She chose Eastley, but decided that it should be spelt ‘Eastleigh’ as she perceived this to be more modern.
Throughout her career the profits from various novels were used to fund charitable works and just before her death The Charlotte Mary Yonge scholarship fund was set up to assist the entrance of girls to Oxbridge colleges. Charlotte Yonge died at the age of 77 and was buried at Otterbourne Parish Church in 1901.