Leathley, Mary Elizabeth Southwell (née Dudley) (1818–99), writer, was born 18 June 1818 in Clonmel, Co. Tipperary, the daughter of George Dudley, a member of the Society of Friends. She published her first book when she was sixteen, and subsequently became a prolific writer of children's fiction and religious works. She produced over a hundred publications, of which the best known were Chickseed without chickweed (1861), which sold up to half a million copies, Children of scripture: a Sunday school book for youth (1866), The story of stories (1875), and Requiescent: a little book of anniversaries (1888). On 11 June 1847 she married William Henry Leathley, a barrister, and later that year converted to catholicism. Their only child, Dudley, was raised as a catholic. Leathley spent most of her life in England, residing variously in Midhurst, Ascot, Malvern, and finally Hastings, where she died 22 December 1899.
Boase; Academy, 30 Dec. 1899; Tablet, 6 Jan. 1900; Waterford Archaeological Society Journal, x (1937), 337; Rolf Loeber and Magda Loeber, A guide to Irish fiction 1650–1900 (2006)