Caroline Meysey-Wigley was born on June 24th 1801 in Brompton Grove, London, the daughter of Edmund Meysey-Wigley, Esq., of Shakenhurst, Worcestershire, M.P. for Worcester, and his wife, Anna Maria Meysey.
A severe illness contracted when she was three left her with several after-effects chief amongst them was lameness.
During her lifetime she became a respected and well-regarded poet and author. All of her works were published anonymously, using the pen name, "V".
In 1840, her ‘IX Poems’ appeared in a small duodecimo, which Hartley Coleridge reviewed in the September edition of the Quarterly Review:—
"We suppose V stands for Victoria, and really she queens it among our fair friends. Perhaps V will think it a questionable compliment, if we say, like the late Baron Graham to Lady —, in the Assize Court at Exeter, 'We beg your ladyship's pardon, but we took you for a man.' Indeed, these few pages are distinguished by a sad Lucretian tone, such as very seldom comes from a woman's lyre. But V is a woman, and no ordinary woman certainly; though, whether spinster, wife, or widow, we have not been informed. The stanzas printed by us are, in our judgment, worthy of any one of our greatest poets in his happiest moments."
It was very fine praise indeed and was only one of many.
Later that year on November 10th, she married the Reverend Archer Clive. The union would produce a son (1842) and a daughter (1843).
Caroline continued to write and the following year, 1841, published a second edition of ‘IX Poems’ which was followed by ‘I Watched the Heavens’ (1842); ‘The Queen's Ball’ (1847); ‘Valley of the Rea’ (1851); and ‘The Morlas’ (1853). She now also began to add novels to her publications beginning with one from the popular sensational genre: ‘Paul Ferroll: A Tale’ (1855). It was hugely successful.
In literary terms, aside from her poems, her reputation is most burnished by ‘Paul Ferroll’ and its sequel, ‘Why Paul Ferroll Killed his Wife’. The first is generally accepted to be the most superior of all her works and passed into several editions and translations. It was only with the fourth edition that the concluding chapter, which brought the story down to the death of Paul Ferroll, was added. ‘V’ was now a respected and popular novelist to go with her glowing reputation as a poet.
‘Paul Ferroll’ is considered the precursor of the genre ‘sensational novel’ or of what may be called the novel mystery. Caroline was included in the forefront of the sensational novelists of the 19th-century, anticipating the works of Wilkie Collins, Charles Reade, Miss Braddon, and many others, writing of human nature as defined by its energies, neither diagnosing it like a physician, nor analysing it like a priest.
Caroline’s health was always a delicate issue and for many years prior to her death she was a confirmed invalid.
Caroline Clive died when her dress caught fire whilst she was seated in her boudoir and among her papers on July 13th 1873, at Whitfield, Herefordshire.