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Benares House Gallery
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Title: Book - "Lady Geraldine's Courtship: A Romance of the Age"
Identifier: 979.6.1545
Donor: Geoffrey Sayers
Item Date: 1907
Creation Date: 2011
Location: Benares Historic House

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Description: A hard covered purple book with white and gold Art Nouveau decoration and title by Elizabeth Barrett Browning. The front flyleaf is inscribed in black ink and reads: "To dear Mary with love and every best wish for the New Year from her aff'ate Cousin Charles E. Fleming Jan. 1st, 1910." Illustrations by G.C. Wilmshurst and decorations by Franklin Booth.

Elizabeth Barret Browning (March 6, 1806-June 29, 1861) was a member of the Barrett family and one of the most respected poets of the Victorian era. The family fortune came from Sugar Plantations in Jamaica. Elizabeth was in delicate health most of her life, but that did not stop her from being a prolific writer and poet. She married Robert Browning and moved to Italy where they settled in Florence. At 43 she gave birth to a son, Robert Wiedemann Barret Browning, called 'Pen'. Browning is generally considered the greatest of English poetesses. Her works are full of tender and delicate sentiments, underpinned by strong and profound thought.

Mary Horatia Magrath Harris (1859-1954) was the granddaughter of Reverend James Magrath (1769- 1851), who was the first rector of St. Peter's Anglican Church in Erindale. Her parents, Christiana (née Sutherland) and William Melchior Magrath, married in 1856. Christiana died after the birth of her third daughter, Isabel, in 1860. Mary and her two sisters were raised by their aunt, Anna Cordelia Magrath, at Erindale Estate. Both the Magraths and Harrises were members of the St. Peter's Anglican Church and the families knew each other well. It was at church that Mary and Arthur Harris first met and later married in 1881. Mary and Arthur had three children, Annie (1882- 1986), Naomi and Margaret (1887). Oral tradition suggests that Mary never fully recovered from the sad loss of her third child and she suffered hearing impairment soon after. Mary was a very generous woman and held in high esteem by all who knew her. She enjoyed polishing silver, crocheting, and gardening. Mary died at the age of 94, January 20th, 1956.
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