Laurence Hope (1865-1904) was born Adela Florence ‘Violet’ Cory in Stoke Bishop, Gloucestershire. At the age of sixteen she joined her family in India, where her father, a former army officer, was editor of the Sind Gazette in Karachi.
In 1889, she married Malcolm Hassels Nicolson, a 46-year-old colonel in the Bombay Army. After several years of nomadic army life, Nicolson’s promotion to general in 1895 resulted in a permanent posting to Mhow. It was here that Hope began to write the poems that would become known as the Indian Love Lyrics.
First published in 1901, The Garden of Kama and Other Love Lyrics from India was an immediate success, gaining many admirers (including Thomas Hardy) and spawning even more imitators. Several of the Lyrics were set to music by the composer Amy Woodforde-Finden, which increased their popularity still further.
A second volume, Stars of the Desert, which included some poems inspired by a trip to North Africa, was completed and published in 1903.
The following year, General Nicolson died during a prostate operation. Two months later, at the age of 39, Hope took her own life by poison.
A third volume of verse, Indian Love (1905), was collected and published posthumously.
Hope’s sister, Vivian Cory (1868-1952), was the novelist ‘Victoria Cross’.