Boinville, Cornelia

BORN 23 Feb 1795, London - DIED 25 Oct 1874, Paris
BIRTH NAME Chastel de Boinville, Cornelia Pauline Eugenia
GRAVE LOCATION Paris: Cimetière de Montmartre, 20 Avenue Rachel (division 19)

Cornelia Turner was not only a beauty but also a heiress. Her father Jean-Baptiste Chastel de Boinville (1756-1813) lost his life in the war against Russia as a prisoner of war. Her mother's name was Harriet Collins. Through William Godwin, an acquaintance of the Boinvilles, she met the lawyer Thomas Turner and they married in 1812.

In 1814 the poet Shelley stayed at the Boinville house with Cornelia and her mother Harriet, while his wife was with her father in Bath and her husband was in London. Cornelia taught Shelley Italian and they soon became on friendly terms and spent lots of time together, reading novels and having long talks. When Cornelia called at Godwin's place on 16 Jul 1814 he immediately wrote to Turner, who took her away to Devon and saw to it that she never met Shelley again.

In 1844 she left her husband and she moved to Paris, where she lived with her mother Harriet until the latter's death in 1847. In Paris she received people like Daniele Manin (1804-1857) and Vincenzo Gioberti (1801-1852). After she met the Italian author Giovanni Ruffini in 1846 they lived together until her death, without having a sexual relationship.

Towards the end of her life she befriended the young Violet Paget, better known as the author Vernon Lee. She helped her with her first literary efforts and she bequeathed her a watch that once belonged to Dr. Charles Burney and is now in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge. A few hours before her death in 1874 she wrote a last letter to Violet.

• Husband: Turner, Thomas (1812-)

Related persons
• was visited by Gioberti, Vincenzo
• was a friend of Lee, Vernon
• was a friend of Robecchi, Giulio
• was a friend of Shelley, Percy Bysshe


The grave of Cornelia Turner at the Montmartre Cimetière, Paris.
Picture by Androom (05 Nov 2017)


The grave of Cornelia Turner at the Montmartre Cimetière, Paris.
Picture by Androom (05 Nov 2017)


• St Clair, William, The Godwins and the Shelleys, Faber and Faber, London, 1990
• Tomalin, Claire, Shelley and his World, Thames and Hudson, London, 1980
Category:Cimetière de Montmartre - Division 19 - Wikimedia Commons

Boisserée, Sulpice

Published: 01 Jan 2006
Last update: 20 May 2023