Procter, Adelaide Ann
b Bedford Sq, Bloomsbury, central London 1825, d St Marylebone, London 1864. She grew up in a literary household and circle of friends; her first poems were published (under the name ‘Mary Berwick’) in Household Words and All the Year Round by Dickens, who also admired her work with many of London’s homeless and distressed people. Her verses ‘The Lost Chord’, set to music, became an immensely popular Victorian ballad, still well-known enough to be comically satirised (by Jimmy Durante) and seriously criticised (by Charles Cleall) in the mid-20th cent. She was also gifted in music, languages, and drawing. She became a Roman Catholic in 1851 and published Legends and Lyrics: a Book of Verse in 1858, enlarged 1862, for which her friend Dickens later added a warm Introduction; she worked, he said, ‘with a flushed eagerness that disregarded season, weather, time of day or night, food, rest’. A Chaplet of Verse (also 1862) was sold in aid of the Providence Row Night Refuge for Homeless Women and Children. Her death, preceded by 15 months of illness, was almost certainly hastened by her tireless social and compassionate work. In her 1998 biography The Life and Work of Adelaide Procter, Gill Gregory describes her as a Victorian woman who slowly moved from the position of dutiful daughter and retiring, ladylike poetess to that of a woman who challenged mid-Victorian mores and conventions and championed the cause of single and homeless women.’ No.209.