Anne Thackeray Ritchie

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Anne Isabella Thackeray Ritchie
Anne, Lady Ritchie, in May 1870
Anne Isabella Thackeray

(1837-06-09)9 June 1837
London, England
Died26 February 1919(1919-02-26) (aged 81)
SpouseRichmond Ritchie
RelativesHarriet Stephen (sister)

Anne Isabella, Lady Ritchie (née Thackeray; 9 June 1837 – 26 February 1919), eldest daughter of William Makepeace Thackeray, was an English writer, whose several novels were appreciated in their time and made her a central figure on the late Victorian literary scene. She is noted especially as the custodian of her father's literary legacy, and for short fiction that places fairy tale narratives in a Victorian milieu. Her 1885 novel Mrs. Dymond introduced into English the 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 (nicknamed "Minny") (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 sister were accompanied by the future poet Anne Evans.[1]

In 1877, she married her cousin, Richmond Ritchie, who was 17 years her junior.[2] They had two children, Hester and Billy. She was a step-aunt of Virginia Woolf, who penned an obituary of her in the Times Literary Supplement. She is also thought to have inspired the character of Mrs Hilbery in Woolf's Night and Day.[3]

Photo of Lady Ritchie (c. 1890)

Literary career[edit]

In 1863, Anne Isabella published The Story of Elizabeth with immediate success. Several other 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[4]

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

She also wrote the five 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. ^ Kaul, Chandrika. "Ritchie, Sir Richmond Thackeray Willoughby". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/35764. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  3. ^ D. J. Taylor, "Ritchie , Anne Isabella, Lady Ritchie (1837–1919)." Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, edited by H. C. G. Matthew and Brian Harrison. Oxford: OUP, 2004. Online editor: Lawrence Goldman, May 2006.
  4. ^ 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]