The personal papers of Anna Eliza Bray, novelist, comprising correspondence, manuscripts, printed books and miscellaneous items. Includes 'Mrs Southey's Narrative', an autobiographical account of Caroline Southey's engagement and marriage to Robert Southey, which also describes his children's reaction to their relationship (reference Bray 2/4).
Papers of Anna Eliza Bray (1790-1883)
Scope and Content
Administrative / Biographical History
Anna Eliza Bray (formerly Stothard, née Kempe) was an author of historical novels and West Country legend and folklore, as well as travel writings and biographies of several notable figures. She was born on 25th December 1790 in Newington, Surrey and died on 21st January 1883 in London.
She was first married to antiquarian draughtsman Charles Alfred Stothard in February 1818 (a son of the artist Thomas Stothard, R.A), who died on 27th May 1821, falling from a ladder in Bere Ferrers Church in Devon while making a drawing of the stained glass window. She subsequently endeavoured to bring his incomplete work, The Monumental Effigies of Great Britain, to publication, along with his memoirs. A few years later, she married the vicar of Tavistock Church, Rev. Edward Atkyns Bray, and moved to Devon. This is where she achieved most of her popular works, including 'The Borders of the Tamar and the Tavy', a descriptive account of the history, customs and folklore of West Devon, as set out in letters to Robert Southey, and a well-received 10-volume set of historical romance novels. After her husband's death in 1857, she moved back to London and continued to write well into the 1870s, as well as editing and publishing her late husband's poems and sermons.
Mrs Bray was closely acquainted with many great figures from the literary and artistic worlds of her day, most notably her father-in-law, the Royal Academy artist Thomas Stothard, and the Poet Laureate Robert Southey, his second wife Caroline and two of Southey's children, Charles Cuthbert Southey and Edith May Warter who lived in West Tarring, West Sussex, with her husband Rev. John Wood Warter. She corresponded with the celebrated Regency poet Letitia Elizabeth Landon and the Romantic poet and novelist Amelia Opie; she had her work published by John Murray, and was also acquainted with John Hawkins (geologist), Samuel Lysons (antiquary), Sir Walter Scott, Barron Field, Samuel Rogers and Derwent Coleridge, the third son of the Romantic poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge. She was tutored at a young age in drawing by the distinguished artist George Stubbs, a lifelong friend of her father and grandfather. Her brother, Alfred John Kempe, was an antiquarian and fellow of the Society of Antiquaries.
The collection is arranged as follows:
- 1 Correspondence
- 1/1 Landon family
- 1/2 Warter family
- 1/3 Southey family
- 1/4 Kempe family
- 1/5 Miscellaneous correspondence
- 2 Manuscripts
- 3 Printed books
- 4 Miscellaneous items
For information on visiting the archive please see Location and Opening Hours on our Website, which also gives information about reader tickets and using the search room.
Presented by Mr E M Kempe of Norwich, Norfolk, November 2000.
Other Finding Aids
The full collection is catalogued and can be consulted using West Sussex Record Office's Search Online facility. A hard copy catalogue is available in the searchroom.
The correspondence was originally organised in bundles but these had no order or chronology; the bundles were re-organised in 2015 for the purposes of cataloguing and for ease of use. However, a list of the original bundles was recorded and is kept in the Bray accession file at West Sussex Record Office (Accession 12182).