Knowles of Englefield Green

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This collection of early-19th century works came to us bearing the inscription ‘Anna Knowles, Englefield Green, 24 June 1810’. The Knowles family appears to have been entrenched in Englefield Green in Surrey for some generations, and had interesting connections with the satirical writer Thomas Love Peacock, and by extension, Percy Bysshe Shelley, who was a close confidante of Peacock’s.

The majority of the works in the collection appear to be by the hand of Anna herself, who was born in 1790 and married one of Peacock’s schoolmates, Joseph Gulston, in 1809. One painting, interestingly, is by the hand of Anna’s sister Cecilia – who, it has recently been discovered, was the famous author of at least ten popular books, such as ‘Miss Alymer' and ‘The Smiths: A Novel’, published anonymously in the first half of the century. Her most well known work - the three volume 'Wedlock: Or Yesterday and Today' - provides a detailed account of her relationship with Thomas Love Peacock, who supposedly proposed to her at one point, and of their joint interactions with Shelley.