Mrs Herbert Duckworth by Julia Margaret Cameron (1872).


My search to find out about the elusive Julia Prinsep Stephen (pictured), mother of Virginia Woolf and Vanessa Bell.

Chapter 1: Indian Roots (c.1772–1837)

The Jackson family background – Julia’s great grandfather, Captain George Jackson (pictured) and his voyage on the Princess Royal round the South China Seas. Calcutta and the British East India Company. Her grandmother Mary Howard. Her father, John Jackson’s, childhood in Lincolnshire and early life as a surgeon in India. Marriage of her parents, John Jackson and Mia Pattle.

Chapter 2: French Connections (c.1757–1840)

Julia Jackson’s French background. Her great-great grandfather, the Chevalier de L’Étang (pictured), at Versailles and in India at Pondicherry, Calcutta, Lucknow, and Ghazipur. Her great grandmother, Thérèse Blin de Grincourt and her children in Paris and in Calcutta. Her parents, John and Mia Jackson, early life together in India.

Chapter 3: The Pattles in India and France Sensational Stories (c.1770–1834)

Julia’s great-grandfather Thomas Pattle’s sensational life in India and in England. Her grandparents, James Pattle (pictured) and Adéline de L’Étang. Their lives in India and in France and some remarkable voyages. Their seven eye-catching daughters – the Pattle sisters – growing up in Paris and arriving in Calcutta.

Chapter 4: Julia’s Mother and Aunts – Pattledom in Calcutta (c.1834–1848)

The Pattle sisters in Calcutta Society. Emily Eden’s and Eliza Fane’s accounts. Holidays, celebrations, marriages, births and deaths. Early married life of Julia’s parents, John and Mia Jackson. The sensational deaths of her grandparents, James and Adeline Pattle (pictured). Mia and Julia prepare to leave India. 

Chapter 5: Pattledom, the Little Holland House Circle and Julia’s ‘training for life’ (c.1848–1851)

The Pattle sisters in England. Julia’s childhood. Adeline’s correspondence with John Jackson in India. G.F. Watts joins Pattledom. Marriage of Virginia Pattle and Charles Somers, Visount Eastnor. Sara and Thoby Prinsep move to Little Holland House and create an artistic bohemian Circle. Julia’s ‘training’ there. Female role models. Liberating Fashion.

Chapter 6: The Jacksons at Well Walk – new friends and relationships (c.1851–1855)

Julia’s mother, Mia Jackson moves her daughters to Well Lane, Hampstead. Corresponding with John Jackson. Visiting Julia’s aunt Virginia Somers at Eastnor Castle. John Jackson’s life in India. Mia Jackson’s new friends Henry Halford Vaughan, and Edward and Ellen Twisleton. The Pattle sisters model for Watts’ frescoes at Little Holland House and the Somers’ London home.

Chapter 7: The Jackson Family – new beginnings (c.1855–1862)

Julia’s father, John Jackson returns from India. The family move to Brent Lodge, Hendon. His medical career in England. Julia’s beauty begins to be noted. She models for acclaimed sculptor Baron Carlo Marochetti. Marriage of Julia’s sister Adeline to Henry Halford Vaughan, and her sister Mary to Herbert Fisher. 

Chapter 8: Julia, the Daughter at Home – More New Beginnings (c. 1864–1866)

The new art of Photography. Photographs of Julia in the Mia Album given to Mia Jackson by her sister Julia Margaret Cameron. Julia’s cousins and friends at Little Holland House and Freshwater, to which many of the residents of the Little Holland House Circle are increasingly moving. Ellen Terry and her surprising marriage to G.F. Watts. Mia Jackson and Julia travel widely in Europe and England. She has many new nieces and nephews and her friendship with Anny and Minny Thackeray deepens. Minny Thackeray is engaged to Leslie Stephen. Julia is engaged to Herbert Duckworth in 1864. The Jacksons move from Hendon to Saxonbury Lodge.

Chapter 9: Herbert and Julia: the beginning of their life together (c. 18661867)

Herbert Duckworth, his family background and home at Orchardleigh. Julia and Herbert’s engagement. A delighted frenzy of family letters, photographs and wedding plans. Accounts of their wedding. 

More chapters to follow soon

In memory of Marion Whybrow, Professor Julia Briggs, and Cecil Woolf for encouraging me to begin looking for Julia.

With grateful thanks to my husband, my daughter, and my friends in the Virginia Woolf Society of Great Britain for their endless support, guidance and expertise; and to all those others who helped me along the way.

With special thanks to Elaine Ireland and Helen Dell for their invaluable technical and design skills and support.

Cover image: Julia Margaret Cameron (1872). Mrs Herbert Duckworth. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London. Licensed for Creative Commons usage. (accessed 27/01/2021).