Enfilade

New Book | Mrs Delany: A Life

Posted in books by Editor on December 28, 2019

From Yale UP:

Clarissa Campbell Orr, Mrs Delany: A Life (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2019), 448 pages, ISBN: 978-0300161137, $38.

The first comprehensive biography of Mary Granville Delany—the artist and court insider whose flower collages, in particular, continue to inspire widespread admiration

Mrs Delany is best remembered for her captivating paper collages of flowers, but her artistic flourishing came late in life. This nuanced, deeply researched biography pulls back the lens to place Delany’s art in the broader context of her family life, relationships with royalty, and her endeavor to live as an independent woman. Clarissa Campbell Orr, a noted authority on the eighteenth-century court, charts Mary Delany’s development from a young woman at the heart of elite circles to beloved godmother and celebrated collagist. Orr traces the varied connections Mary Delany fostered throughout her life and which influenced her intellectual and artistic development: she was friends with prominent figures such as Methodist leader, John Wesley, composer G. F. Handel, the writer Jonathan Swift, and England’s leading patron of science, Margaret Bentinck, Duchess of Portland. Mrs Delany reveals its subject to be far more than a widow befriended by George III and Queen Charlotte; she is, instead, restored to her proper place in the era’s aristocratic society—and as a ground-breaking artist.

Clarissa Campbell Orr is the author of, or editor and contributor to, numerous essays and anthologies, including Queenship in Europe 1650–1789 and Queenship in Britain 1660–1837. She was a Visiting Research Fellow at St Mary’s University Twickenham from 2016 to 2018 after a long career at Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge.

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