Lady Charlotte Elliot

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Lady Charlotte Elliot (22 July 1839 – 15 January 1880),[1] born Charlotte Carnegie, was a Victorian poet born on 22 July 1839 in the parish of Farnell, Angus (possibly at Kinnaird Castle), Scotland.


She was a daughter of Sir James Carnegie, 5th Baronet (1799-1849) and Charlotte Lysons. Her maternal grandfather was Reverend Daniel Lysons. Charlote Carnegie was thus a younger sister to James Carnegie, 9th Earl of Southesk.[2][3][4] In 1855, Charlotte was raised to the social rank of an earl's daughter by royal warrant. Granting her the courtesy title of Lady.[5]

In 1860, Charlotte married her first husband Thomas Fotheringham, Esq.. She was widowed in 1864.[2][3][4] A few years later, she published her first volume of poetry: Stella, and other poems (1867) under the pseudonym "Florenz".[3][4] The eponymous poem of the collection,Stella, is set in the Italian Peninsula. It features the doomed love of Count Marone and Stella. He is a man seeking Italian unification, she is a daughter of the Neapolitan aristocracy which is resisting this cause. Her early death causes her lover to seek the perils of the battlefield, in an attempt to distract his mind. The subject matter is similar to Maud (1855) by Alfred, Lord Tennyson.[4] Other poems of the collection seem focused on themes of "intense and painful experience", such as Desolate (concerning the emotions felt when a person is abandoned by a lover) and The Prayer of the Penitent (concerning the experience of shame before God).[4]

In 1868, Charlotte married her second husband Frederick Boileau Elliot.[5] Frederick was the fifth son of admiral George Elliot (1784-1863) and Eliza Cecilia Ness. His father was a younger brother of Gilbert Elliot-Murray-Kynynmound, 2nd Earl of Minto.[6] A decade later, Charlotte published her second volume of poetry: Medusa, and other poems (1878). It was published under her married name and dedicated to Frederick. The eponymous poem, Medusa, features the figure of Medusa from Classical mythology. The poem is sympathetic to Medusa, featuring its protagonist experiencing "days of despair" and "unspeakable woe" from the time of her transformation to her death at the hands of Perseus.[3][4] The other poems of the collections are melancholic tales "on time, love and death".[4]

Charlotte died on 15 January 1880. A third volume of poetry, Mary Magdalene and other poems (1880), was published posthumously. According to her requests, only fifty copies of this collection were printed.[4] Her husband died on 23 December of the same year. They were survived by a single son, Gilbert Compton Elliot (1871-1931). Gilbert went on to serve in the Black Watch, reaching the rank of Lieutenant.[7]

List of works[edit]

  • Stella, and other poems (1867).[4]
  • Medusa, and other poems (1878).[4]
  • Mary Magdalene and other poems (1880).[4]


  1. ^ "Lady Charlotte Elliot". Orlando: Women's Writing in the British Isles from the Beginnings to the Present. 2006. Retrieved 28 June 2013. 
  2. ^ a b Anderson (1867), p. 493
  3. ^ a b c d Reilly (2000), p. 149
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Sage, Greer, Showalter (1999), p. 219-220
  5. ^ a b Dod's Peerage (1870), p. 700
  6. ^ Burke (1865), p. 769
  7. ^ Mosley (2003), p. 2710