Julia Margaret Cameron Photograph Collection Now Available Online

Robert Browning by Julia Margaret Cameron. 1865.

Robert Browning by Julia Margaret Cameron. 1865.

By Jennifer Borderud, Access and Outreach Librarian

Julia Margaret Cameron (1815-1879) was a 19th-century photographer known for her portraits of Victorian celebrities and for her photographs depicting scenes from religious and literary works.

The Armstrong Browning Library has ten original photographs by Cameron. Five of these photographs are of Robert Browning who sat for Cameron in 1865 at the home of her neighbor Alfred Tennyson on the Isle of Wight.

Four additional photographs in the collection were gifts from Cameron to Browning and are inscribed by the photographer. These include a photograph of Julia Prinsep Stephen (née Jackson, formerly Duckworth, 1846-1895), Cameron’s niece and the mother of painter Vanessa Bell and writer Virginia Woolf; a photograph of English dramatist and poet Sir Henry Taylor (1800-1886) and Cameron’s maid Mary Ann Hillier (1847-1936) as Friar Lawrence and Juliet from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet; a photograph titled La Madonna Aspettante, again featuring Mary Ann Hillier and William Frederick Gould (born 1861), a boy who lived near Cameron’s home; and a photograph of Anne Thackeray Ritchie (1837-1919), English writer and the daughter of novelist William Makepeace Thackeray.

Friar Lawrence and Juliet by Julia Margaret Cameron. 1865.

Friar Lawrence and Juliet by Julia Margaret Cameron. 1865.

The final photograph in the collection is of Hallam Tennyson (1852-1928), the eldest son of Alfred Tennyson.

The photographs have been digitized by Baylor’s Digital Projects Group and can be viewed here. Browning’s personal copy of his portrait by Cameron is on permanent display in the Research Hall of the Armstrong Browning Library.


Barlow, Helen. “Cameron, Julia Margaret (1815–1879).” Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press, 2004. Online edition, Oct. 2008. Web. 9 June 2015

Cox, Julian, and Colin Ford. Julia Margaret Cameron: The Complete Photographs. Los Angeles: The J. Paul Getty Museum, c2003. Print.


Giving Nineteenth Century Women Writers a Voice and a Face — Anne Isabella, Lady Ritchie, née Thackeray (1837 – 1919) Part 2

One of  the letters between Lady Ritchie and Robert Browning describes what promised to be an interesting lunch involving wild animals.

Letter from Anne Thackeray Ritchie to Robert Browning. 18 February [1885]

Anne Thackeray Ritchie makes this request to Robert Browning. “If you could come to lunch at 1:30 next Sunday we have a friendly lion tamer Capt. Speedy & some members of our family who would all—as you know—love (& honour too) to see you.”

Another envelope bearing Anne Thackeray Ritchie’s handwriting held an interesting drawing by Robert Browning.

A pencil sketch of Archbishop Stigant with crosier, signed “Roberti Browningii opus” is accompanied by an envelope annotated by Anne Thackeray Ritchie: “Bishop Stigand.” The image was drawn following a visit to see the Bayeux Tapestries with the Milsand family in September 1870 according to a letter from Laure Milsand to Anne Thackeray Ritchie, 14 March 1891.

Yet another inscription by Robert Browning thanks Miss Thackeray for a gift.

The Inn Album by Robert Browning (London, 1875)

Still another inscription by Robert Browning notes that this book of translations was given to him by Miss Thackeray and Hallam Tennyson, Alfred Lord Tennyson’s son.

Richard Claverhouse Jebb, Translations into Greek and Latin Verse (Cambridge, 1873).

The half-title page of this book bears this inscription by Robert Browning:

(The joint gift of Annie Thackeray and Hallam Tennyson:


x) καὶ μὴν Μάρων μοι πῶμ᾽ ἔδωκε, παῖς θεοῦ,
ὃν ἐξέθρεψα ταῖσδ᾽ ἐγώ ποτ᾽ ἀγκάλαις.

R B, Dec. 19. ’73: ὡς σαφέστερον μάθης.)

The lines are from Euripides, Cyclops, lines 141-42, p. 153 in Euripides Witzschel, Vol. 2 in Browning’s traveling Greek library. (Look for another blogpost soon about this unique collection item.) The lines refer to an exchange between Odysseus and Silenus. Oddysseus says: “What is more, Maron, the god’s own son, gave me the drink.” And Silenus replies: “The lad I once raised in these very arms?” It is followed by Robert’s comment in Greek: “to make my meaning clear, ” probably referring to the “x” he placed under Hallam Tennyson’s name and alluding to his close connection to Hallam. If Hallam is “the god’s own son,” does it also intimate that Tennyson is the god?

Melinda Creech

Giving Nineteenth Century Women Writers a Voice and a Face — Anne Isabella, Lady Ritchie, née Thackeray (1837 – 1919)

My father [William Makepeace Thackeray, a nineteenth century English novelist] was always immensely interested by the stories of spiritualism and table-turning, though he certainly scarcely believed half of them. Mrs. Browning believed and Mr. Browning was always irritated beyond patience by the subject. I can remember her voice, a sort of faint minor chord, as she, lisping the “r” a little, uttered her remonstrating “Robert!” and his loud dominant baritone sweeping away every possible plea she and my father could make; and then came my father’s deliberate notes, which seemed to fall a little sadly — his voice always sounded a little sad — upon the rising waves of the discussion.

Anne Ritchie, “Robert & Elizabeth Browning” in Records of Tennyson, Ruskin, and Browning (London: Macmillan, 1892), pp. 191-2.

Dr. Elizabeth Jay, Emeritus Professor at Oxford Brookes University, who has written extensively on women writers and the interaction of religion and literature in the nineteenth century, suggested the above quotation which concerns the Brownings’ disagreements about spiritualism. She suggests it is typical of Anne Thackeray Ritchie’s ability to recall the small intimate details of her acquaintance with the Brownings and bring those experiences to life. Lady Ritchie shares her memories of three great writers of the Victorian period in this book.  The signature “E. FitzGerald, Oct. 1, 1892” appears on the front flyleaf of the Armstrong Browning Library’s copy of this book. Eliza Fitzgerald was a good friend of Robert Browning.

Anne Ritchie was the eldest daughter of William Makepeace Thackeray, a well-known Victorian novelist. Ritchie was well acquainted with many in the literary community and was Virginia Woolf’s step-aunt. Ritchie notably wrote biographical pieces on her contemporaries, including Tennyson, the Brownings, and Julia Margaret Cameron. The photograph above was taken by Ms. Cameron. Ritchie was also popular for her modernization of fairy tales, setting them in the nineteenth century. She published the stories in several volumes, including Five Old Friends and Bluebeard’s Keys.

The Armstrong Browning Library owns twenty-six nineteenth-century editions of Anne Thackeray Ritchie’s works, including rare editions of The Story of Elizabeth: A Tale (1864), To Esther, and Other Sketches (1869), Bluebeard’s Keys, and Other Stories (1874), Toilers and Spinsters, and Other Essays (1874), Records of Tennyson, Ruskin and Browning (1892), and Alfred, Lord Tennyson and his friends; A series of 25 portraits … from the negatives of Mrs. Julia Margaret Cameron and H. H. H. Cameron (1893).

The ABL also owns 110 letters in which Anne Thackeray Ritchie was a correspondent. Many of these letters are part of the Joseph Milsand Archive and are previously unpublished. Her manuscript of “From the Roundabout Papers” is also at the library.

Melinda Creech