these are the timesdirty beloved



Portrait of Mary Ellen Meredith

Henry Wallis
"Henry Wallis's deeply sensitive portrait of his lover, the beautiful Mary Ellen Meredith (1821-61) dates the same year that she gave birth to their son Harold, known as Felix, who was born in April 1858.
Mary Ellen was an adept writer, she was witty, intellectual and free-spirited. Holman-Hunt described her as a "dashing horsewoman", while C. L. Clodd's Memoirs recalled that those "who knew her say she was charming, with intellectual gifts above average". She was a woman who broke all Victorian conventions when in the summer of 1857 she left her husband. Contrary to popular belief she did not elope with Wallis immediately although their affair had probably begun in about February that year. Rather the independently minded Mrs Meredith went with her two small children to Seaford, intending to live by her own writing and on a small private income. During the late summer she and Wallis spent a glorious holiday in Wales and the following April their son Harold was born. She was the eldest of five children, born in Stamford Street London in July 1821. Following the death of her sister in 1826 her mother suffered increasing mental illness so Mary Ellen was largely raised by her adoring father, who taught her to pursue life and knowledge to the full.
Thomas Love Peacock, a child of the enlightenment, was closely associated with such figures as John Stuart Mill, T. J. Hogg and P. B. Shelley, who with the feminist Mary Wollstonecraft and her daughter Mary Shelley as well as the unfettered Claire Clairmont served as dominant role models in Mary Ellen's life.
From her youth Peacock's daughter wrote prose and poetry and with her father compiled a number of cookery books. Her precocious childhood culminated in a tragic first love when her first husband, Edward Nicolls was drowned at sea in March 1844, three months after their marriage. By then she was expecting her first child, Edith. Enter the then unknown writer, George Meredith, who was handsome, brilliant and charming and seven years her junior. Though he later denied it, Meredith fell in love immediately and after six proposals they married in 1849. At first all appeared well, both pursuing their literary careers, at times Meredith publishing her work under his own name. But financial constraints, a lack of mutual understanding, numerous miscarriages and infant deaths, despite a healthy son named Arthur, led to irreconcilable difficulties. The situation was not helped by Thomas Peacock's obvious dislike of his son-in-law, especially as the latter did not share the family's culinary passions."

pages devoted to George Meredith
The Golden Key (on-line resource for all things related to Victorian novelist, poet and Christian Fantasy writer George MacDonald (1824-1905) and home to the Wingfold email list)
link Art "4" "2" -Day 21.Feb.05

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