Virginia Woolf’s father, Sir Leslie Stephen (1832-1904),
was an editor, biographer, philosopher, intellectual historian,
alpinist, and literary critic. He was the first editor of the
Dictionary of National Biography, from 1882 to 1891, and he
contributed important articles until 1901. Stephen’s friends
included Tennyson, Browning, Meredith, Arnold, Carlyle, Froude,
G. H. Lewes, George Eliot, Trollope, Huxley, and Herbert Spencer.
Julia Margaret Pattle became Mrs. Charles Hay Cameron in 1838
and began her career as a photographer in 1864 when she was forty
nine. This is one of her early pictures. In 1878, when Leslie
Stephen married Mrs. Cameron’s niece, Julia Jackson Duckworth,
they were both widowers. Cameron was dazzled by Leslie Stephen’s
“vast intellect,” but also found him “wrapt
in gloom, appealing for pity.” He often recited poetry to
Cameron at Dimbola, her home on the Isle of Wight, where she took
many of her portraits of Victorian luminaries.
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