Alan Carroll’s recent mention of print rooms reminded me of the scrap screen created by Jane Carlyle at Carlyle’s House in Cheyne Row, London. Jane was the wife of the Victorian critic and historian Thomas Carlyle, but she was also a lively intellectual in her own right.
The prints on the screen seem to be mainly of famous places, famous works of art and famous people – perhaps an echo of Thomas’s interest in ‘great men’ as expressed in his later book On Heroes, Hero-Worship, and the Heroic in History.
Thomas and Jane Carlyle moved to London in 1834 and settled in then unfashionable Chelsea, where they would remain for the rest of their lives.
The Carlyles received many of the leading lights of the day at their house, including Dickens, Tennyson, Browning, Thackeray, Ruskin and Darwin.
The Carlyles’ marriage was often difficult, although they retained an affection for one another.
Thomas Carlyle was an important nineteenth-century thinker who criticised the then commonplace worship of progress, although his nihilism made him an isolated figure. Jane is regarded as one of the most witty and observant letter writers in the English language.
The house and its contents, including the Carlyles’ furniture, books, portraits and personal relics were given to the National Trust by the Carlyle’s House Memorial Trust in 1936.