Charlotte Elizabeth Tonna

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Charlotte Elizabeth Tonna
Charlotte Elizabeth Tonna
Born (1790-10-01)1 October 1790
Norwich, Norfolk, England
Died 12 July 1846(1846-07-12) (aged 55)
Ramsgate, Kent, England
Pen name Charlotte Elizabeth
Occupation Writer (novelist)
Nationality English
Period 19th century
Genre evangelical Protestant literature,
Children's Literature

Charlotte Elizabeth Tonna (1 October 1790 – 12 July 1846) was a popular Victorian English writer and novelist who wrote as Charlotte Elizabeth. Her work focused on promoting women's rights (see her books The Wrongs of Women and Helen Fleetwood) and evangelical Protestantism. She went deaf at the age of 10. Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote of her memoir Personal Recollections (1841): "We know of no piece of autobiography in the English language which can compare with this in richness of feeling and description and power of exciting interest."[1]


She was the daughter of Michael Browne, rector of St. Giles's Church and minor canon of Norwich Cathedral, where she was born on 1 October 1790. In 1813 she married Captain George Phelan of the 60th regiment, and spent two years with him while he served with his regiment in Nova Scotia (1817–1819).[2] They then returned to Ireland, where Phelan owned a small estate near Kilkenny. The marriage was not a happy one, and they separated about 1824. Mrs Phelan subsequently resided with her brother, Captain John Browne, at Clifton, where she made the acquaintance of Hannah More. She later moved to Sandhurst, and then to London. In 1837 Captain Phelan died in Dublin, and in 1841 Charlotte married Lewis Hippolytus Joseph Tonna. She died at Ramsgate on 12 July 1846, and was buried there.

Writing career

While in Ireland Mrs. Tonna began to write, as "Charlotte Elizabeth," tracts for various religious societies. She was very hostile to the Catholic Church, and some of her publications are said to have been placed on the Index Expurgatorius.[3] In 1837 she published an abridgment of Foxe's Book of Martyrs. She edited The Protestant Annual, 1840, and The Christian Lady's Magazine from 1836, and The Protestant Magazine from 1841 until her death. She also wrote poems, two of which, The Maiden City and No Surrender, were written specially for the Orange cause. Writing in 1899, O'Donoghue stated that these "are extremely vigorous and popular. They are quite the best Orange songs that have been written."[4]


  • Zadoc, the Outcast of Israel (London, 1825)
  • Perseverance: a Tale (London, 1826)
  • Rachel: a Tale (London, 1826)
  • Consistency: a Tale (London, 1826)
  • Osric: a Missionary Tale, and other Poems (Dublin, 1826?)
  • Izram: a Mexican Tale, and other Poems (London, 1826)
  • The System: a Tale of the West Indies (London, 1827)
  • The Rockite: an Irish Story (London, 1829)
  • The Museum (Dublin, 1832)
  • The Mole (Dublin, 1835)
  • Alice Benden, or the Bowed Shilling (London, 1838)
  • Letters from Ireland, 1837 (London, 1838)
  • Derriana
  • Deny (1833; 10th ed. 1847)
  • Chapters on Flowers (London, 1836)
  • Conformity: a Tale (London, 1841)
  • Helen Fleetwood (London, 1841)
  • Falsehood and Truth (Liverpool, 1841)
  • Personal Recollections (London, 1841)
  • Dangers and Duties (London, 1841)
  • Judah's Lion (London, 1843)
  • The Wrongs of Woman, in four parts (London, 1843-4)
  • The Church Visible in all Ages (London, 1844)
  • Judea Capta: an Historical Sketch of the Destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans (London, 1845)
  • Works of Charlotte Elizabeth (with introduction by Mrs. H. B. Stowe, 2nd edit. New York, 1845)
  • Elizabeth, Charlotte; Kidder, Daniel P. (1846). Protection; or, the Candle and the Dog. New York: Lane & Tippett. p. 27. Retrieved 21 September 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Bible Characteristics (London, 1851)
  • War with the Saints (London, 1852)
  • Short Stories for Children (Dublin, 1854)
  • Tales and Illustrations (Dublin, 1854)
  • Stories from the Bible (London, 1861)
  • Charlotte Elizabeth's Stories (collected, New York, 1868)
  • Kindness to Animals: or, The Sin of Cruelty Exposed and Rebuked (Philadelphia: American Sunday-School Union, 1845) (available online)
  • Little Oaths (New York: American Tract Society, 18--?)(available online)
  • Patty; or, Beware of Meddling(Sunday-School Union of the Methodist Episcopal Church, 18--?)(available online)
  • Richard and Rover (New York: Lane & Tippett for the Sunday-School Union of the Methodist Episcopal Church, 1846)(available online)
  • The Bible The Best Book (New York: American Tract Society, 185-?)(available online)
  • The Burying-ground. (N.Y. American Tract Society, 185-?)
  • The Newfoundland fisherman: a true story (N.Y. American Tract Society, 18--?)
  • Personal Recollections. 1841 (London: R. B. Seeley & W. Burnside, 1841)
  • The Perils of the Nation: An Appeal to the Legislature, The Clergy, and the Higher and Middle Classes (London: Seeley, Burnside and Seeley, 1843)



  1. Acadiensis. 1901, p. 228
  2. George Phelan (1791–1837) was a friend of her brother. The couple were married on 15 May 1813. While in Halifax, he joined the 7th Battalion of the 60th Regiment of Foot. He was promoted to captain. From 1815 to 1816, Tonna's husband was with his regiment in Annapolis Royal, British North America. His unit then moved on to Fort Edward in Windsor, Nova Scotia, where he stayed until 1818. She writes obliquely of "adverse circumstances" and of having been through "many waters of affliction". In addition, her doctor wrote that she was "sufferings during a very unhappy marriage to one really deranged in mind'"
  3. Obituary of Mrs. Tonna in The Gentleman's Magazine, 1846, p. 433
  4.  O'Donoghue, David James (1885–1900). [ "Tonna, Charlotte Elizabeth" ] Check |ws link in chapter= value (help). Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>



 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain[ "Tonna, Charlotte Elizabeth" ] Check |ws link in chapter= value (help). Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links