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Amelia Opie (1769-1853)

Amelia Opie was born on 12 November in a house on Colegate (now demolished) which stood opposite St. George's Church; there is a plaque on the wall to commemorate the spot. She was the daughter of the Quaker physician James Alderson.

Amelia was a talented and versatile writer who wrote plays, novels, poetry and thousands of letters. In 1798 she married the painter John Opie and moved into a house which still stands on the corner of what is now Opie Street and Castle Meadow.

Portrait of Amelia Opie

Portrait of Amelia Opie painted by her husband John Opie

Amelia Opie Plaque Colegate

Amelia Opie house on Opie St Norwich

Amelia Opie's House on Castle Meadow, Norwich

Bust of Amelia Opie

Amelia was a precocious talent and her first novel The Dangers of Coquetry was published when she was only 18. However, she is probably best known for her romantic novel Adeline Mowbray - published in 1804 - which features a mother-daughter relationship. She was encouraged to write the novel by her friend Mary Wollstoncraft. She was satirised by T.L. Peacock in Headlong Hall as Miss Poppyseed as 'an indefatigable compounder of novels'.

She was a frequent visitor to London and socialised with other famous writers such as Sir Walter Scott, Wordsworth and Sheridan. She also knew the Norfolk writer George Borrow. In 1825 she made the decision to become a 'Plain' Quaker - which meant adopting grey gowns and a plain bonnet. On the roof of the shop opposite her house in Opie Street there is a statue her wearing this style of clothing.

She is buried in the Gildencroft Quaker Cemetery off Chatham Street in the same grave as her father. The grave is located in the far left hand corner next to the wall. The inscription on the stone has virtually disappeared so it is not easy to identify. The graveyard is now left as a wildlife area by the Norwich City Council.

Plaque on wall in Castle Meadow

Plaque on wall of house - Castle Meadow

Norwich Castle Museum has a bust of Amelia Opie which was made in 1836 by the French sculptor Pierre-John David (aka David D'Angers). The bust, which is in white marble, depicts her in her 60s wearing a Quaker bonnet.

The Castle Museum also holds a number of paintings by John Opie - including one of John Crome. Opie also painted the famous portrait of the poet Robert Southey who regularly visited Norwich to stay with his friend William Taylor. Southey once said of the City: 'For society, of all places I have seen, Norwich is the best.'


More photographs of Amelia Opie locations




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