As the most widely read English novelist of her time, Marie Corelli outsold Arthur Conan Doyle, Rudyard Kipling and H.G. Wells. Her works were beloved by Queen Victoria, and she published 25 novels in 29 years. Although she wrote with the last name Corelli, she was born Mary Mackay and spoke no Italian, but often pretended to do so. An ardent preservationist, she donated funds to help restore and maintain the 17th century buildings that have come to define the town of Stratford-upon-Avon. She often flouted society's expectations and lived with a beloved female companion to whom she left her entire estate upon her death. Today her works are largely ignored by scholars, but they nonetheless continue to delight the scrupulous reader who finds them.