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Beck, Elizabeth Louisa Moresby

Main entryBeck, Elizabeth Louisa Moresby
Birth placeQueenstown, Cork, Ireland
Birth datec1860
Death placeKyoto, Japan
Death date3 January 1931
BRS document number000000129
Identifier0240
Birth nameElizabeth Louisa Moresby
Alternate namesLouis Moresby, E. Barrington, Lily Adams Beck, Elizabeth Louisa Beck, Eliza Louisa Moresby Beck, Lily Moresby Adams, Lily Adams Moresby, L. Adams Beck, L. Moresby
Married nameHodgkinson, Beck
Marital statusmarried
Religious affiliationBuddhist, Theosophist
BiographyAs the daughter of Admiral John Moresby (1830-1922), a travelling Royal Navy Captain who charted the coast of New Guinea and who inspired the naming of that country's capital city, Elizabeth Louisa Moresby (c1860-1931), known as "Lily," spent much of her childhood exposed to foreign nations and cultures. It was perhaps through her father's work that she met her first husband, Royal Navy lieutenant and commander Edward Western Hodgkinson (c1848-c1910). Their first child, Harry Drake Hodgkinson, would prove a valuable figure in Lily's career as the caretaker of her posthumous copyright concerns. Shortly after being widowed, she married again in 1912, this time to fellow widower and newly-retired solicitor and Ironmongers' Company clerk, Ralph Coker Adams Beck (c1848-1935). The couple travelled together throughout Asia, with stops in Egypt, India, China, Tibet, and Japan, where Elizabeth picked up the interest in Asian and Buddhist cultures that would carry through her writings for the next two decades. Elizabeth was about sixty years old when she began to publish her novels; astonishingly, she produced over thirty-five books after the Becks settled in Victoria, British Columbia, in 1919. Although Ralph soon returned to England, Elizabeth remained in Victoria for close to a decade. A member of the Canadian Authors Association, she included Duncan Campbell Scott among her literary friends, as well as individuals who frequently attended topical lecture series offered by the eccentric doyenne at her home. Adding to her mystique, she wrote under three pseudonyms, each with its own purpose: "Louis Moresby" for nonfiction, "E. Barrington" for historical romances, and "L. Adams Beck" for stories with Asian settings and philosophies. In 1927, her popularity as "E. Barrington" led her to begin to sign many of her books as either "L. Adams Beck (E. Barrington)" or "E. Barrington (L. Adams Beck)." The "Louis Moresby" titles were kept separate. Elizabeth wrote very quickly, attributing her productivity to her sparse vegetarian diet and Buddhist habits of mental discipline; her best-selling fictional biography of Byron, GLORIOUS APOLLO (1925), took only one month to complete. Her use of history and the occult accounts for much of her popularity. Lily returned to the Orient in the 1920s to continue her studies of Buddhism, and died in Kyoto in 1931.
TravelEgypt; India; China; Tibet; Japan
Other notes"Lily Moresby (Mrs. Hodgkinson)" is credited as an invaluable collaborator in her father's TWO ADMIRALS: SIR JOHN MORESBY, JOHN MORESBY (1909). Beck's will included a bequest to be applied to the Kyukoin Temple in Koyassam, Japan, demonstrating the author's dedication to her faith.
ResidencesQueenstown, Ireland (c1860 - ); Havant, Hampshire, England (1881); Greenwich, London, England (1891); Victoria, British Columbia (1919); Kyoto, Japan (1920s - 1931)
Geographic regionsBritish Columbia
Primary genresfiction (popular); non-fiction
BooksAs L. Adams Beck: DREAMS AND DELIGHTS (1920); THE KEY OF DREAMS: A ROMANCE OF THE ORIENT (1922); THE NINTH VIBRATION, AND OTHER STORIES (1922); THE PERFUME OF THE RAINBOW, AND OTHER STORIES (1923); THE TREASURE OF HO: A ROMANCE (1924); THE WAY OF STARS: A ROMANCE OF REINCARNATION (1925); THE SPLENDOUR OF ASIA: THE STORY AND TEACHING OF THE BUDDHA (1926); THE HOUSE OF FULFILMENT: THE ROMANCE OF A SOUL (1927); THE STORY OF ORIENTAL PHILOSOPHY (1928); THE WAY OF POWER: STUDIES IN THE OCCULT (1928); THE GARDEN OF VISION: A STORY OF GROWTH (1929); THE OPENERS OF THE GATE: STORIES OF THE OCCULT (1930); THE JOYOUS STORY OF ASTRID (1931); THE GHOST PLAYS OF JAPAN (1933)(reprinted from THE PERFUME OF THE RAINBOW) ; DREAM TEA (1934); A BEGINNER’S BOOK OF YOGA: FROM THE WRITINGS OF L. ADAMS BECK (1937) ed. David Merrill Bramble; THE LIFE OF THE BUDDHA (1939)—Reprint of The Splendour of Asia (1926) As E. Barrington: “THE LADIES!” A SHINING CONSTELLATION OF WIT AND BEAUTY (1922); THE CHASTE DIANA (1923); THE DIVINE LADY: A ROMANCE OF NELSON AND EMMA HAMILTON (1924); THE GALLANTS (1924); GLORIOUS APOLLO (1925); THE EXQUISITE PERDITA (1926); THE THUNDERER: A ROMANCE OF NAPOLEON AND JOSEPHINE (1927); THE EMPRESS OF HEARTS: A ROMANCE OF MARIE ANTOINETTE (1928); THE LAUGHING QUEEN: A ROMANCE OF CLEOPATRA (1929); THE DUEL OF THE QUEENS: A ROMANCE OF MARY, QUEEN OF SCOTLAND (1930); THE IRISH BEAUTIES (1931); ANNE BOLEYN (1932); THE GREAT ROMANTIC, BEING AN INTERPRETATION OF MR. SAML. PEPYS AND ELIZABETH HIS E (1933); THE GRACES (1934); THE WOOING OF THE QUEENS (1934); THE CROWNED LOVERS: THE TRUE ROMANCE OF CHARLES THE FIRST AND HIS QUEEN (1935) As Louis Moresby: THE GLORY OF EGYPT (1926); RUBIES (1927); CAPTAIN JAVA (1928)
PeriodicalsASIA; ATLANTIC MONTHLY; CANADIAN BOOKMAN; FORUM; JAPANESE GASSHO; POPULAR MAGAZINE
Other publicationsIntroduction to: Yoshida Kenk o, THE HARVEST OF LEISURE, TRANSLATED FROM THE TSURE-ZURE GUSA by Ryukichi Kurata (London: Murray, 1931)
OrganizationsCanadian Authors Association
Father's nameAdmiral John Moresby
Life dates of father15 March 1830, Allerford, Somerset, England - 12 July 1922, Fareham, Hampshire, England; m. 1859
Father's noteBritish Naval Officer; hydrographer; explored coast of New Guinea and Port Moresby; searched for shorter route between Australia and China; son of Admiral of the Fleet Sir Fairfax Moresby, who served under Admiral Nelson; mother knew Lord Byron
Mother's nameJane Willis Scott
Life dates of motherQueenstown, Ireland - 1876; m. 1859
Spouse 1Edward Western Hodgkinson
Life dates of spouse 1c1848, Southsea, Hampshire, England - c1910, London England
Spouse 1 notelieutenant and commander in Royal Navy
Marriage 1 dateLate 1870s
Spouse 2Ralph Coker Adams Beck
Life dates of spouse 2c1848, Cheam, Surrey, England - 27 December 1935, Dorking, Surrey, England
Spouse 2 notesolicitor; Master of the Company and clerk to Irongmongers' Company in London; retired 1912
Marriage 2 date1912
Children number1
Children's names and datesHarry Drake Hodgkinson (c1882 - 1953)
Biographical referencesFEMINIST COMPANION TO LITERATURE IN ENGLISH (1990); Walford, THE COUNTY FAMILIES OF THE UNITED KINGDOM: OR, ROYAL MANUAL OF THE TITLED AND UNTITLED ARISTOCRACY OF ENGLAND, WALES, SCOTLAND, AND IRELAND, 59th Edition (1919), p. 92; Dagg, THE FEMININE GAZE (2001), pp. 35-37; Thomas, CANADIAN NOVELISTS, 1920-1945 (1946); 1881 England Census; 1891 England Census; England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1861-1941
Bibliographic referencesWatters, CHECKLIST OF CANADIAN LITERATURE...1620-1960 (1970), pp. 244, 759, 908
Research referencescomplete
Archival referencesThree letters to Duncan Campbell Scott, D.C. Scott papers, National Archives of Canada; Letter to Glen Walton Blodgett, 27 December 1924, Clifton Waller Barrett Library, University of Virginia, Charlottetown, Virginia, USA
Image creditsImage from N. de Bertrand Lugrin, "L. Adams Beck--The Lady with the Mask." MACLEANS (1 November 1925): 72.
Unverified titlesTHE RENEWAL OF YOUTH AND AFTER (1924); Introduction to THE SKETCH OF THE LADY SEI SHONAGON (1930), translated from the Japanese by Nobuko Kobayashi
CopyrightThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0) at http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/. Please cite Canada's Early Women Writers. SFU Library Digital Collections. Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, BC, Canada. 1980-2014.