Zenobia Ellrington was a significant figure in the Brontës’ early writing and as a strong, intellectual woman, she was a forerunner of the great Brontë heroines to come.

The drawing is also interesting for its connection with the Countess of Blessington, whose portrait is believed to have provided the model. Certainly Lady Blessington’s literary career and private life accord well with Zenobia’s role in the early writings, and Charlotte would also have been aware of her friendship with Lord Byron, whose influence on the writings of all four Brontë siblings cannot be overestimated. Although Charlotte is famous for her writing rather than her drawing, she did consider a career as a visual artist at one time.


Margaret Illingworth; purchased at Dawson’s of Pall Mall, late 1960s; private collection; by descent; through Bloomsbury auctions.

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