Born Mary Mackay on May 1, 1855 in London, England, she was the illegitimate daughter of a well known Scottish poet and songwriter, Dr. Charles Mackay, and his servant, Elizabeth Mills. In 1866, the very young Mary Mackay was sent to a Paris, France convent to further her education. She would only return to England four years later in 1870.
Mary Mackay began her career as a musician, adopting the name Marie Corelli for her billing. She gave up music, turning to writing instead and in 1886 published her first novel, A Romance of Two Worlds. In her time, she was the most widely read author of fiction but came under harsh criticsm from many of the literary elite for her overly melodramatic and emotional writing. Despite this, her works were collected by members of England's Royal family, Winston and Randolph Churchill, amongst others.
Some of Marie Corelli's works: