Elinor Darwin

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Elinor Mary Darwin
Born Elinor Mary Monsell
Limerick, Ireland
Died 1954
Resting place St Mary the Virgin Churchyard, Downe, Kent
51°8′53.98″N 0°52′21.06″E / 51.1483278°N 0.8725167°E / 51.1483278; 0.8725167Coordinates: 51°8′53.98″N 0°52′21.06″E / 51.1483278°N 0.8725167°E / 51.1483278; 0.8725167
Nationality Irish-English
Education Slade School of Art
Known for Engraver, painter
Spouse(s) Bernard Darwin
Lady Emer beside a tree, Device of Dun Emer Press, designed by Elinor Monsell about 1903

Elinor Mary Darwin (1879–1954) was an Irish born illustrator, engraver and portrait painter. Her illustrations were included in several of her husband, Bernard Darwin's books for children.

Personal life[edit]

Elinor Mary Monsell, the eldest daughter of William Thomas Monsell,[1] was born in Limerick, Munster, Ireland.[2] At 17 years of age she left Ireland for London.[3] Her brother John Robert Monsell was a children's author and illustrator, who collaborated with Herbert Hughes on Rivals!, a 1935 musical version of Richard Brinsley Sheridan's The Rivals.

She married Bernard Darwin on Tuesday, 31 July 1906 at St Luke's Church, Chelsea in London, England.[1] He was a golf writer and grandson of the British naturalist Charles Darwin.[4][5] Their children were Ursula Darwin (1908-2011)[6] and Sir Robert Vere Darwin (1910–1974).[5]

Prior to World War II many Darwin family members became members of the Eugenics Society. Elinor became one of the Fellows of the Society, as did Leonard Darwin's wife Mildred and other Darwin wives.[7]

She is buried in St Mary the Virgin Churchyard, Downe, Kent; nearby is Down House, the home of the Darwin family. An obituary by Sir Charles Tennyson was published in The Times.[2][8]


She studied at the Slade School of Art in London,[9] earning a scholarship in 1896.


Elinor was active from about 1899 to 1929.[10] Before she married, Elinor Monsell was one of the illustrators that worked with W.B. Yeats, whom she met in 1899 at Coole Park.[11] He appreciated her woodcuts, and asked her to create a logo for the Abbey Theatre. She created a pearwood engraving of a romantic image of Queen Maeve with one of her wolfhounds that appeared on the Abbey Theatre programmes beginning in 1904. She created the cover for Stephen Gwynn's The Fair Hills of Ireland, which was published in 1906. In 1907 Dun Emer Press's first pressmark was a wood engraving that she made of Lady Emer beside a tree.[9][12]

She illustrated some of her husband's books for children, such as the Tale Of Mr. Tootleoo,[13] Every Idle Dream,[14] and Mr. Tootleoo and Company.[15] Her illustrations, and those of J.B. Yeats and William Orpen, were included in the Second Annual Volume of The Shanachie, an "Irish Miscellany Illustrated" which included works be many Irish writer, including W.B. Yeats, Stephen Gwynn, Lady Gregory and George Bernard Shaw.[9][16]

Darwin taught her husband's cousin Gwen Raverat engraving.[17]

Her paintings A Doorway, Child with Toy Bird, and The Annunciation were exhibited in 1913 at the Whitechapel Exhibition of Irish Art in London.[18] She painted a portrait of poet and author Aubrey Thomas De Vere when he was 87 years old.[19]


  1. ^ a b Joseph Jackson Howard. Visitation of England and Wales. Priv. print.; 1905. p. 9.
  2. ^ a b Elinor Mary Monsell Darwin. St Mary the Virgin Churchyard, Downe, Kent. Find a Grave. Retrieved April 26, 2014.
  3. ^ Ruth Hill Viguers. Illustrators of Children's Books, 1744-1945: Supplement, 1946-1956. Horn Book; 1958. p. 296.
  4. ^ Virginia Woolf; Anne Olivier Bell. 1920-1924. Hogarth Press; 1977. ISBN 978-0-7012-0447-1. p. 19.
  5. ^ a b Tim M. Berra. Darwin and His Children: His Other Legacy. Oxford University Press; 26 September 2013. ISBN 978-0-19-930944-3. p. 130.
  6. ^ Whiting, David (3 February 2010). "Ursula Mommens obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved 3 February 2010. 
  7. ^ Tom Blaney. The Chief Sea Lion's Inheritance. Troubador Publishing Ltd; 1 May 2011. ISBN 978-1-84876-621-1. p. 129.
  8. ^ Sir Charles Tennyson, "Obituary: Mrs. Elinor Mary Darwin." The Times, Friday, May 07, 1954; pg. 11; Issue 52925; col C.
  9. ^ a b c Clare Hutton; Patrick Walsh. The Oxford History of the Irish Book, Volume V: The Irish Book in English, 1891-2000. Oxford University Press; 23 June 2011. ISBN 978-0-19-924911-4. p. 401.
  10. ^ Witt Library. A Checklist of Painters, C1200-1994 Represented in the Witt Library, Courtauld Institute of Art, London. Taylor & Francis; 1995. ISBN 978-1-884964-37-4. p. 120, 357.
  11. ^ Clare Hutton; Patrick Walsh. The Oxford History of the Irish Book, Volume V: The Irish Book in English, 1891-2000. Oxford University Press; 23 June 2011. ISBN 978-0-19-924911-4. pp. 391-401.
  12. ^ Dun Emer Press; Elizabeth Corbet Yeats; Elinor Darwin. The Dun Emer Press May 1908. Dun Emer Press; 1908.
  13. ^ Bernard Darwin; Elinor Darwin. The Tale of Mr. Tootleoo. Nonesuch Press; 1925.
  14. ^ Bernard Darwin. Every Idle Dream ... With Illustrations by Elinor Darwin. [Essays.].. London; 1948.
  15. ^ Bernard Darwin; Elinor Darwin. Mr. Tootleoo and Co. Faber & Faber; 1935.
  16. ^ The Publishers' Circular and Booksellers' Record, Volume 87. London: Office of "The Publishers Circular," Limited; 1907. p. 96.
  17. ^ Alan Warwick Palmer; Veronica Palmer. Who's Who in Bloomsbury. Harvester Press; 1 January 1987. ISBN 978-0-7108-0312-2. p. 132.
  18. ^ Irish Art Loan Exhibitions, 1765-1927. Manton Pub.; 1990. ISBN 978-0-9510610-4-6. p. 176.
  19. ^  Lee, Sidney, ed. (1912). "De Vere, Aubrey Thomas". Dictionary of National Biography, 1912 supplement​. 1. London: Smith, Elder & Co. pp. 492–493. 

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