Marie Clothilde Balfour - Biography

Marie Clothilde Balfour was born in Edinburgh in 1862, the only child of James Melville Balfour and Christina (nee Simson). In 1863 the family travelled to New Zealand where her father, as a Civil Engineer, had been appointed firstly Provincial Marine Engineer to Otago and then Marine Engineer to the Colony. In December 1869 her father was drowned at Timaru and his widow with Marie returned to Edinburgh, where for a time they appeared to have stayed with Marie's cousin Robert Louis Stevenson (12 years her senior), and his parents.
In November 1871 Marie's mother married again, to Albert Henry Nicholson, a former sheep farmer who had also returned from spending time in New Zealand.
In 1885 Marie married her cousin James Craig Balfour, a doctor who was seven years older than her, in Edinburgh. Between 1887 and 1889 James and Marie lived at the Vicarage in Redbourne, in the Carrs region of Lincolnshire. It was here that Marie collected the 'Legends' which she submitted for publication in Folk-Lore in 1891.
By this time the couple had moved to Northumberland and Marie continued collecting folklore but this time from published sources for the Folklore Society. The Northumberland edition of the County Folklore Series, which comprised “the painstaking collection made…by Mrs M C Balfour” was published in 1904. Alongside this, she also pursued her interest in folk stories and gathered a number of tales from Northumberland which were included or referred to by Joseph Jacobs in his More English Fairytales. The notes to the collection record that the stories were collected by Marie whilst in Bamborough, North Sunderland and S Northumberland. She also submitted two stories from her old Scottish nurse, who was in New Zealand.
Marie's first novel White Sand, set in France, Morocco and London, was published in 1895. At about this time she moved to France where her second novel Maris Stella (1896) was set. She also submitted a few short stories to Macmillan's Magazine and other publications and finished The Fall of the Sparrow which was partially set in the Lincolnshire Carrs, before the birth of her daughter Marie Margaret.
The family (James, Marie and the baby) returned to Scotland where she edited the letters from Stevenson's mother to her sister (both her aunts) and wrote an essay to be included as an appendix in Omoo by Herman Melville. Her writing career continued after the death of her husband in 1907. Shortly after this she moved to London and then Bath and continued writing short plays and stories. Of the latter, 11 stories were published in New Blackfriars Journal between 1929 and 1931. She died in September 1931.