Later Victorian Portraits Catalogue
Barbara Leigh Smith Bodichon (1827-1891), Artist and women's rights activist; benefactor of Girton College, Cambridge
Bodichon wrote in 1857:
I am one of the cracked people of the world, and I like to herd with the cracked such as A.M.H. [Anna Mary Howitt] and B.R.P. [Bessie Raynor Parkes (Mrs Louis Belloc)], queer Americans, democrats, socialists, artists, poor devils or angels; and am never happy in an English genteel family life. I try to do it like other people but I long always to be off on some wild adventure, or long to lecture on a tub in St. Giles, or go to see the Mormons, or ride off into the interior on horseback alone and leave the world for a month … I want to see what sort of world this God’s world is. 
Friendship with Anna Mary Howitt led to contacts with the Pre-Raphaelites. In 1853 Dante Gabriel Rossetti wrote of Bodichon to Christina Rossetti: ‘Ah! if you were only like Miss Barbara Smith, a young lady I meet at the Howitts’, blessed with large rations of tin [money], fat, enthusiasm, & golden hair, who thinks nothing of climbing up a mountain in breeches or wading through a stream in none, in the sacred name of pigment.’ 
William Michael Rossetti wrote:
Through the Howitts I became acquainted with Miss Barbara Leigh Smith, afterwards Mrs. Bodichon, a lady of handsome fortune for whom I entertained and have always preserved the most cordial regard. She was indeed one of the most excellent women I have ever known: lavish in beneficence, untiring in her exertions for the advancement of her sex. She was a great promoter, perhaps the foundress, of Girton College. […] Her manner was replete with energy and heartiness: no woman could be freer from those small femininities which make for affectation. To be frank, straightforward, unprejudiced, generous minded, was a passport to her esteem; there was none other. 
Footnotesback to top
1) Letter from Barbara Smith to Dorothy Longden, 1857, Bonham-Carter family Papers, Hampshire Record Office, Winchester, cited Herstein 1985, p.21.
2) Letter from D.G. Rossetti to C. Rossetti, [8 Nov. 1853], Fredeman 2002–10, vol.1, 2002, letter 53:57, p.294.
3) Rossetti 1906, pp.171–2.
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