Exhibition poster (349Kb)
Kinship and creativity are natural companions. As a child, Charlotte Brontë invented the imaginary world of Angria with her brother Branwell. William Wordsworth borrowed from his sister Dorothy's diary to create one of the most famous poems in English. Long before Charles Darwin studied the fertilisation of orchids, his grandfather Erasmus wrote poetry about the loves of plants. Dante Rossetti created lavish illustrations to accompany his sister Christina's volumes of poems.
Far from being a simple, solitary process, the creation of a poem or painting is inevitably collaborative. Keeping it in the Family. British and Irish Literary Generations, 1770-1930 considers the family as an essential, if often overlooked, element of creative production. It presents the stories of talented families working (and sometimes quarrelling) together in creating some of the most remarkable literary, artistic, and scientific works of the long 19th century. Many of the families, like the Wordsworths and the Brontës, are well known; others, like the Hunts and Porters, were famous in the past, but deserve a new look. In some cases, the family connections are surprising.
There is a familial element to the exhibition itself: many of the works on display come from collections gifted to the University of Otago by cousins Charles Brasch and Esmond de Beer. Furthermore, the Hocken Library and the Dunedin Public Library have generously lent rare material, allowing us to tell a more complex story of the role of kinship in creative production.
Keeping it in the Family: British and Irish Literary Generations 1770-1930 is made possible by the generous support of the Royal New Zealand Marsden Fund.
Keeping it in the Family: British & Irish Literary Generations - the Wordsworths
Dr Thomas McLean, a Senior Lecturer in the Department of English and Linguistics at the University of Otago, and one of the curators of the exhibition talks a little bit about one of the items on display. Read the transcript
A Treatise on the Blood, Inflammation, and Gun-shot Wounds
John Hunter (1728-1793) and his older brother William (1718-1783) revolutionised medical education by focusing on the necessity for first-hand experience with human cadavers. While William mixed with high society, John dealt with the 'resurrection men' who provided a steady supply of bodies for anatomy demonstrations. His experiences as a surgeon in the Seven Years' War (1756–63) provided the basis for his most important work, A Treatise on the Blood.
John Hunter, A Treatise on the Blood, Inflammation, and Gun-shot Wounds, London: Printed by John Richardson, 1794, Monro Collection M140.
Notes from Mr Hunter's Lectures on Surgery
John Hunter was not as celebrated an instructor as his older brother, William, but students nevertheless recorded his lectures with great care, as this journal of extensive notes attests.
Both brothers were great collectors: William's donations to Glasgow University formed the basis of their Hunterian Museum, while John's collections survive in London at the Royal College of Surgeons.
[Anon.], Notes from Mr Hunter's Lectures on Surgery, Unpublished, , Monro Collection A13.
When poet Anne Home married the surgeon John Hunter in 1771, many considered it an odd match: John was gruff and impatient, while Anne was admired for her sensitive lyrics. But it seems to have been a successful relationship. In later years 'Mrs John Hunter' collaborated with the composer Franz Joseph Haydn on a number of English songs. Many of the poems in her 1802 collection celebrated her son, a future soldier. She also introduced her niece, playwright Joanna Baillie, to London society.
Mrs John Hunter, Poems, London: Printed for T. Payne, 1802, de Beer Eb 1802 H.
A Series of Engravings, Accompanied with Explanations, which are Intended to Illustrate the Morbid Anatomy of some of the Most Important Parts of the Human Body; Divided into Ten Fasciculi
Born in Lanarkshire, physician Matthew Baillie (1761-1823) was a nephew of John and William Hunter. John was one of his teachers, and he inherited William's home and medical school in London. His patients included Lord Byron and Walter Scott, and he eventually became Physician in Ordinary to George III. Matthew is best known for his work on 'morbid anatomy', the study of diseased tissues and organs.
Matthew Baillie, A Series of Engravings, Accompanied with Explanations, which are Intended to Illustrate the Morbid Anatomy of some of the Most Important Parts of the Human Body; Divided into Ten Fasciculi, London: Printed by W Bulmer and Co., 1803, Medical Historical Collection QS 17 BB56.
A Series of Plays. Volume I
When the first volume of A Series of Plays appeared in 1798, it caused a stir. Who was the author of this striking work? Some thought it must be the leading writer of the day, Walter Scott. The author was revealed in the third edition as Joanna Baillie (1762-1851), a niece of John and William Hunter. While her uncles and brother Matthew explored human anatomy, Joanna explored the varieties of human passions.
Joanna Baillie, A Series of Plays. Volume I, London: Printed for T. Cadell Jun. and W. Davies, 1800, Private Collection.
A Series of Plays. Volume II
Joanna Baillie's dedication to her brother, Matthew, in the second volume of her Series of Plays, suggests their closeness and perhaps points to the influence of his medical studies on her own analyses of human nature.
Joanna Baillie, A Series of Plays. Volume II, London: Printed for T. Cadell Jun. and W. Davies, 1802, Private Collection.
The Botanic Garden; A Poem in Two Parts
Poet and botanist Erasmus Darwin (1731-1802) united his professional pursuits in the two works that comprise The Botanic Garden: 'The Loves of the Plants', a versification of Linnaean classifications, and 'Economy of Vegetation', a reflection on contemporary scientific theories. Darwin incorporated extensive scientific learning into his poetry and in the accompanying notes. His insights into natural history and evolutionary thought anticipated the theory of natural selection of his grandson, Charles Darwin.
[Erasmus Darwin], The Botanic Garden; A Poem in Two Parts, London: Printed for J. Johnson, 1791, de Beer Ec 1791 D, copy 2.
Emma Wedgwood Darwin
Naturalist Charles Darwin (1809-1882) was born into the influential Darwin-Wedgwood family. His paternal grandfather was poet Erasmus Darwin; his maternal grandfather was master potter Josiah Wedgwood (1730-1795). Members of the Wedgwood family were prominent abolitionists, and their renowned pottery business remained in the family for five generations. Somewhat surprisingly, given his own genetic research, Charles Darwin married his first cousin, Emma Wedgwood (1808-1896). Other notable members of the Darwin-Wedgwood family include eugenicist Francis Galton (1822-1911) and composer Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958).
George Richmond, Emma Wedgwood Darwin, Unpublished, 1840, Wikipedia.
Letter to Dr John Denny
Family connections were paramount for the Darwin-Wedgwood family. It is therefore no surprise that Charles Darwin, writing to English physician and horticulturalist Dr John Denny, uses terminology of family structures to discuss geranium breeding: 'With respect to transmittance of character, when both parents are of equally good constitution, I shd expect from what little I know that different rules wd hold in difft families'.
Charles Darwin, Letter to Dr John Denny, Unpublished, 9 July 1872, de Beer MS55.
The Power of Movement in Plants
Charles Darwin continued to develop his theory of natural selection first articulated in On the Origin of Species (1859). With his botanist son Francis (1848-1925), he co-authored The Power of Movement in Plants. In addition to his research on botanical genetics, Francis Darwin published Rustic Sounds and Other Studies in Literature and Natural History (1917), a series of essays that reflected the influences of his family.
Charles Darwin (assisted by Francis Darwin), The Power of Movement in Plants, London: John Murray, 1880, Special Collections QK771 D658.
Enquiry Concerning Political Justice, and its Influence on Morals and Happiness. Volume I
The Godwin-Wollstonecraft-Shelley family represents one of the most famous literary coteries of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. At the time of their marriage in 1797, William Godwin (1756-1836) and Mary Wollstonecraft (1759-1797) were well known as politically engaged writers. Godwin's Political Justice (1793) argues for the inevitable progression of humanity towards governance through reason, and this perspective strongly influenced the political views of his future son-in-law, the poet, Percy Bysshe Shelley.
William Godwin, Enquiry Concerning Political Justice, and its Influence on Morals and Happiness. Volume I, London: Printed for G. G. and J. Robinson, 1796, de Beer Eb 1796 G.
A Vindication of the Rights of Woman: With Strictures on Political and Moral Subjects. Volume I, third edition
Mary Wollstonecraft's A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792) is a founding text of modern feminism. In the decade leading up to this monumental work, Mary helped establish a school for girls and wrote the conduct book Thoughts on the Education of Daughters (1787), and the novel Mary: A Fiction (1788). In all of these works, she argued that women deserved rational educations and greater individual rights in order to be better wives and mothers. But her opportunity to put this philosophy into action was short lived. She died just days after giving birth to her second daughter, Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin.
Mary Wollstonecraft, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman: With Strictures on Political and Moral Subjects. Volume I, third edition, London: Printed for J. Johnson, 1796, de Beer Eb 1796 W.
The Cenci: A Tragedy in Five Acts. Second edition
Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822) married Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin (1797-1851) in 1816, and their writings carried on the political engagement of Mary's parents. Mary Shelley's most famous work, Frankenstein (1818), shows the influence of both her parents' thinking. Percy's The Cenci uses the lurid story of a sixteenth-century Italian family to address a central human dilemma: should a moral individual employ violence to overthrow tyranny?
Percy Bysshe Shelley, The Cenci: A Tragedy in Five Acts. Second edition, London: C. and J. Ollier, 1821, Special Collections PR5408 A1 1821.
Essays, Letters from Abroad, Translations and Fragments. Volume I
Following Percy Shelley's untimely death at age 29, his widow, Mary Shelley, actively curated her husband's literary legacy, editing this collection of his essays and correspondence.
Percy Bysshe Shelley. Edited by Mrs Shelley, Essays, Letters from Abroad, Translations and Fragments. Volume I, London: Edward Moxon, 1840, Special Collections PR5403 S534 1840.
Poet, essayist, and educationist, Anna Laetitia Barbauld (1743-1825), was a member of the eighteenth-century Bluestockings, a community of women writers and intellectuals. Barbauld shared an interest in science with her physician-brother, John, as demonstrated in her poem dedicated to Joseph Priestley, 'The Mouse's Petition'. This poem, written from the perspective of the mouse found in one of Dr Priestley's traps, presents a veiled plea for social justice in an oppressive society.
[Anna Barbauld], Poems, London: Printed for Joseph Johnson, 1773, de Beer Ec 1773 B.
Physician and poet John Aikin (1747-1822) keenly supported the authorial career of his older sister, Anna Laetitia Barbauld. 'By his persuasion and assistance,' wrote John's daughter Lucy Aikin, 'her Poems were selected, revised, and arranged for publication […] The result more than justified his confidence of her success'. In John's poem 'To Mrs Barbauld at Geneva', the speaker calls on nature to awaken the Muse within 'my sister and my friend' and to '[p]our thy soft influence through Laetitia's breast'.
John Aikin, Poems, London: Printed for J. Johnson, 1791, de Beer Eb 1791 A.
The Works of Anna Laetitia Barbauld. With a Memoir by Lucy Aikin. Volume I
Lucy Aikin (1781-1864) was a leading historian of the early nineteenth century. Her studies of Elizabeth, Charles I and James I were commercial and critical successes. She also wrote a memoir of her father, John Aikin, and edited the poetry and prose of her aunt, Anna Laetitia Barbauld. Following in the Bluestocking traditions of her aunt, Lucy advocated for women's education and civil rights, emphasising that the lives and roles of women were essential aspects of world history.
___, The Works of Anna Laetitia Barbauld. With a Memoir by Lucy Aikin. Volume I, London: Printed for Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, Brown, and Green, 1825, Special Collections PR4057 B7 A11 1825.
A General History of Music from the Earliest Ages to the Present Period. Volume II
Musicologist Charles Burney (1726-1814) worked closely with his daughter, Frances, to complete his many essays on music theory and history. Charles was motivated by literary and social success. He valued his reputation very highly, which seems to have influenced his relationship with Frances: he claimed to have read his daughter's first novel, Evelina (1778), only after it became successful, and even then he approached it 'with fear & trembling,' wondering whether 'she c[oul]d write a book worth reading'.
Charles Burney, A General History of Music from the Earliest Ages to the Present Period. Volume II , London: Printed for the Author and sold by J. Robson and G. Robinson, 1776, de Beer Ec 1776 B.
Evelina, or, The History of a Young Lady's Entrance into the World. Volume III
Frances Burney (1752-1840) is perhaps best remembered for developing the novel of manners, a genre which Jane Austen later made famous. Frances's wildly successful first novel, Evelina (1778), was written in secret. She told only her brother and sister about her plans to publish her own work. She disguised her handwriting to prevent printers from associating the work with the Burney family.
[Frances Burney], Evelina, or, The History of a Young Lady's Entrance into the World. Volume III, London: Printed for T. and W. Lowndes, 1784, de Beer Eb 1784 B.
Practical Education. Volume I
The Anglo-Irish writer, Richard Lovell Edgeworth (1744-1817), and his daughter Maria (1768-1849) staunchly advocated for children's literacy. Despite their sometimes disaffected relationship, the father and daughter collaborated on several educational and moralist projects. In his Memoirs (1820) Richard wrote, '[Maria] is my pupil, my literary partner, and my friend'. Richard influenced Maria's novel writing. As a teenager, she recorded her father's stories about an imagined Irish family, later reworking them into her novel Patronage (1814).
Maria and R. L. Edgeworth, Practical Education. Volume I, London: Printed for J. Johnson, 1801, Special Collections LB1025 E69 1801.
The Scottish Chiefs. A Romance
Jane Porter (1775-1850) and her sister Anna Maria (1778-1832) were among the most popular British novelists of the early nineteenth century. Jane's novel The Scottish Chiefs (1810), which offered a romantic retelling of the William Wallace narrative, predated Sir Walter Scott's Waverley novels. The work was especially popular in the United States, as evidenced here by an illustrated 1856 edition from New York.
Jane Porter, The Scottish Chiefs. A Romance, New York: D. Appleton and Co., 1856, Special Collections PR5189 P5 S25 1856.
The Scottish Chiefs
Jane Porter's work, The Scottish Chiefs (1810), was still popular in the United States long after it was first published, as shown here in this Classics Illustrated comic from 1950.
Jane Porter, The Scottish Chiefs, New York: 'Classics Illustrated', Strato Publications Ltd., with permission of Gilberton Co., New York, , Private Collection.
'The Chief of the Bashkirs' from Travelling Sketches in Russia and Sweden during the years 1805, 1806, 1807, 1808. Volume II, second edition
Jane's younger brother, Robert Ker Porter (1777-1842), studied at the Royal Academy under Benjamin West. He counted among his classmates J.M.W. Turner and Thomas Girtin. Robert was best known for his large-scale military panoramas (all now lost), but he also wrote several travelogues that featured engravings after his drawings. This image was created during his travels in Russia and, like Jane Porter's The Scottish Chiefs, highlights the family's fascination with military heroism.
Robert Ker Porter, 'The Chief of the Bashkirs' from Travelling Sketches in Russia and Sweden during the years 1805, 1806, 1807, 1808. Volume II, second edition, London: Printed for John Stockdale, 1813, Private Collection.
Sir Edward Seaward's Narrative of his Shipwreck, and Consequent Discovery of Certain Islands in the Caribbean Sea…
Sir Edward Seaward's Narrative was a surprise success in 1831. Jane Porter claimed that this Crusoe-style tale was based on an actual, eighteenth-century manuscript lent to her by a friend of the family. Early reviewers assumed that Jane was the actual author and praised her knowledge of the Caribbean. In fact, it was the work of her elder brother, the Bristol doctor William Ogilvie Porter (1774-1850), who had spent part of his youth working in the West Indies.
William Ogilvie Porter. Edited by Miss Jane Porter, Sir Edward Seaward's Narrative of his Shipwreck, and Consequent Discovery of Certain Islands in the Caribbean Sea… , London: Longman, Rees, Orme, Brown, and Green, 1831, Private Collection.
Select Pieces from the Poems of William Wordsworth
John Keats identified William Wordsworth's poetics as a key example of the 'egotistical sublime'. But Wordsworth's poetic style was shaped by family relationships. Orphaned at the age of thirteen, Wordsworth (1770-1850) included significant references in his poetry to his sister Dorothy (in 'Lines Composed a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey') and to his late brother John (in 'Elegiac Stanzas'). The magnitude of his debt to Dorothy (1771-1855) only became apparent in the late nineteenth century, when excerpts from her private writings were published. Dorothy's journal entry for 15 April 1802 offers a skilful and poetic description of the landscape, highlighted by a glorious field of daffodils by a lake. In his famous poem, 'I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud', Wordsworth transformed their shared experience into a solitary visitor's reflection on nature and the power of memory.
William Wordsworth, Select Pieces from the Poems of William Wordsworth, London: Bradbury and Evans, [1845?], Private Collection.
Journals of Dorothy Wordsworth. Volume I
The page entry in Dorothy Wordsworth's Journal that inspired her brother William's famous poem 'Daffodils'.
Edited by William Knight, Journals of Dorothy Wordsworth. Volume I, London: Macmillan and Co., 1904, Private Collection.
Poems by William Wordsworth: including Lyrical Ballads, and the Miscellaneous Pieces of the Author. Volume I
Here is a mystery. Otago holds three early volumes of William Wordsworth's poems that were previously owned by one Charlotte E. Wordsworth. This could be Charlotte Emmeline Wordsworth (1839-1922), the daughter of the poet's nephew Charles Wordsworth (1806-1892), Bishop of St Andrews in Scotland. Unfortunately, we have been unable to locate any document in Charlotte Wordsworth's hand to compare to the signature in these volumes. Charlotte Emmeline was an Anglican nun, and some quotes transcribed on a front page of Poems suggest an interest in Wordsworth's religious beliefs. Interestingly, several poems in the volume have been edited and marked up in pencil as if in preparation for a public reading. The handwriting bears a remarkable similarity to that of Charlotte's father, Bishop Charles Wordsworth.
William Wordsworth, Poems by William Wordsworth: including Lyrical Ballads, and the Miscellaneous Pieces of the Author. Volume I, London: Printed for Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown, 1815, de Beer Eb 1815 W.
The Brontë Sisters
The Brontës are surely Britain's most famous literary family. Originally published under the pseudonyms Acton, Ellis, and Currer Bell, the novels of sisters Anne (1820-1849), Emily (1818-1848) and Charlotte Brontë (1816-1855) remain cornerstones of British literature. The work of their brother Patrick Branwell Brontë (1817-1848) has never received as much attention, though he painted the most famous image of the three youngest Brontë daughters (his ghostly presence appears between Emily and Charlotte), and he shared with Charlotte the writing of stories about the imaginary kingdom of Angria. In 1840 he corresponded with Hartley Coleridge about poetry and translation, and he published a handful of poems and essays.
Patrick Branwell Brontë, The Brontë Sisters, Unpublished, c. 1834, Reproduction from Wikipedia; original held in National Portrait Gallery, London.
Extract from Angria Stories and a portrait silhouette
The Dunedin Public Library kindly lent Special Collections a very rare item: a page of writing in Branwell Brontë's hand. Never before published, this page provides the concluding lines to a story in which a group of rebels escape from Angrian soldiers, thanks to the clever thinking of the Falstaffian character, Joynes. The remainder of the story survives at the Brontë Parsonage Museum in Haworth, England. Drs Tom McLean (Otago) and Grace Moore (Melbourne) are preparing an article that explores the significance of the Dunedin manuscript.
Patrick Branwell Bronte, Extract from Angria Stories and a portrait silhouette, Unpublished, 15 December 1837, Heritage Collection, Dunedin Public Library.
In 1808, brothers John (1775-1848) and Leigh Hunt (1784-1859) created one of the most important weekly journals of the nineteenth century, The Examiner. Known for its sharp wit and radical commentary, the journal published early work from John Keats, Percy Shelley, and William Hazlitt. A critique of the Prince Regent in 1813 landed the Hunt brothers in prison for two years, but it also brought in new readers. This issue dates from 1831 – a few years after the Hunt brothers had sold their interests in the weekly to the journalist Albany Fonblanque – but it remained an important political paper well into the Victorian era: Thackeray and Dickens were later contributors.
Edited by Albany Fonblanque, The Examiner, ___, 30 October 1831, Hocken Collections.
Leigh Hunt was involved in a number of journals besides the Examiner. These included the Indicator (1819-1821), which first published one of the most famous poems of British Romanticism, John Keats's 'La Belle Dame Sans Merci'. Hunt perhaps proposed the pseudonym 'Caviare', a reference to Hamlet, Act II, scene II: ''twas / caviare to the general'. The pseudonym links Keats with Shakespeare and challenges reviewers who had dismissed Keats's previous work.
Edited by Leigh Hunt, The Indicator, London: Printed for Joseph Appleyard, 1820, Special Collections AP4 I45.
The Correspondence of Leigh Hunt. Volume I
Leigh Hunt remained a significant figure in the Victorian era. Despite financial challenges, he continued to publish poetry and essays, and he was immortalised as Skimpole in Charles Dickens's novel Bleak House (1853). Thornton Hunt (1810-1873), the eldest of Leigh and Marianne Hunt's seven children, prepared this posthumous collection of his father's letters. Best known today as editor of his father's collected works, Thornton was also a noted journalist, eventually serving as editor of the Daily Telegraph.
Edited by Thornton Hunt, The Correspondence of Leigh Hunt. Volume I, London: Smith, Elder and Co., 1862, Private Collection.
The Poetical Works of S. T. Coleridge, Including the Dramas of Wallenstein, Remorse, and Zapolya. Volume I
The children of Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834) served as inspirations for some of his best-known poetry, including 'Frost at Midnight': 'Dear Babe, that sleepest cradled by my side […] thou, my babe! Shalt wander like a breeze'. Coleridge's son Hartley alludes to this poem in his 'Dedicatory Sonnet' in his own Poems (1833). The two poems shown here, written shortly after Hartley's birth, present a more sombre view of fatherhood than that suggested in 'Frost at Midnight'.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge, The Poetical Works of S. T. Coleridge, Including the Dramas of Wallenstein, Remorse, and Zapolya. Volume I, London: William Pickering, 1829, de Beer Eb 1829 C.
Poems. Volume I
Hartley Coleridge (1796-1849) was Samuel Taylor Coleridge's eldest son. As was common in the early nineteenth century, Hartley was sent away from home to attend public school. He excelled academically, but around age 20 he began to show symptoms of the depression and alcoholism that characterised much of his later life. After he was expelled from college on charges of 'sottishness, a love of low company, and general inattention to college rules', Hartley began work as a writer. His poems and essays appeared in periodicals, including London Magazine and Blackwood's. His volume of Poems (1833) was well received by critics and readers alike.
Hartley Coleridge, Poems. Volume I, Leeds: F. E. Bingley, 1833, Special Collections PR4467 A1 1833.
Phantasmion, A Fairy Tale
The youngest of Samuel Taylor Coleridge's three children, Sara Coleridge (1802-1852) grew up surrounded by England's most famous poets, including her father, his close friend William Wordsworth, and her uncle, the poet-laureate Robert Southey. At age 27, she married her first cousin, Henry Nelson Coleridge (1798-1843). Sara published a small collection of poems and the long prose fairy tale Phantasmion (1837). She also edited her father's works for republication. Her edition of Coleridge's Biographia Literaria (1847) remains highly regarded by modern scholars.
Sara Coleridge, Phantasmion, A Fairy Tale, London: Henry S. KIng, 1874, Storage Bliss YH ColYp C.
Dio e l'Uomo. Volume I
The Anglo-Italian Rossetti family was close-knit and highly educated. The patriarch, poet and scholar Gabriele Rossetti (1783-1854) was born in Italy. He settled in London in 1824 after being exiled for his political views. In 1826, he married Italian émigré Frances Polidori (1800-1886), sister of Gothic novelist John Polidori (1795-1821). Rossetti taught Italian at King's College in London, and there he continued writing political poetry, including Dio e l'Uomo [God and Man], first published in 1833. His four children – Maria, Dante, William, and Christina – all carried on their familial legacy, becoming celebrated writers, poets, and painters.
Gabriele Rossetti, Dio e l'Uomo. Volume I, Roma: Edoardo Perina, 1892, Brasch PQ4731 R6 D5.
The Goblin Market and Other Poems
The youngest of the Rossetti family, Christina Rossetti (1830-1894) grew up surrounded by art and literature. She wrote prolifically throughout her life, publishing her first works at age 20 in the Germ, a magazine edited by her brother, the literary critic William Michael Rossetti (1829-1919).
Christina Rossetti, The Goblin Market and Other Poems, London: Macmillan and Co., 1865, Special Collections PR5237 G6 1865.
The Prince's Progress and Other Poems
Christina Rossetti dedicated Goblin Market and The Prince's Progress to her mother 'in all reverence and love.' Her brother Dante created the memorable illustrations for both books.
Christina Rossetti, The Prince's Progress and Other Poems, London: Macmillan and Co., 1866, Special Collections PR5237 P7 1866.
Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-1882) was a founding member of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, a group of artists who sought to recapture the aesthetics of Raphael and Michelangelo – as opposed to the 'sloshy' style of contemporary Royal Academy painters. In addition to his work as artist and illustrator, Dante was a successful and sometimes scandalous poet: the poem, 'Jenny', concerns a young man's visit to a prostitute. He dedicated his Poems to his brother and fellow Pre-Raphaelite, William Michael Rossetti.
Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Poems, London: F. S. Ellis, 1870, Brasch PR5244 P6 1870.
Culture and Anarchy
Matthew Arnold (1822-1888) followed in the educationist footsteps of his father, the Reverend Thomas Arnold (1795-1842), the historian and famed headmaster of Rugby School. Matthew worked as Inspector of Schools in England throughout his adult life while also writing poetry and literary criticism. Culture and Anarchy, written in response to the Reform Bill of 1867, presents his view of an idealised English society: a society defined not by social class but by its access to 'culture', 'the best which has been thought and said in the world'. Arnold believed such knowledge would turn 'a stream of fresh and free thought upon our stock notions and habits'.
Matthew Arnold, Culture and Anarchy, London: Smith, Elder, and Co., 1869, Central PR4022 C8.
Passages in a Wandering Life
Like his elder brother, Matthew, and father, Thomas, Thomas (Tom) Arnold (1823-1900) worked in education and as a writer. Despite his high marks at Oxford University, Tom grew restless with scholarly life and set sail for New Zealand in 1847, the same year that the first two British immigrant ships embarked for what would become Dunedin. After living for two years in New Zealand as a farmer and teacher, he moved to Tasmania where he worked as Inspector of Schools. In 1856, he returned to England with his young family, including his daughter, Mary Augusta Arnold Ward.
Thomas Arnold, Passages in a Wandering Life, London: Edward Arnold, 1900, Brasch PR4028 A6 1900.
Dunedin from Little Paisley
Watercolour by Edward Immyns Abbot of Dunedin in 1849, just after Tom Arnold visited the newly established settlement.
Edward Immyns Abbot, Dunedin from Little Paisley, Unpublished, 1849, Hocken Collection.
Letter to Mrs [Sarah?] Tooley
Mary Augusta Ward (1851-1920), daughter of the writer Thomas (Tom) Arnold, published many successful novels under the name 'Mrs Humphrey Ward'. She was also actively involved with educational causes, helping to establish Somerville College, one of the first women's colleges in Oxford. Ironically, her leadership in the Women's Anti-Suffrage Association in 1908 caused her to be disowned by this very institution. In this letter from Ward to a Mrs Tooley – most likely 'New Woman' advocate and journalist Sarah Tooley (1857-1946) – Ward avows her anti-suffrage views.
Mrs Humphrey Ward (Mary Augusta Ward), Letter to Mrs [Sarah?] Tooley, Unpublished, 31 July 1907, Heritage Collection, Dunedin Public Library.
Evidence as to Man's Place in Nature
Known as 'Darwin's Bulldog', biologist Thomas Henry Huxley (1825-1895) advocated for the acceptance of Darwin's theory of evolution. In 1860, Huxley debated with Bishop Samuel Wilberforce (son of famed abolitionist William Wilberforce) over man's descent from apes. Wilberforce asked Huxley in jest whether the apes were on his grandfather's or his grandmother's side of the family. Huxley replied that he would 'rather have a miserable ape for a grandfather' than a man 'possessed of great means of influence & yet who employs … that influence for the mere purpose of introducing ridicule into a grave scientific discussion'. Thomas Huxley's son, Leonard Huxley (1860-1933), married schoolmistress Julia Arnold (1862-1908), Tasmanian-born daughter of Tom Arnold and sister of Mary Augusta Ward.
Thomas Henry Huxley, Evidence as to Man's Place in Nature, London: Williams and Norgate, 1863, Storage Bliss HB H.
Aldous Huxley (1894-1963) inherited a keen interest in science and education from both his paternal and maternal grandfathers, Thomas Huxley and Tom Arnold. Although Huxley is now best remembered for his fictional works, such as his dystopian novel Brave New World (1932), he began his authorial career as a poet. Leda (1920) was the third major collection Huxley published by age 26. Critics often read this work as representing the height of Huxley's poetic talent and signaling his turn to fiction writing.
Aldous Huxley, Leda, Garden City, New York: Doubleday Doran, 1929, Special Collections PR6015 U9 L4 1929.
Geoffry Hamlyn in Australia
Henry Kingsley (1830-1876) was a popular Victorian novelist and younger brother of the better known Charles Kingsley (1819-1875), author of Westward Ho! and The Water-Babies. In the 1850s, Henry spent four years in Australia, working in the goldfields, but never made his fortune. The experience informed several of his novels, including the once-popular Recollections of Geoffry Hamlyn (1859). Here is an early 20th-century adaptation of the novel for young Australasian readers.
Henry Kingsley, Geoffry Hamlyn in Australia, Melbourne: Whitcombe & Tombs, , Hocken Interim 1.104823739.
Letter to Mr [Walter William] Skeat
George Kingsley (1826-1892) never attained the popularity of his novelist brothers Charles and Henry, but he was a respected physician and intrepid traveller. During his travels in North America in the 1870s, he met Buffalo Bill and attempted to join General Custer at Little Bighorn. He spent his later years in Cambridge, England. In this letter, probably written to the philologist Walter William Skeat, Kingsley expresses his excitement at seeing a kiwi and an echidna in Cambridge – though he mistakenly imagines them as antipodean cousins.
George Henry Kingsley, Letter to Mr [Walter William] Skeat, Unpublished, c. 1891, Private Collection.
Travels in West Africa
Mary Kingsley (1862-1900) was the eldest child of George and Mary Kingsley. She did not attend school, but she read deeply in her father's large library. When both of her parents died in 1892, she determined to travel to West Africa. She collected flora and fauna previously unknown in Europe, including three new species of fish that were named after her. While her solitary travels and strong opinions suggest that Kingsley was a kind of proto-feminist, she resisted labels like 'New Woman' and did not support women's suffrage.
Mary H. Kingsley, Travels in West Africa, London: Macmillan and Co., 1897, Special Collections DT471 K55 1897.
A Study in Scarlet
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930) descended from a family of illustrators, including grandfather John Doyle (b.1797), uncles Henry (b.1827) and Richard (b.1824), and father Charles (b.1832). Arthur's uncles helped fund his early education, paving the way for his future medical studies at Edinburgh. This education shaped the characterisation of Sherlock Holmes; A Study in Scarlet marks the first appearance of this legendary detective. Doyle made several unsuccessful attempts to publish this work before it finally appeared in Beeton's Christmas Annual in 1887. The following year it was published in book form, featuring six illustrations by his father.
Arthur Conan Doyle, A Study in Scarlet, London: Ward, Lock & Co., 1902, With kind permission, Reed Naseby Library RN DOY, Heritage Collection, Dunedin Public Library.
Richard Doyle (1824-1883), uncle to Arthur Conan Doyle, worked as a prominent illustrator and political cartoonist in London's periodical publication trade. In the 1840s, Richard provided over 1,000 drawings for the popular magazine Punch, and established connections with the foremost novelists of the day, including Charles Dickens and William Makepeace Thackeray. Thackeray later invited Doyle to illustrate The Newcomes, his serialised novel appearing between 1853 and 1855.
William Makepeace Thackeray, The Newcomes, London: Bradbury and Evans, June, 1854, de Beer Eb 1853 T.
The Second Jungle Book
Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936) was born in India and grew up to chronicle the British Empire. Illustrations by his father, John Lockwood Kipling (1837-1911), feature in early editions of Kipling's most famous works, the two Jungle Books (1894-1895) and Kim (1901). Rudyard's father was not the only influential artist in the family: his maternal uncles were the well-known Pre-Raphaelite painter Edward Burne-Jones (1833-1898); and the Royal Academician Edward Poynter (1836-1919).
Rudyard Kipling, The Second Jungle Book, London: Macmillan and Co., 1899, Brasch PR4854 S42.
Rudyard Kipling by Sir Philip Burne-Jones, 2nd Bt
Sir Philip Burne-Jones (son of Sir Edward Burne-Jones) painted this portrait of his cousin, Rudyard Kipling, surrounded by books and reminders of travel, and deep in thought over his manuscripts.
Sir Philip Burne-Jones, Rudyard Kipling by Sir Philip Burne-Jones, 2nd Bt, Unpublished, c. 1899, Reproduced from Wikimedia Commons; original held in National Portrait Gallery, London.
Bluebeard's Keys and Other Stories
Writer Anne Isabella Thackeray Ritchie (1837-1919) assisted her father, novelist William Makepeace Thackeray (1811-1863), by transcribing his manuscripts for publishers, including copying out the majority of The Newcomes. Anne lived most of her adult life with her sister Harriet and Leslie Stephen, Harriet's husband and literary journalist. Anne and Stephen continued to live together after Harriet's early death in 1875.
[Anne Thackeray Ritchie], Bluebeard's Keys and Other Stories, London: Smith, Elder, & Co., 1874, Storage Bliss YI RitYb S.
Dictionary of National Biography. Vol. I. Abbadie – Beadon
Sir Leslie Stephen (1832-1904) was an accomplished mountaineer, writer, and magazine editor. His two marriages connected him to some of Victorian Britain's foremost literary and artistic forces: the novel-writing Thackerays and the photographer Julia Margaret Cameron. In 1882, Stephen undertook the monumental role of editing the Dictionary of National Biography. He contributed 283 entries, among them the lives of his father, Sir James Stephen (1789-1859), and his father-in-law, William Makepeace Thackeray.
Edited by Leslie Stephen and Sidney Lee, Dictionary of National Biography. Vol. I. Abbadie – Beadon, London: Smith, Elder, & Co., 1908, Central DA28 DJ21.
Between the Acts
Virginia Woolf (1882-1941) was born into intellectual aristocracy as the third child of Leslie Stephen and his second wife, Julia Prinsep Stephen (1846-1895). Along with her siblings Thoby Stephen (1880-1906) and Vanessa Bell (1879-1961), Virginia became acquainted with the circle of writers and artists who formed the Bloomsbury Group, including her future husband Leonard Woolf (1880-1969). In 1917, Virginia and Leonard founded the Hogarth Press, which published key Modernist works including Katherine Mansfield's Prelude (1918), T.S. Eliot's The Waste Land (1922), and Virginia's own Mrs Dalloway (1925), and To the Lighthouse (1927). Virginia's final and posthumously published novel, Between the Acts, features a jacket cover designed by her sister Vanessa Bell.
Virginia Woolf, Between the Acts, London: The Hogarth Press, 1941, Special Collections PR6045 O72 B42 1941.
Edward Gibbon Wakefield. The Colonization of South Australia and New Zealand
At age 16, Richard Garnett (1835-1906) was appointed an assistant librarian at the British Museum. He established a career for himself there, eventually becoming Keeper of Printed Books. His wide-ranging literary output included a monograph on astrology, the evocative poem 'Where Corals Lie' (famously set to music by Edward Elgar), and numerous contributions to the Encyclopaedia Britannica and the Dictionary of National Biography. In his later years, Richard turned to writing the lives of eminent British statesmen, including the National Colonisation Society founder, Edward Gibbon Wakefield. This copy of Garnett's biography was previously owned by the Dunedin collector Dr Thomas Hocken.
Richard Garnett, Edward Gibbon Wakefield. The Colonization of South Australia and New Zealand, London: T. Fisher Unwin, 1898, Hocken Bliss L9 WakG.
The Brothers Karamazov. Volume II
In 1889, Constance Black (1861-1946) married Richard Garnett's son, the writer and literary editor Edward Garnett (1868-1937). A remarkable scholar, Constance began learning Russian out of her interest in Bolshevism. In 1892, after the birth of her son, David, she devoted her time to Russian translation. In 1894, she travelled to Moscow to meet with Leo Tolstoy. She was among the first to introduce the writings of Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky, and Chekov to an Anglophone audience. Her translations of 71 volumes of Russian literary works are still read and used as models for translations.
Fyodor Dostoyevsky (Translated by Constance Garnett), The Brothers Karamazov. Volume II, London: J. M. Dent, , Brasch PG3326 B7.
Lady into Fox
The only child of Edward and Constance Garnett, David Garnett (1892-1981) was born into a life of letters. He studied botany at college but soon returned to the literary circles he was accustomed to – particularly the Bloomsbury Group – and pursued a career in writing. Garnett wrote prolifically and successfully throughout the 1920s. His first wife, artist Rachel ('Ray') Marshall (1891-1940), provided woodcut illustrations for several of his works, including Lady into Fox. Garnett maintained intimate relationships with members of the Bloomsbury Group, including with painter Duncan Grant (1885-1978), the father of his second wife, artist Angelica Bell (1918-2012).
David Garnett, Lady into Fox, London: Chatto & Windus, 1922, Special Collections PR6013 A66 L3.
Sidonia the Sorceress: the supposed destroyer of the whole reigning ducal house of Pomerania
Oscar Wilde's mother, Jane, Lady Wilde (1821-1896), was a poet and skilled linguist. Her first publication was an 1849 translation of a German Gothic tale, Sidonia the Sorceress, which tells the story of a sixteenth-century noblewoman tried and executed for witchcraft. Oscar Wilde declared this work 'my favourite romantic reading when a boy'.
Wilhelm Meinhold (Translated by Lady Wilde), Sidonia the Sorceress: the supposed destroyer of the whole reigning ducal house of Pomerania, London: Reeves and Turner, 1894, Special Collections PT2430 M35 S513 1894.
Jane, Lady Wilde wrote Irish nationalist poetry under the pen name 'Speranza' and encouraged her children to carry on her revolutionary legacies. Lady Wilde's influence extended far beyond her children; when Oscar Wilde visited North America in 1882, he was welcomed as 'Speranza's boy'.
Speranza (Lady Wilde), Poems, Dublin: James Duffy, 1864, Special Collections PR5809 P6 1864.
'A Wilde Idea' from Punch, or the London Charivari
Irish novelist, essayist, poet, and playwright Oscar Wilde (1854-1900) was born into an intellectual and patriotic family. His mother, Jane, Lady Wilde (1821-1896), was a popular poet and Irish nationalist; his father, William Wilde (1815-1876) was an accomplished medical doctor and collector of Irish folktales. Instilled with the literary and political influences of his parents, Wilde established a reputation for himself as an intellectual and aesthete at the end of the nineteenth century. Here, the Punch cartoonist, John Bernard Partridge (1861-1945), imagines Wilde in soldier's uniform, poking fun at Wilde's national identity, the troubled production history of his French play Salome (1891), and English censorship.
John Bernard Partridge, 'A Wilde Idea' from Punch, or the London Charivari, London: Published at the Office, 85 Fleet Street, 9 July, 1892, Storage Journal AP101 P8.
A House of Pomegranates
A House of Pomegranates (1891) is Wilde's second published collection of short stories, following The Happy Prince and Other Tales (1888). Wilde dedicated A House of Pomegranates to his wife Constance (1859-1898), a gesture interpreted by some as an implicit apology for his shortcomings as a husband and father to his two sons. Wilde purportedly said that this work was 'intended neither for the British child nor the British public', referring perhaps to the dark nature of the tales and their political allegories.
Oscar Wilde, A House of Pomegranates, London: Methuen, 1915, Special Collections PR5818 H6 1915.
The Ballad of Reading Gaol
Oscar Wilde was accused of sodomy in 1895 and charged with gross indecency under the Criminal Law Amendment Act of 1885. After a drawn-out trial process, Wilde was found guilty and sentenced to two years' imprisonment. Once released, he was exiled to France where he wrote The Ballad of Reading Gaol. Wilde published the poem anonymously, signing the work C.3.3. (cell block C, landing 3, cell 3). The poem sold well and quickly, going through seven editions in just over one year. This copy is a fifth edition.
C.3.3 (Oscar Wilde), The Ballad of Reading Gaol, London: Leonard Smithers, 1898, Special Collections PR5818 B2 1898.
The Ballad of Reading Gaol
Oscar Wilde's The Ballad of Reading Gaol remained unsigned until the seventh edition, when printers included Wilde's name in brackets on the title page. This illustrated copy is an edition printed in 1948 featuring engravings by Arthur Wragg.
Oscar Wilde, The Ballad of Reading Gaol, London: Castle Press, 1948, Special Collections PR5818 B2 1948 .
Melmoth the Wanderer
Charles Maturin (1780-1824) was the great-uncle of Oscar Wilde. He wrote several Irish national tales and Gothic romances. His fifth novel, Melmoth the Wanderer (1820), was one of Wilde's favourite books, and critics have noted the thematic resonances between it and Wilde's own novels. One obvious influence of Maturin is in Wilde's choice of the pseudonym 'Sebastian Melmoth', which he adopted upon his release from Reading Gaol. Wilde explained his reason to a friend: 'to prevent postmen having fits I sometimes have my letters inscribed by the name of a curious novel by my great-uncle Maturin'.
Charles Maturin, Melmoth the Wanderer, London: Folio Society, 1993, Special Collections.