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Leslie Stephen, late 1860s
by Julia Margaret Cameron (1815-1879)

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.

Leslie Stephen
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Reproduction of plate 25 from Leslie Stephen’s Photograph Album
Original: platinum print (23.2 x 18.5 cm.), cropped, possibly printed by Henry H. H. Cameron.
Mortimer Rare Book Room, Smith College

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