Harriet and Leslie Stephen, 1867

Harriet and Leslie Stephen

Harriet Marian (“Minny”) Thackeray Stephen (1840-1875) and Leslie Stephen (1832-1904) are seen here standing outdoors, probably on their wedding trip to Switzerland in 1867. Minny was the youngest daughter of the novelist William Makepeace Thackeray and Isabella Shawe, who suffered a mental breakdown in 1840. Minny and her older sister, the novelist Anne Isabella Thackeray Ritchie (1837-1919), were friends of Leslie Stephen’s mother and sister, as well as Stephen’s second wife, Julia.

After their marriage, the couple lived at 16 Onslow Gardens in London with Minny’s sister. Stephen became the editor of the Cornhill Magazine and wrote a book on the History of English Thought in the Eighteenth Century. After Minny’s death in 1875 from convulsions related to the premature birth of her second child, Stephen lived with his sister-in-law until her marriage in 1877 to Richmond Ritchie. According to Leslie Stephen, Anny was “the most sympathetic person I ever knew,” but her excessive optimism bothered Stephen to whom a “melancholy view” came more naturally.

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Reproduction of plate 35d from Leslie Stephen’s Photograph Album
Original: albumen print (9.3 x 5.9 cm., arched top)
Mortimer Rare Book Room, Smith College

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