Jane Welsh Carlyle


Biography of Jane Welsh Carlyle

Jane Welsh Carlyle (14 January 1801 – 21 April 1866, née Jane Baillie Welsh in Haddington Scotland) was the wife of essayist Thomas Carlyle and has been cited as the reason for his fame and fortune. She was most notable as a letter-writer. In 1973, G.B. Tennyson described her as

“ One of the rare Victorian wives who are of literary interest in their own right...to be remembered as one of the great letter writers (in some respects her husband’s superior) of the nineteenth century is glory beyond the dreams of avarice.”

She had been introduced to Carlyle by her tutor Edward Irving, with whom she came to have a mutual romantic (although not sexually intimate) attraction.

The couple married in 1826, but the marriage was at times unhappy. Their voluminous correspondence has been published, and the letters show that the couple had an affection for one another that was marred by frequent quarrels. Samuel Butler once wrote: "It was very good of God to let Carlyle and Mrs Carlyle marry one another, and so make only two people miserable and not four". Carlyle's biographer James Anthony Froude published (posthumously) his opinion that the marriage remained unconsummated.

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