BECK, Lily Adams (1862-1931)




Author Tags: 1900-1950, Fiction, Religion, Women

QUICK REFERENCE ENTRY:

The most prolific female author of British Columbia in the 1920s, Lily Adams Beck, daughter of Royal Navy Captain John Moresby, wrote most of her 30-odd books in Victoria in less than ten years. It has been suggested she was the first female fantasy writer of Canada, having published The Ninth Vibration and Other Stories (1922), The Key of Dreams (1922) and Dreams and Delights (1926). Her real name was Elizabeth Louisa Moresby.

In her esoteric works, such as The Splendor of Asia (1926) and The Story of Oriental Philosophy (1928), she attempted to interpret the life and teachings of Buddha. Her romance entitled The House of Fulfillment: The Romance of a Soul (1927) incorporates some of the Hindu philosophy of the Upanishads to explain supernatural phenomena. The Garden of Vision (1929) is about an Englishwoman who forsakes materialism to seek wisdom and spirituality in Japan. “The publications of L.A. Beck and The Brother XII,” wrote literary critic Charles Lillard in 1989, “must be considered the first serious religious writing done outside the established churches of Vancouver Island, and perhaps in British Columbia.”

Having travelled in India, Tibet, China, Burma, Japan and Egypt, Beck was a staunch Buddhist. Arriving in Victoria in 1919, she surrounded herself with Oriental art and servants. A strict vegetarian with ascetic inclinations, she entertained fortnightly at her home on Mountjoy Avenue in Oak Bay.

Beck began her career by publishing stories in the Atlantic Monthly and other publications, which were gathered into a popular collection, Dreams and Delights (1926). Beck used various pen names such as Louis Moresby for non-fiction and E. Barrington for popular romances set in exotic locales, such as The Way of Stars: A Romance of Reincarnation (1925), The Thunderer: A Romance of Napoleon and Josephine (1927) and The Laughing Queen: Romance of Cleopatra (1929), set in ancient Egypt. She was also known as Elizabeth Louisa Beck, Eliza Louisa Moresby Beck and Lily Moresby Adams.

Beck’s The Divine Lady: A Romance of Nelson and Emma Hamilton was made into a film in northern California in 1929. The script was credited to E. Barrington, Harry Carr, Forrest Halsey, Agnes Christine Johnston and Edwin Justus Mayer. The producers were Walter Morosco and Richard A. Rowland. It gained an Oscar for its director Frank Lloyd.

Associated with the rise of Theosophy, Lily Adams Beck continued to write her fantastical novels of faraway places from Victoria until her death in Kyoto, Japan, in 1931.

FULL ENTRY:

The most prolific female author of British Columbia in the 1920s, Lily Adams Beck, daughter of the Royal Navy Captain John Moresby, wrote most of her 30-odd books in Victoria in less than ten years. It has been suggested she was the first female fantasy writer of Canada, having first published The Ninth Vibration and Other Stories (1922), Dreams and Delights (1922) and The Key of Dreams (1922).

In her esoteric works, such as The Splendor of Asia (1926) and The Story of Oriental Philosophy (1928), she attempted to interpret the life and teachings of Buddha, and her romance entitled The House of Fulfillment: The Romance of a Soul (1927) incorporates some of the Indian philosophy of the Upanishads to explain supernatural phenomena. The Garden of Vision (1929) is about an Englishwoman who forsakes materialism to seek wisdom and spirituality in Japan. “The publications of L.A. Beck and The Brother, XII,” wrote literary critic Charles Lillard in 1989, “must be considered the first serious religious writing done outside the established churches of Vancouver Island, and perhaps in British Columbia.”

Having travelled in India, Tibet, China, Burma, Japan and Egypt, Beck was a staunch Buddhist who came to Victoria in 1919. Surrounded by her Oriental art and Oriental servants, she entertained fortnightly at her home on Mountjoy Avenue in Oak Bay as a strict vegetarian with ascetic inclinations.

Beck began her career by publishing stories in The Atlantic Monthly and other publications. These were gathered into a popular collection in 1926. Beck used various pen names such as Louis Moresby and E. Barrington to also write popular romances set in exotic locales, such as The Way of Stars: A Romance of Reincarnation (1925), The Glory of Egypt (1926) and The Laughing Queen: Romance of Cleopatra (1929), all set in ancient Egypt and all penned under different names. She was also known as Elizabeth Louisa Beck, Eliza Louisa Moresby Beck and Lily Moresby Adams. Under her pseudonym of E. Barrington she wrote The Thunderer; A Romance of Napoleon and Josephine (1927). Her historical romance called The Divine Lady: A Romance of Nelson and Emma Hamilton was made into a film in northern California in 1929. The cast included Corinne Griffith, Victor Varconi, H.B. Warner, Ian Keith, Marie Dressler, Dorothy Cumming, William Conklin, Montagu Love, Julia Swayne Gordon, Helen Jerome Eddy, Michael Vavitch, Evelyn Hall and Joan Bennett. The script was credited to E. Barrington, Harry Carr, Forrest Halsey, Agnes Christine Johnston and Edwin Justus Mayer. The producers were Walter Morosco and Richard A. Rowland. It gained an Oscar for its director Frank Lloyd.

Other Beck titles include How Great is the Glory of Kwannon!, The Building of the Taj Majal, The Fire of Beauty, The Hatred of the Queen, The Incomparable Lady, The Interpreter and The Round-Faced Beauty, and Anne Boleyn (1932). Now sometimes associated with the rise of Theosophy, Lily Adams Beck also lived on Simcoe Street in Victoria and continued to write her fantastical novels of faraway places until her death in Kyoto, Japan, in 1931.


BOOKS

As Lily Adams Beck

Lily Adams Beck (1922), The Ninth Vibration and Other Stories, New York: Dodd, Mead. (It includes The Ninth Vibration and The Interpreter.)
Lily Adams Beck (1922), Dreams and Delights .
Lily Adams Beck (1922), The Key of Dreams.
Lily Adams Beck (1923), The Perfume of the Rainbow .
Lily Adams Beck (1923), The Treasure of Ho, A Romance, London: Collins .
Lily Adams Beck (1925), The Ways of the Stars, A Romance of Reincarnation, New York: Dodd, Mead .
Lily Adams Beck (1926), The Splendour of Asia .
Lily Adams Beck (1927), Way of Power: Studies in the Occult .
Lily Adams Beck (1928?), The Story of Oriental Philosophy . (This book can sometimes be found catalogued as published in year 1923.)
Lily Adams Beck (1929), The Garden of Vision Lily Adams Beck (1930), The Openers of the Gate, Stories of the Occult, New York: Cosmopolitan Book Co. (It includes The Openers of the Gate, Lord Killary, How Felicity Came Home, Waste Manor, The Mystery of Iniquity, Many Waters Cannot Quench Love, The Horoscope, The Thug, Hell, The Man Who Saw.)

As E. Barrington

E. Barrington (1922), The Ladies
E. Barrington (1923), The Chaste Diana .
E. Barrington (1924), The Divine Lady .
E. Barrington (1924), The Gallants .
E. Barrington (1925), Glorious Apollo, Dodd, Mead & Co. .
E. Barrington (1926), The Exquisite Perdita .
E. Barrington (1927), The Thunderer. A Romance of Napoleon and Josephine, Dodd, Mead & Co. .
E. Barrington (1927), The House of Fulfillment. The Romance of a Soul, London: T. Fisher Unwin .
E. Barrington (1928), The Empress of Hearts .
E. Barrington (1928), Captain Java .
E. Barrington(?)[citation needed] (1929), The Laughing Queen. A Romance of Cleopatra., Dodd, Mead & Co. .

As L. Moresby

L. Moresby (1926), The Glory of Egypt, George H. Doran Co. .
L. Moresby (1930), Duel of the Queens .
L. Moresby (1931), The Irish Beauties .
L. Moresby (1931), The Joyous Story of Astrid .
L. Moresby (1932), Anne Boleyn .
L. Moresby (1932), The Great Romantic .

[Alan Twigg / BCBW 2010] "Religion" "1900-1950" "Fiction" "Women" "Classic"