Anne Isabella Thackeray Ritchie

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Anne Isabella Thackeray Ritchie
Anne Isabella Thackeray Ritchie.jpg
Anne Ritchie in May 1870
Born (1837-06-09)9 June 1837
London, England
Died 26 February 1919(1919-02-26) (aged 81)
Occupation Writer
Nationality British
Spouse Richmond Ritchie
Children 2
Relatives William Makepeace Thackeray (father)
Isabella Gethin Shawe (mother)

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. Her 1885 novel Mrs. Dymond contains the earliest English-language use of the well-known proverb "give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for life".


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, where she and her sisters were accompanied by the future poet Anne Evans.[1]

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.[2]

Literary career[edit]

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

Several works followed:

  • The Village on the Cliff (1867)
  • To Esther, and Other Sketches (1869)
  • Old Kensington (1873)
  • Toilers and Spinsters, and Other Essays (1874)
  • Bluebeard's Keys, and Other Stories (1874)
  • Five Old Friends (1875)
  • Madame de Sévigné (1881), a biography with literary excerpts[3]

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


  1. ^ Virginia Blain, Patricia Clements and Isobel Grundy: The Feminist Companion to Literature in English. Women Writers from the Middle Ages to the Present Day (London: Batsford, 1990), "Anne Evans", p. 346.
  2. ^ 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
  3. ^ Foreign Classics for English Readers (William Blackwood & Sons) - Book Series List, Retrieved 3 June 2017.


  • Aplin, John. The Inheritance of Genius - A Thackeray Family Biography, 1798-1875, Lutterworth Press (2010). ISBN 978-07188-9224-1
  • Aplin, John. Memory and Legacy - A Thackeray Family Biography, 1876-1919, Lutterworth Press (2011). ISBN 978-07188-9225-8
  • Aplin, John (editor) The Correspondence and Journals of the Thackeray Family, 5 vols., Pickering & Chatto (2011).

External links[edit]