Anne Isabella Thackeray Ritchie

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Anne Ritchie in May 1870. Albumen print from Collodion negative

Anne Isabella, Lady Ritchie, née Thackeray (9 June 1837 – 26 February 1919), was an English writer. She was the eldest daughter of William Makepeace Thackeray. She was the author of several novels which were highly regarded in their time, and a central figure in the late Victorian literary scene. She is perhaps best remembered today as the custodian of her father's literary legacy, and for her short fiction placing traditional fairy tale narratives in a Victorian milieu.


Anne Isabella Thackeray was born in London, the eldest daughter of William Makepeace Thackeray and his wife Isabella Gethin Shawe (1816–1893). She had two younger sisters: Jane, born in 1839, who died at eight months, and Harriet Marian (1840–1875), who married Leslie Stephen in 1869. Anne, whose father called her "Anny", spent her childhood in France and England.

She married her cousin Richmond Ritchie, seventeen years her junior, in 1877. The couple had two children, Hester and Billy.

She was the step-aunt of Virginia Woolf who penned an obituary for her in the Times Literary Supplement. She is believed to be the inspiration for the character of Mrs. Hilbery in Woolf's Night and Day.[1]

Literary career[edit]

In 1863, Anne Isabella published The story of Elizabeth with immediate success.

Several works followed:

  • To Esther, and Other Sketches (1869)
  • The Village on the Cliff
  • Old Kensington
  • Toilers and Spinsters, and Other Essays
  • Bluebeard's Keys, and Other Stories
  • Five Old Friends

In other writings, she peculiarly used old folk stories to depict modern situations and occurrences, such as Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella and Little Red Riding Hood.

She also published the following novels:

  • Miss Angel (1875)
  • Miss Williamson's Divagations (1881)
  • Mrs. Dymond (1885; reprinted in 1890)
  • A Book of Sibyls: Mrs. Barbauld, Mrs. Opie, Miss Edgeworth, Miss Austen (1883)
  • The biography Madame de Sévigné (1881)
  • The semi-autobiographical novella 'From An Island' (1877)


  1. ^ Taylor, D. J.. "Ritchie , Anne Isabella, Lady Ritchie (1837–1919)." D. J. TaylorOxford Dictionary of National Biography. Ed. H. C. G. Matthew and Brian Harrison. Oxford: OUP, 2004. Online ed. Ed. Lawrence Goldman. May 2006


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