Florence Henrietta Darwin

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Lady Florence Henrietta Darwin (née Fisher, previously Maitland; 31 January 1864 – 5 March 1920), was an English playwright.

Biographical notes[edit]

Florence Henrietta Fisher was born in Kensington, London, the daughter of Herbert William Fisher (1826–1903), author of Considerations on the Origin of the American War, and his wife Mary Louisa Jackson (1841–1916). Florence's brother was the MP Herbert Fisher and her sister Adeline Maria Fisher was the first wife of the composer Ralph Vaughan Williams. She was also a first cousin of writer Virginia Woolf and her sister Vanessa Bell.

As a child she posed for a series of photographic portraits by her great aunt, Julia Margaret Cameron, including A Study of St John the Baptist.[1]

She married first Frederic William Maitland (1850–1906), jurist and historian, and they had two daughters, Ermengard (1887 - 1968) and Fredegond (1889 - 1949); Fredegond was a poet who married the economist Gerald Frank Shove.

On 3 March 1913, aged 49, Florence became the third wife of Sir Francis Darwin, the twice-widowed botanist son of Charles Darwin. He was also a first cousin once removed (twice over) of her sister's husband Ralph Vaughan Williams, the second Josiah Wedgwood and his wife, Elizabeth, being their shared ancestor on one side and Robert Darwin and his wife, Susannah, on the other side.

In "F.W.Maitland: A Childs-Eye View" by her daughter Ermengard Maitland, Florence is referred to by (quote)... "her menagerie of animals, her hours of violin playing, her feeding of tramps and gypsies, her photography and pony-driving, her story-telling and play-writing...", as well as her liking for Thackeray. (Her first husband liked the works of Charles Dickens.)

She died on 5 March 1920 and her death was announced in The Times.[2] She was buried at the Parish of the Ascension Burial Ground in Cambridge,[3] where her second husband Sir Francis Darwin and his daughter Frances Cornford, from his marriage to Ellen Wordsworth Crofts, are also buried together.

Posthumously published by Cecil Sharp (a family friend) were Six Plays (1921), including the plays The New Year, The Seeds of Love, Princess Royal, My Man John, Bushes and Briars and The Lover's Tasks. A book called Green Broom was published in 1923.

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