Monday, September 5, 2011

Portrait of a worried woman

The Newstead Abbey collage should be finished today.
I had thought of including poor Lady Byron in it, running off with her babe in arms. When doing these houses I can't help but thinking about their occupants ...

Annabella was well aware that her husband cared more for her half sister than he did for her.
In the end I did a miniature portrait, playing card size (the correct term is ACEO but I loathe acronyms) which - as usually happens with me - kicks me into series mode. It is a small picture with a very long title - a sentence from a book. Last night I started on one of Fanny Wollstonecraft. I would like to see how a mosaic of about 20 would look together .... but I am getting ahead of myself.

Annabella Milbanke's unfortunate marriage to Lord Byron took place on New Year's Day 1815. A year and one child later she was divorced, hinting at but never specifying, his allegedly perverse practises in the bedroom and his much gossiped-about unnatural feelings for his half-sister, Augusta Leigh.

So she cut her losses and got out where other women at that time might well have put up and shut up.

The formidable Lady Byron is listed in Chambers as "English philanthropist". She went into the marriage with the celebrated poet with a view to reforming his character but spectacularly failed. She later put her reforming spirit to work more successfully elsewhere: in improving women's education, in agriculture and industry and in the anti-slavery movement.


  1. Would love to see a series of strong women. Sounds like a good theme you could do for years to come! And grouping them together sounds right visually and metaphorically speaking!

  2. Love the portrait. Fascinating story. It would be great to see a mosaic of portraits.

  3. Annabella was one of the luckier stronger ones. A lot of those women in the Romantic movement had a pretty poor deal - even the ones who weren't married or otherwise attached to the appalling Shelley! They deserve to be remembered even if it is in a 6.4 by 8.9 cm collage! Suffering Romantic womanhood!