Record

CodeNA7111
Dates1801-1866
Person NameCarlyle; Jane Baillie Welsh (1801-1866); Mrs; wife of Thomas Carlyle
SurnameCarlyle
ForenamesJane Baillie Welsh
TitleMrs
Epithetwife of Thomas Carlyle
ActivityShe was the only child of her parents, who owned the farm of Craigenputtock. From her infancy she was remarkably bright and self-willed. She insisted on learning Latin, and was sent to Haddington School. Irving came there as a master, lived in her father's house, and introduced her to Virgil. On her tenth birthday she burnt her doll on a funeral pyre, after the model of Dido; at fourteen she wrote a tragedy, and continued for many years to write poetry. Her father, the only person who had real influence with her, died of typhus fever in September 1819, and her health suffered from the blow for years. She continued to live with her mother, to whom her father had left a sufficient income, and became known from her wit and beauty as 'the flower of Haddington.'
She married Thoasm Carlyle in 1826 and lived in Edinburgh, Craigenputtock and London. Their married life was dogged by poverty and Carlyle's inability to earn a living by his literary endeavours.
Eventually the Carlyles settled in Chelsea, London where Carlyle's appearances in society were fitful, and during his absorption in his chief works Mrs. Carlyle was left to a very solitary life, though she read and criticised his performances as they were completed.
She gradually formed a circle of friends of her own. Miss Geraldine Jewsbury, attracted by Carlyle's fame, made their acquaintance in 1841, and became Mrs. Carlyle's most intimate friend. Refugees, including Mazzini and Cavaignac (brother of the general), came to the house. Lord Tennyson, much loved by both, and Arthur Helps, who got on better with Mrs. Carlyle than with her husband, were other friends. John Forster, Macready, Dickens, and Thackeray are also occasionally mentioned.
Mrs Carlyle died unexpectedly in 1866, although her health had not been strong for some time.
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