Caroline Elizabeth Sarah Norton was born in London, England, on March 22, 1808. Her grandfather, Richard Brinsley Sheridan, was a distinguished dramatist, and her mother was a novelist. She attended boarding school in Surrey, and at age nineteen, she married George Chapple Norton, a barrister.
Unhappy in her marriage and in need of money, Norton began writing and publishing poetry. Her first book, The Sorrows of Rosalie: A Tale with Other Poems (John Ebors and Co., 1829), was published in 1829. This was followed by several other poetry collections, including The Lady of la Garaye (Macmillan, 1866), The Dream, and Other Poems (Henry Colburn, 1840), and A Voice From the Factories (John Murray, 1836). She also served as an editor of the magazine La Belle Assemblée.
While Norton is known for her poetry, she is also remembered for her involvement in a political scandal and her subsequent political influence. Accused by her husband of an adulterous affair with the Prime Minister Lord Melbourne, she fell in social status and lost custody of her children. As a result, she became involved in women’s rights and helped influence the 1839 Infant Custody Bill and the Marriage and Divorce Act of 1857.
George Norton died in 1875, and Caroline went on to marry Sir William Stirling-Maxwell. She died on June 15, 1877.