Amélie Rives Troubetzkoy

Amélie Rives Troubetzkoy

Amélie Rives in 1890
Born 1863
Richmond, Virginia
Died 1945
Nationality American
Occupation Novelist, poet, playwright
Spouse(s) John Armstrong Chanler
Pierre Troubetzkoy
Relatives William Cabell Rives (grandfather)
Robert E. Lee (godfather)

Amélie Louise Rives (1863–1945) was an American novelist, poet and playwright.


Early life

Amélie Louise Rives was born in 1863 in Richmond, Virginia to noted engineer Alfred L. Rives and the former Sadie MacMurdo. She was named after her aunt Amélie, a goddaughter of French Queen Marie-Amélie.[1] She was a goddaughter of Robert E. Lee and a granddaughter of the engineer and Senator William Cabell Rives, who had also been American ambassador to France.


Rives wrote at least twenty-four volumes of fiction, numerous uncollected poems, and Herod and Mariamne (1889), a verse drama. In 1888, she published the novel The Quick or the Dead?, her most famous and popular work, which sold 300,000 copies.[2] The work depicted the erotic passions of a newly widowed woman and earned Rives notoriety. Her 1914 novel, World's End was reputed to be "the best seller in New York City".[3]

Later she turned to theater and began writing plays for Broadway. Her play The Fear Market ran for 118 performances at the Booth Theatre in 1916.[4]

Personal life

Amélie Rives married John Armstrong Chanler, a great-great grandson of John Jacob Astor and the oldest of 10 orphaned siblings, born to John Winthrop Chanler and Margaret Astor Ward of the Astor family.[5] The Rives-Chanler marriage was scandalous, and unhappy. The couple spent seven years as husband and wife, but most of the time lived apart.[2] Rives flirted with George Curzon[5] and began using drugs.[2]

In 1896, just four months after their divorce, she married Prince Pierre Troubetzkoy, an artist and aristocrat[2] after Oscar Wilde introduced them in London. The couple resided at Castle Hill,[6] near Cismont, Virginia.

Amélie Rives was a close friend of novelist Julia Magruder, a frequent guest at Castle Hill,[7] as well as prominent New York novelist Louis Auchincloss, who included a charming chapter on her in his memoir, A Writer's Capital.


She died in 1945.


Troubetzkoy's papers reside at the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library at the University of Virginia.



  1. Louis Auchincloss: A Writer's Capital. New York, Houghton Mifflin, 1974
  2. 1 2 3 4 Prose, Francine (July 30, 2006). "Lifestyles of the Rich and Infamous". The Washington Post. p. BW15.
  3. "People who write". The Independent. Jul 6, 1914. Retrieved July 30, 2012.
  4. "A Voice of Their Own: Women Playwrights". University of Virginia Library. Retrieved 2010-01-09.
  5. 1 2 Maslin, Janet (July 3, 2006). "'Archie and Amélie': A Combustible Couple in a Torrid Descent Amid Opulence". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-08-10.
  6. National Park Service - Journey Through Hallowed Ground – Castle Hill
  7. Virginia Encyclopedia


External links

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