Finding Number (Click this to view full catalogue structure)HM/428-441
TitleAutograph letters, signed from Sara Hennell
Extent19 items
Access StatusOpen
Administrative HistoryHennell, Sara Sophia (1812–1899), author, the seventh and penultimate child of James Hennell (1782–1816), traveller and partner in the mercantile firm of Fazy & Co. (Manchester), and Elizabeth Marshall (1778–1858), of Loughborough, Leicestershire, was born on 23 November 1812 at 2 St Thomas's Square, Hackney, Middlesex. Her sisters included Mary Hennell and Caroline Bray. On her father's death the family moved to 5 Pleasant Row, moving again in 1826 to 7 Hackney Terrace. The girls of this close-knit family, thought to have provided the original upon which the Meyrick family of George Eliot's Daniel Deronda (1876) was modelled, were educated at home where Sara learned German, Latin, music, and painting and drawing. The family worshipped at Robert Aspland's Unitarian congregation at Gravel Pit Chapel, Hackney, though Sara Hennell was to repudiate Unitarianism as taking too little account of the darker side of human nature.

When her brother Charles Christian Hennell married ‘Rufa’ Brabant in 1843 Sara Hennell and her mother moved to Clapton, near Hackney. In 1851 they moved to Ivy Cottage, St Nicholas Street, Coventry, next door to Rosehill, the home of her younger sister ‘Cara’ and her husband, the freethinker Charles Bray. By 1855 she had become governess to Charles Bray's adopted, illegitimate daughter and her nephew, Frank Hennell.

Information from Oxford DNB, from their website July 2014.


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