Buried: St Mary the Virgin, Church Close, Henbury, Bristol, BS10 7QF
Amelia Blandford Edwards (1831-1892) was a novelist, explorer, travel writer and scholar. She co-founded the Egypt Exploration Fund. John Addington Symonds dedicated his poetry collection “Old and New” to Edwards. Symonds shared many poetic works with Edwards, and his poem “To a Friend Leaving England in September” is originally dedicated “To A.B.E.” Discussing the collaboration on “Sexual Inversion,” Symonds told Havelock Ellis that Edwards “made no secret to me of her Lesbian tendencies”, and formed a menage with an “English lady” and her clergyman/school inspector husband. “Miss Edwards told me that one day the husband married her to his wife at the altar of his church – having full knowledge of the state of affairs.” These were probably Mr and Mrs Byrne – a clergyman and his wife, whose departure from the area was “like a death-blow” to Edwards. Local census records show Ellen Gertrude Byrne living at 7 Cambridge Park, with her husband John Rice Byrne, a clergyman and school inspector. Among Edwards’ close friends and companions was Symonds’ sister-in-law, the artist and traveller Marianne North. The pair were frequent correspondents, and some of Edwards’ letters apparently ardent enough for North to respond “What love letters you do write, what a pity you waste them on a woman!” The two remained close friends for several decades, sharing news of North’s travels and Edwards’ literary career. Edwards is buried together with Ellen Drew Braysher (1804–1892), with whom she shared a home at The Larches for the last three decades of ther life; the house was destroyed by bombing in 1941, although its site is marked by a stone plaque on the front garden wall of 22 Eastfield, Westbury-on-Trym, which occupies part of the site. Braysher’s daughter had been buried in the same grave twenty-eight years earlier at St Mary the Virgin (Church Close, Henbury, Bristol, BS10 7QF), and on Edwards’ death the grave was covered with a large Egyptian ankh.
Queer Places, Vol. 2 edited by Elisa Rolle
Release Date: July 24, 2016
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