Watercolour Diaries of a Victorian Lady


Martin Bryan-Brown

Price: £14.50


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Left Victoria by the 9.0 o’clock. Ellen Grimes set me off. Had a beautiful crossing from Newhaven to Dieppe and no one ill. Thus begins the continental travels on 27 June 1892, of an independent-minded, artistic and adventurous young English lady, Ellen Maria Carter. Born in Birmingham, the seventh of nine children, ‘Nellie’ was a daughter of Empire. A homesick boarder at school in Bristol, she went to finishing school in Switzerland and at 18, dutifully entered the social life of middle-class Victorian England. A true Victorian, Nellie was also an indefatigable (and often seasick) traveller for whom the discomforts of a stomach upset or a stuffy railway carriage were always recompensed by a sight of snow on the Alps, a concert at a mountain lake or a parcel of oysters. Ups and downs, good and bad, Nellie’s day-to-day life in England and her travels, both home and abroad, she recorded in her diaries, sometimes in French but mostly in English, in which she noted the particularities, thoughts and excitements of a remarkable life. And next to her diaries were her Winsor and Newtons – the watercolour pads that she filled with the landscapes in which she holidayed, hiked and explored. This book is but a small part of Nellie’s legacy, edited by her grandson Martin Bryan-Brown who has collected excerpts from her life in England (350 ‘social calls’ in 1881), sketches of her wardrobe and after an introductory history, diaries and sketches from six years Nellie spent travelling at home and abroad. It is a life that seems both uncomfortably mannered and wonderfully free, a time before television and autobahns when European travel, and travel in England, was an adventure worth capturing in minute and beautiful detail – a feat that Nellie’s curious mind and paintbox has captured perfectly. ISBN 978-1-906593-36-0 210mm x 270mm 112 pp Full colour illustrations throughout Softback

Martin Bryan-Brown
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