Sunday, January 26, 2014

The Death of Julia Margaret Cameron (nee Pattle) (11 June 1815-26 January 1879)

Julia Margaret Cameron in 1870, photographed by her son Henry Herschel Hay Cameron

Julia Margaret Cameron was one of the most fascinating and strong willed women to live during the nineteenth-century. She turned her daughter's gift of a camera into not only a hobby turned career but she would leave a legacy that few of us would understand or foresee.

Charles Hay Cameron and his wife Julia Margaret were in Kalutara (Ceylon) by the end of 1878 leaving Freshwater on the Isle of Wight far behind. They were staying at their son Henry's bungalow Glencairn, in the mountains. Here, Julia Margaret fell ill with her old bronchial complaint. She was sick for ten days and died on January 26th, 1879.

 A bungalow on Dimbula plantation belonging to The Cameron's in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) @Images of Ceylon

Victoria Olson explains in her biography, 'From Life Julia Margaret Cameron and Victorian Photography', "It has been told and retold that on her deathbed Cameron looked out of her window at the evening sky and uttered her last word: "Beautiful." The source for this story could only have been one of her sons, perhaps henry in a letter home, but the original reference hasn't surfaced. It is only too fitting a conclusion to a life spent, by her own claim, in the pursuit of beauty. Indeed, it was a novelist who made the most of this most theatrical of deathbed scenes: Virginia Woolf resuscitated the story in her 1926 essay." 

At Julia Margaret's funeral, two white bullocks pulled the body in a cart along mountain roads as far as they could and then it was carried by natives from the Rathoongodde estate to the burial grounds at St. Mary's Church in Bogawantalawa. This church had been consecrated in 1874 and the Camerons had helped commission and pay for its three stained-glass windows. Now they are buried there beside each other, in fulfillment of Charles Hay's wish to remain on his beloved island for ever.

Lady Emily Tennyson received the news of Julia Margaret's death with great sorrow. She wrote to her sister, "We are not likely to find one to take her place so loving and strong in her woman's way and so child-like in her faith."  Emily even wrote to the Cameron's sons in Ceylon, "Our hearts ache to think of the void in his (Charles Hay's) and yours. God alone can make it bearable."   

Charles Hay Cameron, Esq., in His Garden at Freshwater, Julia Margaret Cameron (British (born India), Calcutta 1815–1879 Kalutara, Ceylon. 1865–67, Albumen silver print from glass negative, @The Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC. (I've had the joy of casting my eyes upon this glorious photograph myself)! 


Julia Margaret's husband, Charles Hay Cameron outlived his wife after all, but not for long. He died on May 8th, 1880, while his sons read to him from Homer. "I am happier than Pram for I have all my sons around me." He supposedly said. Kitty Cameron, wife of their son Hardinge commented on what a happy occassion Charles Hay's funeral was with sun shining and birds singing. Their sons Eugene died in a fire in 1885 on board a ship crossing the Atlantic. Ewen stayed in Ceylon, where he died in 1889. Hardinge rose as far as he could in the ceylonese civil service and retired in 1904 to return to England and complete his long-interrupted Oxford degree. He married twice but had no children. Charlie Hay, his father's namesake, went back to England as soon as his father died but he died while traveling to Germany in 1891. Henry Hay Cameron took up photography as well, even having his own studio on Oxford Street in England. He even took photographs of his parents friends Ellen Terry and G.F. Watts to name a few! Both Hardinge and Henry Hay Cameron died in 1911.
Three Cameron sons: Left to Right: Hardinge Hay Cameron; Ewen Wrottesley Hay Cameron;(Ewen's wife Annie Cameron (nee Chinery) and Eugene Hay Cameron, albumen print on cabinet mount, 1868-1870, @NPG. 

Hardinge Hay Cameron by unknown photographer, Vintage print 1900-1911 @NPG

Dimbula Plantation in Ceylon 
Another angle of Dimbula Plantation in Ceylon

Here are some of the obituaries of Julia Margaret Cameron from various sources around the world: 

Obituary for Julia Margaret Cameron. The Victoria magazine. Conducted by Emily Faithfull., vol. XXXII, November - April 1879, p.585-586.
MRS. CAMERON.—Julia Margaret Cameron, as she loved to subscribe herself in fine bold characters, was in many respects a remarkable woman. A few may still remember her as one of the three Miss Patties, whose varied gifts won for them in Calcutta society the names of- "Wit, Beauty, and Fashion." There she met and married Mr. Charles Hay Cameron, then legal member of Council, who still survives as the last of Bentham's personal disciples. But to most she will be better known as the hospitable occupant of a sea-side house at Freshwater, in the Isle of Wight, whither visitors were attracted by her own talents no less than by the reputation of her venerable husband. During this period of her life she first won publicity, about fifteen years ago, by her bold innovations in the art of photography. It was not only by the intrinsic merit of her pictures, but also by the interest associated with their subjects, that she succeeded in at once taking both the cultivated and the popular tastes. The heads of her neighbours, the Poet Laureate and Sir Henry Taylor, were among the first of her successes. After these came portraits of Browning, Carlyle, Darwin, Sir W. Herschel, and many other distinguished men whose intellectual features lent themselves readily to her peculiar process of photography. Having established her reputation in portraiture, she followed it up with imaginative representation either of individual personages in history and literature, or of easily recognised scenes. Colnaghi's gallery was the regular place of exhibition for her pictures season after season, though they also became familiar in many a shop window of the London streets. In our opinion, among the most effective of all was a fancifully-draped head of a young lady, a relation of her own, to which she gave the appropriate, title of Beatrice Cenci. It must be admitted that her illustrations to, the cabinet edition of Tennyson, published by Henry S. King. & Co., in 1875, do not rank among her happiest works. She did not claim for herself any original discovery in photographic processed. We believe that her only secret was to place her sitter far out of-focus; and to subject the plate to an unusually long exposure. With characteristic energy she worked at all the disagreeable details of chemical manipulation with her own hands, and gradually perfected herself with infinite assiduity. In looking at a series of her pictures it is instructive to observe how her improvement in artistic design kept pace with advance in technical skill. Her first efforts were on a small scale, scarcely larger than the cabinet size now in vogue; and they aimed at little more than faithful portraiture after the style common to all amateurs. Many of them also have sadly altered in colour at the present day. Her latest photographs, such as that of Beatrice Cenci, were almost as large as life. Expression of feature and arrangement of drapery were studied with as much care as by a professional painter in oils. The process of printing was performed with such thorough knowledge and watchfulness that, though these, too, were taken many years ago, no spots and no indications of fading are visible. When Mrs. Cameron, in company with her husband, resolved to follow her dearly-loved sons to Ceylon, her occupation of photographer was abandoned. But soon she sent for her cameras and chemicals, and again set to work with enthusiasm under a less clouded sky. Her death, we believe, happened suddenly, after but a brief illness. She is regretted by an exceptionally large circle of friends, to whom she was endeared by a rare warmth of heart, expansiveness of sympathy, and old-fashioned directness of expression. Few of them but possess some memorial of her in the products of her art, which she was wont to distribute with lavish generosity.—The Academy.

'…a terrifying elderly woman, short and squat, with none of the Pattle grace and beauty about her, though more than her share of their passionate energy and wilfulness. Dressed in dark clothes, stained with chemicals from her photography (and smelling of them too), with a plump, eager face and piercing eyes and a voice husky, and a little harsh, yet in some way compelling, and even charming…'
Laura Gurney Troubridge, Julia Margaret Cameron’s niece and frequent photographic subject.
(Laura Gurney Troubridge was Julia Margaret Cameron’s grandniece.  Obituary quote from Victoria & Albert Museum, London, England,UK)

From India
 Julia Margaret Cameron was born in Calcutta in 1815. Her father, James Pattle, was an official with the East India Company and her mother, Adelaine de l’Etang, was of French aristocratic descent. Julia was the fourth of seven sisters and received much of her education in France and England before returning to Calcutta in 1834. In 1836-7 she travelled to Cape Town where she met the notable scientist and astronomer Sir John Herschel. Herschel was to become a life-long friend and supporter of her work. He was probably the first to introduce her to photographic processes and is the subject of some of her best known portraits. In 1837 she met Charles Hay Cameron, whom she married in Calcutta in 1838. He was an important figure in law reform and education in India, and twenty years her senior. For the next ten years the Camerons lived in India and were highly regarded and active in colonial politics and society. Mrs Cameron was kept busy as hostess, manager of the household and as a mother.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Happy Birthday Edith Wharton (24 January 1862-11 August 1937)

 Edith Newbold Jones (Edith Wharton) seated in a chair @Yale University Library

 Edith Wharton's Father, George Frederic Jones @Yale University Library

Edith Newbold Jones was born on this day in 1862 in New York City to George Frederic Jones and Lucretia Stevens Rhinelander. The Jones Family were related to a very prestigious family of the day, The Rensselear Family as they liked to joke about it all the time. Edith grew up with her two brothers Frederic Rhinelander and Henry Edward. She often traveled with the Rhinelander’s niece Betrix Farrand to parts of Maine on the coast of New England as well as with friend and novelist Henry James throughout Europe. 

Edith Wharton's Husband Edward Robbins Wharton (Teddy) with their three dogs Jules, Miza and Mimi @Yale University Library

She married Edward Robbins Wharton called ‘Teddy’ when she was 23 years old and he was 35 years old. His family was well off from Philadelphia and they shared a love of travel. They lived at Edith’s estate in Massachusetts called, ‘The Mount’ and she helped him battle his bouts of depression between the years  1880-1902. Sadly, in 1908 his condition worsened becoming a more serious disorder and he was said to have been ‘incurable.’ Edith divorced him in 1913. That same year she had an affair with journalist Morton Fullerton of The Times. After her divorce, she moved permanently to France and her home, ‘The Mount’ is preserved today as a museum. 

During the First World War she wrote articles Fighting France: From Dunkerque to Belfort and worked tirelessly for charities for refugees when in 1916 she received a Chevalier of the Legion of Honour  award in recognition of her tireless commitment to the displaced. 

 Edith Wharton's Pulitzer Prize @Yale University Library

She finished The Age of Innocence between Paris and Provence, France, in 1920 and received the Pulitzer Prize for literature in 1921. She lived in Provence in 1927 purchasing a villa, Castel Sainte-Claire dating back to the 17th century. She received an honorary doctorate degree from Yale University in 1923. She spoke fluent French as well as several other languages. Many of her books were published in both English and French.  She wrote her autobiography A Backward Glance published in 1934 leaving out personal family details about her life i.e. her marriage to Teddy and her affair with Morton Fullerton as well as her very difficult relationship with her mother Lucretia Jones. Edith Wharton died of a stroke in 1937 at the home Le Pavillion Colombe which today is called rue Edith Wharton. She is buried in the American cemetery in Versailles , France. 

Edith Wharton wrote and left us with 10 works of Non-fiction, 23 novels, three works of poetry and a short story collection.

 Edith Wharton at home in her villa, Castel Sainte-Claire. @Yale University Library

To anyone who would like to see the documentation and photographs of Edith Wharton, Yale University Library

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Happy Birthday Edgar Allan Poe: Gothic Dreamer (January 19, 1809 – October 7, 1849)

On this day in 1809 in Boston, Massachusetts a baby boy named Edgar was born to David Poe Jr. and Elizabeth Arnold Hopkins both actors themselves. Weaving a thread of sickness, death, and abandonment throughout Edgar's life a happy childhood was not to be. You see, his father abandoned his family in 1810 a year after he was born and if that were not enough his mother died on December 8, 1811 probably of Tuberculosis. Happiness and contentment would not last very long in Edgar's life setting up a lifetime of experiences to draw upon when writing his tales of Gothic and Horror. For instance when you read such classics as, 'The Tell Tale Heart', 'The Pit and the Pendulum', 'The Murders in the Rue Morgue', or read his achingly sad and mournfully yearning poems, 'Annabel Lee' 'Eulalie','Alone', 'A Dream Within A Dream','Bridal Ballad',  its all there; Poe's life laid out before you in his plots and characters!

Edgar Allan Poe's mother- Elizabeth Arnold Hopkins, performing on stage behind the footlights. Undated by  Ross, William Charles, Sir, 1794-1860 
@Harry Ransom Center The University of Texas at Austin, From the William H. Koester Collection.

 To My Mother by Edgar Allan Poe

    Because I feel that, in the Heavens above,
      The angels, whispering to one another,
    Can find, among their burning terms of love,
      None so devotional as that of "Mother,"
    Therefore by that dear name I long have called you-
      You who are more than mother unto me,
    And fill my heart of hearts, where Death installed you
      In setting my Virginia's spirit free.
    My mother- my own mother, who died early,
      Was but the mother of myself; but you
    Are mother to the one I loved so dearly,
      And thus are dearer than the mother I knew
    By that infinity with which my wife
      Was dearer to my soul than its soul-life.

 Portrait of Edgar Allan Poe Print (etching). Swirling background of portrait includes The Raven, Annabel Lee, and the winged demon from Poe's works. Undated by   Learned, Arthur Garfield, 1872-1959   From the William H. Koester Collection. @Harry Ransom Center The University of Texas at Austin. 

In my research, I have come across the handwritten copy of a poem dedicated to Edgar Allan Poe written by John Erskine (October 5, 1879 – June 2, 1951). He was a composer, author, educator from New York City. I also found the typed up version in Collected Poems 1907-1922 by John Erskine. I wanted to share both here with you, so don't worry if you cannot read the handwriting! 

Friday, January 17, 2014

New Discoveries: Anne Weld (Nee Sellwood) 1814-1894

I am always on the search for photographs of anything or anyone Freshwater Circle related. Today, I stumbled upon the online archives at Henry Ransom Center The University of Texas at Austin. They house five Lewis Carroll photograph albums. I recommend everyone take a look inside these treasure chests...

The handwriting reads:  Anna Weld and Agnes Grace Weld (Anne Weld was the mother of Agnes Weld. Her maiden name was Sellwood and she was the sister of Emily Tennyson (nee Sellwood) Lady Tennyson, wife of Alfred Lord Tennyson. 

This is a photograph not taken by Lewis Carrol but by W. Jeffrey which was one of Alfred Tennyson's favorite photographers according to his son Hallam and wife Emily Tennyson!  The address where this photograph was taken is:  114 Great Russell Street, Flormsbury or is that Bloomsbury(? Sorry if I got that wrong), London. Dated circa 1857.

If you want more information on Ages Weld's life, please read my article, Agnes Weld

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Tennyson's Poems Illustrated is mine all mine!

There has been one illustrated version of The Poetical Works of Alfred Tennyson that I've wanted for quite some time now. It is available on ebay for under fifty dollars even though several versions were published between 1882-5. So, I don't know if it falls under the 'rare book' category but it is nineteenth-century, so I'm putting it in that category!

Thank you to my friend Gwendolyn for letting me know that in my neighborhood a second hand book store had a hardcover version of Tennyon's Poems Illustrated. Needless to say, I ran over there as soon as I could and in the window stood proudly the 1882 U.S. edition by G.W. Borland and Co.  Some of the illustrations of Tennyson poems include:  Lady of Shalott illustrated by William Holman, Sir Galahad and The Palace of Art illustrated by Dante Gabriel Rossetti and numerous illustrations of Sir John Everett Millais but my very favorite is for the poem Locksley Hall.
I never imagined I would own this edition and my rare book collection is off to a very good start!

The Palace of Art illustration by Dante Gabriel Rossetti 1857

The Lady of Shalott illustrated by William Holman-Hunt 1857

Sir Galahad illustrated by Dante Gabriel Rossetti 1857

Locksley Hall by Sir John Everett Millais 1857

The Millers Daughter beautifully illustrated though I don't know by whom! 

just me doing some light reading! 

Friday, January 10, 2014

Jack and the Beanstalk by Hallam Tennyson, 2nd Baron Tennyson, (1852-1928)

I am passionate about The Tennyson Family, researching art, painting, and literature of the nineteenth century mainly. That being said, I just learned something new about Alfred Tennyson's eldest son, Hallam Tennyson! He published a children's book in 1886 during his father's lifetime! I didn't know that until just now. Obviously, I knew and have read his most popular work, the two-volume Alfred Lord Tennyson: A Memoir by His Son (London, 1897) but Jack and the Beanstalk was a wonderful surprise to find!


Author, Ann Thwaite in her biography, ‘Emily Tennyson: The Poet’s Wife’ explains how Jack and the Beanstalk came to be, “In these difficult months after Lionel’s death, Emily had been comforted and cheered by Lionel’s boys, who spent much of their time with their grandmother. She read to them Hallam’s version of Jack and the Beanstalk in English hexameters which he had dedicated to his nephews. It was supposed to be a sumptuous picture book, in full colour illustrated by Randolph Caldecott, but had appeared with only some preliminary sketches, for Caldecott had died that winter, aged thirty-nine, just two months before Lionel. “

To read an interesting biography on Hallam Tennyson, Australian Dictionary of Biography

To read Jack and the Beanstalk yourself online, archive 

To read my article about Hallam Tennyson and his life as Baron in Australia, Harold Courtenay Tennyson

Thursday, January 9, 2014

The Poems of Dante Gabriel Rossetti: A Rare Edition!

I am adding to my rare book collection: authors and poets of the nineteenth century! You must begin with Lord Tennyson and next was a Pre-Raphaelite painter known as Dante Gabriel Rossetti.  Last week, I came across a two volume U.S. edition for sale at a prominent book store for a cheaper price than I paid for my Tennyson single edition of The May Queen! It arrived earlier today in beautiful condition, no torn pages, no foxing to pages. It was double rubber banded and bubble wrapped! Thank you very much. They are now on my shelf next to Tennyson. Though, Rossetti and Tennyson did not get along very well in life, let's hope they are in the after life and upon my shelf!

The Poetical Works of Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Volumes I and II, Little Brown & Company, Boston,  1889 Edition by The Robert Brothers

Frontpiece, Volume I with onion skin paper covering right page. Photograph of Dante Gabriel Rossetti image by George P. Landow

This is the right side page of Volume I next to Rossetti Photograph. 

Inside dedication to Rosseitti's mother Frances Mary Lavinia Rossetti and his brother William Michael Rossetti (W.M.R.)

 The Blessed Damozel

 The Day Dream


 Prosperina in Italian as well

PAINTINGS AND POETRY by Dante Gabriel Rossetti

 The blessed damozel leaned out
       From the gold bar of Heaven;
Her eyes were deeper than the depth
       Of waters stilled at even;
She had three lilies in her hand,
 And the stars in her hair were seven. 
Her robe, ungirt from clasp to hem,
       No wrought flowers did adorn,
But a white rose of Mary's gift,
       For service meetly worn;
Her hair that lay along her back
       Was yellow like ripe corn. 
Herseemed she scarce had been a day 
       One of God's choristers;

Afar away the light that brings cold cheer 
Unto this wall, - one instant and no more
Admitted at my distant palace-door
Afar the flowers of Enna from this drear
Dire fruit, which, tasted once, must thrall me here.
Afar those skies from this Tartarean grey
That chills me: and afar how far away,
The nights that shall become the days that were.

Afar from mine own self I seem, and wing
Strange ways in thought, and listen for a sign:
And still some heart unto some soul doth pine,
O, Whose sounds mine inner sense in fain to bring,
Continually together murmuring) —
'Woe me for thee, unhappy Proserpine'.
Prosperina— D. G. Rossetti

Prosperina painted by Dante Gabriel Rossetti modeled by Jane Morris


THE thronged boughs of the shadowy sycamore
Still bear young leaflets half the summer through;
From when the robin 'gainst the unhidden blue
Perched dark, till now, deep in the leafy core,
The embowered throstle's urgent wood-notes soar
Through summer silence. Still the leaves come new;
Yet never rosy-sheathed as those which drew
Their spiral tongues from spring-buds heretofore.

Within the branching shade of Reverie
Dreams even may spring till autumn; yet none be
Like woman's budding day-dream spirit-fann'd.
Lo! tow'rd deep skies, not deeper than her look,
She dreams ; till now on her forgotten book
Drops the forgotten blossom from her hand. 

The Day Dream by Dante Gabriel Rossetti modeled by Jane Morris

Some eye candy...the gorgeous Aiden Turner reading The Kiss by Dante Gabriel Rossetti

My Review of Arresting Beauty by Heather Cooper

‘Beggars can’t be choosers. They really can’t.’ Based on true historical events,  Arresting Beauty  follows the extraordinary story of Mary ...