Ouida (1839–1908), although a tireless self-creator, and consummate performer of her identity as an artist, had the least comfortable relationship with the literary establishment with which she worked of the three authors we are concerned with. Expatriated, she may have found it easier than most to sustain an image, both publicly and privately, which was under constant assault in the literary press. By adopting a specifically Romantic identity as an artist, which she claimed nullified her femininity, she sidestepped a good many of the issues surrounding the woman's popular novel – she was neither writing what was merely “popular” nor was she, in her writing, feminine, she would argue. She was, of course, marketed precisely in the manner she repudiated, but as an artist who had nothing to do with commerce, it was perhaps convenient for her not to be aware of that.
Ouida produced over thirty novels, many volumes of short stories, essays, drama, and other occasional work. In the 1870s, at the peak of her popularity, Ouida wrote roughly a novel a year with some other work, and thus generated an income of approximately £5,000 per annum. She devoted her voice, especially in the later novels, to social causes. Her target was the abuse of power, of any sort, and she had an especially keen sense of the abuses of the power accorded by wealth; she also fetishized both that power and the commodities it can procure. Her books are as likely to feature male protagonists as females, yet, once again at the center of the text is always the body of the woman.