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Bloomsbury Project

Bloomsbury and the Bloomsbury Project

Bloomsbury People

What is the Bloomsbury Project?

The Leverhulme-funded UCL Bloomsbury Project was established to investigate 19th-century Bloomsbury’s development from swampy rubbish-dump to centre of intellectual life

Led by Professor Rosemary Ashton, with Dr Deborah Colville as Researcher, the Project has traced the origins, Bloomsbury locations, and reforming significance of hundreds of progressive and innovative institutions

Many of the extensive archival resources relating to these institutions have also been identified and examined by the Project, and Bloomsbury’s developing streets and squares have been mapped and described

This website is a gateway to the information gathered and edited by Project members during the Project’s lifetime, 1 October 2007–30 April 2011, with the co-operation of Bloomsbury’s institutions, societies, and local residents

Emma Brownlow King, née Emma Brownlow (1832–1905)

a summary of her Bloomsbury connections

She was one of the three daughters of former Foundling and long-time Foundling Hospital Secretary, John Brownlow, and his wife Johanna Parker

Known as Emma Brownlow King after her marriage to the singer Donald King in 1867, she was commissioned as a young woman to paint four pictures for the Foundling Hospital, illustrating life at the institution

The paintings were ‘The Foundling restored to its Mother’ (1858), ‘The Christening’ (1863), ‘The Sick Room’ (1864), and ‘Taking Leave’ (1868); they now hang in the Foundling Museum (opens in new window)

Illustration by Emma Brownlow King, from John Brownlow, History and Objects of the Foundling Hospital, 3rd edn (1865)

It was not the first marriage for Donald King, about twenty years her senior, whose life had been beset by financial and personal disasters; he appeared in insolvency court in 1853, blaming the increasing expenses of his large family and the diminishing income from his singing career, in particular the opening of an Italian opera at the Covent Garden Theatre (The Times, 7 February 1853, 1 March 1853)

He was a widower with a large family by the time of the 1861 census, when he was living at no. 1 Lansdowne Place with six of his children, sons Conrad (aged 10), William (aged 9), and James (aged 3), and daughters Janet (aged 18), Louisa (aged 14), and Sarah Anne (aged 6)

The census was taken in April; missing from its list of children is his daughter Sophia (aged 15) who died in May 1861 (The Times, 30 October 1861); his son James, mentioned in the census, also died in October of the same year (The Times, 30 October 1861), while his eldest son, Thomas, died of cholera in Bombay the following year (The Times, 27 November 1862)

Emma Brownlow herself was living at 11 Heathcote Street with her father, John, her mother, Johanna, and younger sister, Mary at the time of the 1841 census; by the time of the 1851 census, the household had moved to 1 Henrietta Street and included Emma’s older sister, Johanna, instead of Mary

By the time of the 1871 census Emma had married Donald King and they had moved to 48 Woburn Place with six of his children (three daughters and three sons) and the three children they had had together, all daughters, the youngest two being twins born within the last year

At the same time, Emma’s unmarried sister Johanna was a visitor at the house of Louis H. Sheppeard, artist, at 100 Guilford Street

By 1881 the Brownlow Kings had moved out of Bloomsbury to Willesden with one of Emma’s stepdaughters, her three daughters, a younger son, John, and her now-widowed mother

Emma died in 1905

For more details of Emma Brownlow King’s painting career, see Pamela Gerrish Nunn, Victorian Women Artists (1987)

This page last modified 19 April, 2011 by Deborah Colville


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