Rosina Doyle Wheeler
She was a fiery woman. His mother did not want the upper-class rich boy to marry the head-strong Irish daughter of a Women’s Rights activist. But, he did. E. Bulwer-Lytton’s mother cut him off from family funds from the large landholdings the Earle of Lytton collected from tenants and farmers and renters. So E. Bulwer-Lytton wrote novels and stories and articles and became popular and made enough money to live. But he and his wife, Rosina Doyle Wheeler, did not get along. Eventually they separated and she supported herself in part by writing novels. She wrote about 18 novels. E. Bulwer-Lytton was running for office to be elected to parliament on the Whig Party ticket and addressed a public meeting where his estranged wife got up out of the crowd to intervene with criticism of her husband and opposing his election. E. Bulwer-Lytton had powerful connections in government and had his wife arrested and put in an insane asylum.
Fortunately for Rosina Doyle Wheeler people outside the lock-up raised a public outcry against having a woman declared insane because she had strong personal and political opinions. She was released. This woman’s husband was a member of parliament and a diplomat at times and came into an Earlship with great wealth when his mother died. At one point he was offered the kingship of the country of Greece.
All Rosina Doyle Wheeler had was some writing skill, and a former husband who was an enemy who tried to have her locked up in an insane asylum. After E. Bulwer-Lytton died his son, who had been raised by his father after being taken away from his mother during the divorce, took his father’s side in the dispute between his parents and tried to manage the publicity after his father’s death in 1871.
But….interestingly, E. Bulwer-Lytton, who had been the number two novelist and publicly known writer just behind Dickens, began to fade from public attention. His story “The Last Days Of Pompeii” lived on, sort of, having ten different movies made with that title.
But often the works simply use the familiar title and create a new story. E. Bulwer-Lytton does live on with a half dozen phrases that he came up with and have lived on the tongues of hundreds of millions of people: Like – “the great unwashed”, “pursuit of the almighty dollar”, “the pen is mightier than the sword”, and “dweller on the threshold”.
Then came a sharp fall in his reputation, so that he is little read today. The sardonic 1982 Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest claimed to seek the “opening sentence of the worst of all possible novels”
I can only find one of her novels online
A Blighted Life is an 1880 book by Rosina Bulwer Lytton chronicling the events surrounding her incarceration in a Victorian madhouse by her husband Edward Bulwer-Lytton, 1st Baron Lytton and her subsequent release a few weeks later.