Sarah was born into a literary family where he grandfather was a famous playwright and her
mother a novelist, but upon the death of her father when she was nine years old, the family
was plunged into poverty. Thanks to a friendship with the Duke of York and Albany, however,
they were granted residence at Hampton Court Palace.
At age nineteen, she married George Chapple Norton an unsuccessful barrister who treated her
badly and appropriated all her earnings from her early writing. She had borne three sons but
the youngest died from a riding accident and the remaining sons suffered from poor health
and predeceased her. She left Norton in 1836 but he exercised his right to her earnings,
thereby leaving her impoverished. He also took custody of the children who then saw their
mother only under supervision. Norton accused her of adultery with the Prime Minister,
Lord Melbourne, but the case was peremptorily dismissed in court.
Sarah wrote several novels and poetry collections to great acclaim but she is also known as
a noted campaigner for women's rights being influential in promoting several Acts of
Parliament that granted rights of access to the children of a marriage, rights to divorce
for women and the right of married women to property, but her campaigning zeal declined
Norton died in 1875 and Sarah married Sir William Stirling Maxwell in 1877 but she died
only three months later.