ISABEL DE STEIGER (1836-1927).  My life-by-dates continues with the period January 1885 to 22 February 1888, the day Isabel’s best-beloved friend - the occultist Anna Bonus Kingsford - died.

This particular update: September 2017



Just re-stating the Golden Dawn connection:

Isabel de Steiger was one of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn’s earliest members, being initiated at its Isis-Urania temple in London in October 1888 - that is, a few months after the last event in this file.  She chose the Latin motto ‘Altiora peto’.  She took her time over the learning and exams required for the GD’s inner, 2nd Order and was initiated into it in May 1896.  She moved out of London in the early 1890s and was a member of the GD’s Horus temple in Bradford for a time; and then (in the late 1890s) of its Amen-Ra temple in Edinburgh.


THE LAYOUT BELOW which I hope isn’t too difficult to read.

What Isabel was doing, tends to be in italics.  My comments, and the sources, are typed in my usual Times New Roman.


Lastly, before we start, a quick note on her name: she was baptised with it spelled in the French way - Isabelle - and did return to that spelling from time to time in her life.  For most of her life, however, she used ‘Isabel’ and I’ll stick with that.




Isabel knew another of the first women to practice medicine in England.  As well as being a friend of Dr Kingsford, through the British National Association of Spiritualists she also knew Arabella Kenealy.  It was Dr Kenealy that diagnosed Kingsford as suffering from TB.

Source for Dr Kenealy’s diagnosis: Memorabilia p168.  Isabel says that Dr Kenealy told her of Kingsford’s illness; and that it would be fatal.  This was, apparently, two years before Dr Kingsford actually died.

Comment by Sally Davis: Isabel would scarcely have needed telling that TB killed you but perhaps Dr Kenealy didn’t know how Isabel’s husband had died.  Being told of the diagnosis by Dr Kenealy of course, was a breach of medical confidentiality but perhaps Dr Kenealy felt that someone should know Dr Kingsford’s condition who might be able to help her when she became seriously ill; and that Dr Kingsford was not likely to tell anyone herself.


Arabella Kenealy LRCP was the daughter of barrister and MP Edward Vaughan Kenealy.  She was quite a lot younger than Isabel, being born in 1859.  She studied medicine at the London School of Medicine for Women and worked in general practice in London and Watford from 1888 to 1894.  In 1894, however, she suffered such a severe attack of diphtheria that she was unable to work in medicine again.  She turned instead to writing, publishing magazine articles and books on medicine; and some novels.  Later in life she listed as one of her recreations the study of race improvement; so she and Isabel shared an interest in eugenics. 

Source: Who Was Who volume 3 p743 although not for the year of her birth, which I got from freebmd.



Anna Bonus Kingsford and Edward Maitland’s The Virgin of the World... was published - a book of translations of works allegedly by Hermes Trismegistus.

Comment by Sally Davis: although she doesn’t mention this book in Memorabilia, Isabel will have been involved with the work-in-progress, as she had been with other publications by Anna Bonus Kingsford.  Her painting A Legend of the Soul... (exhibited autumn 1887) was an illustration of Kore kosmou, the first of Kingsford and Maitland’s translations.


The Hermetic Works.  The Virgin of the World.... translated into English with essays, introduction and notes by Dr Anna Bonus Kingsford and Edward Maitland.  London: George Redway 1885.

It’s reproduced at as

The Hermetic Works of the Virgin of the World of Hermes Mercurius Trismegistus translated, and with introductions and notes by Dr Anna Kingsford and Edward Maitland, authors of The Perfect Way.  1885 Bath: Bath Occult Reprint Series, run by Robert H Fryar who also does an introduction to the book. 

Date of publication: there was no advert in the Times announcing this book.  However in the New Books column, Times Wednesday 13 May 1995 p12 George Redway had a one-line advert announcing that its new list was available.  Perhaps The Virgin of the World was on that list.



Isabel showed two paintings at the Nineteenth Century Art Society’s exhibition in their galleries in Conduit Street: a painting just described as Portrait; and The Sorceress which might be a renaming of The Enchantress. 


The Saturday Review of Politics, Literature, Science and Art published by J W Parker and Son.  Volume 60 1885 p612: exhibition review.  Catalogue number 28 - Portrait; catalogue number 172 - The Sorceress.

Comment by Sally Davis: the Saturday Review’s reporter had been hard-put to find any paintings in this show that deserved “more than a shuddering glance”!  He or she did single out Isabel’s paintings from the mass, as at least possessing some merit; although he or she thought Isabel’s treatment of The Sorceress’s flesh was “hard and crude” and that the painting as a whole was “full of ill-distributed accents”. 



Isabel exhibited her painting The Enchantress for the second or third time, at the Royal Hibernian Academy in Dublin.

Source for its being shown this year:

Royal Hibernian Academy of Arts: Index of Exhibitors 1826-1979 compiled by Ann M Stewart.  Volume 1: A-G.  Dublin: Manton Publishing 1986.  On p210 as de Steiger, Mme Isabel.  The Enchantress was catalogue number £98, price £100.

Comment by Sally Davis: £100 was the price Isabel had been asking for The Enchantress when she had showed it in Liverpool in 1883.  It hadn’t sold then, but it might have been sold on this second outing in Ireland (see entries for November 1897).



The Hermetic Society held its annual series of lectures.  Isabel didn’t give any of the lectures but she probably went to most if not all of the meetings.  Admittance was by visitor’s card.

Source: Light: A Journal of Psychical, Occult and Mystical Research.  Published London: Eclectic Publishing Co Ltd of 2 Duke St Adelphi.  Volume 5 which covers all the talks at the Hermetic Society that spring; although it doesn’t give any guests lists: p224 for the announcement; pp353-54 for Isabel’s letter. 

Comment by Sally: Light volume 5 also covers a dispute between the Hermetic Society and Dr G Wyld, in which Dr Wyld was claiming that the Bible was not an esoteric document.  Isabel wrote in to Light on the side of the Hermetic Society, saying that in her view, Dr Wyld’s argument was “untenable”.


3 JUNE 1885

Isabel’s nephew Charles Verney Lace (son of her dead brother Joshua Verney Lovett Lace) married Cécile Marguérite Forget, daughter of Isabel’s husband’s first employer in Liverpool.

Source: freebmd.

Also via to the Morning Post issues of 19 March 1885 and 6 June 1885: announcement of the engagement and then of the marriage at St Matthew and St James Moscley Hill.

Comment by Sally Davis: surely Isabel went to this wedding.  Just noting here that the Morning Post was a national, not a local newspaper; and it was a very Conservative and conservative paper.


SAID BY ISABEL TO BE 1885 BUT POSSIBLY 1886                  

Isabel returned to Brittany for the summer, and then went to Paris, where she saw an exhibition of Impressionist paintings.  She wasn’t impressed: she described the style as an “illness”.

Source: Memorabilia p287, p290.

Comment by Sally: there’s definitely a problem with Isabel’s recollections here:

Website gives accounts of all 8 impressionist exhibitions; and there are discussions on wikipedia pages and elsewhere of some of the paintings exhibited at them.  The 7th impressionist exhibition was held in March 1882; then four years passed before the 8th one, held at 1 rue Lafitte from May-June 1886.  Neither of those dates fits Isabel’s recollection so either she has got the date wrong and means 1886; or she didn’t mean either of those exhibitions, but some other show involving impressionist works.



Once again Isabel was an exhibitor at the Walker Art Gallery’s autumn exhibition.  She showed just the one work, this year: “Trust her not, she is fooling thee”.


15th Liverpool Autumn Exhibition of Modern Pictures 1885.  List of exhibitors p124.  List of exhibits p75 catalogue number 1254 - “Trust her not, she is fooling thee” (Isabel’s quote marks), price £10.              

Comment by Sally Davis: I don’t know why the title is in quotes.  Assuming it to be taken from a poem, I searched for the words on the web but didn’t get any useful responses.



Isabel lived at 3 Woodstock Road Bedford Park, Chiswick.  The house didn’t have a studio and after three years she decided she couldn’t afford to pay rent on two addresses; so she moved out of Bedford Park, back into town.

Source: Memorabilia p168, p80.

Comment by Sally Davis: several other future GD members were living in Bedford Park by the late 1880s: John and Frances Brodie-Innes, Henry and Henrietta Paget, John Todhunter and the Yeats family.  I’m assuming that when she moved out of Woodstock Road, she also gave up the studio at Avonmore Road.



Isabel showed two works at the summer exhibition of the Nineteenth Century Art Society.  Both works were in oils: Strada Tiberio Capri; and Villa Pompeiana.


Nineteenth Century Art Society Exhibition Catalogue Summer 1886: p3 for their whereabouts, in the large gallery which was all oil paintings; p22 for Strada Tiberio Capri, catalogue number 224, for sale at £6/6; and p24 for Villa Pompeiana, catalogue number 253, priced £7/7.

Comment by Sally Davis: it’s most likely that the two paintings were landscapes, but given Isabel’s enthusiasm for Alma Tadema, they may have focused on ruined pieces of Roman architecture.   



Isabel also had two oil paintings with figures in, in the Nineteenth Century Art Society autumn exhibition: an Odalisque, Cairo; and A Lonely Beggar in a Lonely Road, Capri.

Comment by Sally Davis, at May 2017: I still haven’t been able to date Isabel’s trip or trips to Capri.


Nineteenth Century Art Society Exhibition Catalogue Autumn 1886; p3 for where Isabel’s paintings were hung - the large gallery again.  P13 for An Odalisque: Cairo, catalogue number 112 price £8/8.  P21 for A Lonely Beggar... catalogue number 204, for sale at £12/12.

And just confirming from the catalogue’s p49 that Isabel was a member of the Society, at least at this stage.  I haven’t been able to find out how long the Society lasted.



Isabel was invited to attend some of Lady Wilde’s famous Saturday afternoons.  She met Oscar Wilde at one of them but didn’t really take to Lady Wilde’s social circle.  She also fell out with Lady Wilde when she refused Lady Wilde’s request to arrange a seance in her house.  Isabel was giving her own “studio receptions” at the time at her studio in Avonmore Road; which included seances. 

Source: Memorabilia p81, p85-86, p107 but Isabel seems to associate it with the 1870s which can’t be right.

Comment by Sally on how Isabel and Lady Wilde met: in Memorabilia Isabel mentions knowing Lady Wilde’s elder son Willie, who was interested in theosophy.  It was most likely Willie who invited her.

Comments by Sally on Isabel and the Wilde family: perhaps Isabel saw Lady Wilde’s Saturdays as a rival to her own receptions.  I’ve been able to tie Isabel and Lady Wilde down to the late 1880s through a work by another GD member, Anna de Brémont.  de Brémont’s Oscar Wilde and His Mother was published in London by Everett and Co Ltd 1911.  On p42: when Anna arrived in London in mid-1886 Lady Wilde was still living in Mayfair.  P57 Lady Wilde moved to Oakley St Chelsea soon after Anna began to write (which was about 1887/88).  Isabel says that when she was going to Lady Wilde’s Saturdays, they were in Chelsea; so she can’t have been invited before 1887.

It’s likely that it was through Lady Wilde that Isabel met the public raconteur Romola Tynte, whose portrait she painted in 1887 (see below).



Isabel showed two works at this year’s autumn exhibition at the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool: The Valkyrie Maidens (for the fifth and last time); and The Lost Pleiad.


16th Liverpool Autumn Exhibition of Modern Pictures 1886.  List of exhibitors p115.  List of exhibits: p12 catalogue number 93 “The Valkyrie Maidens (vide Robert Buchanan’s Poem)” (my quotes), price £47/10; and p65 catalogue number 1071 - “The Lost Pleiad.  Blind Merope - Hope Abandoned.  Vide Edwin Arnold” (again my quotes), price £31/10.  Both were oil paintings.


Comments by Sally Davis: firstly on the Valkyrie painting’s last outing.  It was quite usual for Isabel to vary the title slightly when showing a painting that had been exhibited before; so by September 1886, the Valkyrie painting’s title had gone through five slight variations.  I’m sure she was hoping that regular art-gallery visitors would think they were seeing a new painting rather than one they might have looked at before. 

This, the title included mention of the work that must have inspired it.   

Sources for Robert Williams Buchanan 1841-1901: there’s a wiki on him with a list of some of his works.   Though these lines were not published until 1885, after the painting must have been finished, Isabel obviously thought they gave a flavour of what she was trying to portray:

Like Valkyries heavenly-eyed

From the storm-cloud trooping forth

They appear in Buchanan’s The Earthquake.  At you can see the full text of the poem, The Earthquake; Or Six Days and a Sabbath published Chatto and Windus 1885.

Comment by Sally Davis on The Lost Pleiad: Isabel had taken her inspiration this time from Sir Edwin Arnold’s The Lost Pleiad: A Story of the Stars - you can read the full text at  Isabel would have met Arnold in the mid-1880s at the Sinnetts’ Sunday evening receptions, but she probably his poetry many years before: The Economist 1856 p538 issue of 17 May 1856 had a review of The Lost Pleiad, as one of Arnold’s anthology Griselda and Other Poems, published in London by Bogue. 

I haven’t found many reviews of Isabel’s exhibited paintings on the web, but it so happens that both the paintings at this year’s Walker Art Gallery exhibition did get mentioned in a Liverpool newspaper:

Via genesreunited to Liverpool Mercury 1 November 1886: The Lost Pleiad was mentioned in the Art Notes column.  And also via genesreunited to an issue of Liverpool Mercury from a few weeks later, 18 November 1886, which had comments on both the Valkyrie Maidens and The Lost Pleiad. The Mercury’s critic described The Lost Pleiad as “very fanciful in design”.  I’m not sure whether that is a compliment!

Via google to The Pall Mall Budget which was a weekly selection of articles previously published in the Pall Mall Gazette.  Pall Mall Budget volume 33 described by google as 1885 but surely 1886: p83 singled out The Lost Pleiad for praise, in a review of the Walker Art Gallery autumn exhibition, describing it as “the only attempt in the direction of imaginative art in the gallery”. 


Just noting here that not all references to The Lost Pleiad mean the painting by Isabel: I noticed the Liverpool Mercury of 10 October 1887 referring to a painting with the same name by William Padgett; catalogue number 266 at the Walker Art Gallery that year.



Helena Petrovna Blavatsky settled permanently in London.

Information from: Helena Petrovna Blavatsky introduced and edited by Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke.  Berkeley California: North Atlantic Books 2004; p14.

A more specific date found at which says she arrived in England from Europe on 1 May 1887, having been invited by members of Blavatsky Lodge.



Isabel may have done a portrait of Helena Petrovna Blavatsky.  When the painting was for sale at a French auction house in 2001 or 2002, it was tentatively entitled ‘Portrait of Madame Blavatska’.

Comment by Sally Davis: I’m rather cautious about seeing the painting as a portrait of Blavatsky; and so was the French auction house.  There’s no doubt that the painting sold in 2001 and/or 2002 was done by Isabel in 1887: the 2001 catalogue details noted that her signature and the year were in the bottom right hand corner.  The person (or entity) depicted bears no resemblance whatever to the well-known photographs of Blavatksy in later life.  Perhaps Isabel was painting her subject as she would have been in her youth; or even painting Blavatsky’s soul rather than her body. In Memorabilia Isabel doesn’t mention having painted Blavatsky’s portrait; but hardly any of her paintings are mentioned in it. 


Sources for the 1887 painting sold in 2001 and/or 2002.

The painting in question can be seen, though not well, at; and on Pinterest.  There are more details of it at which describes isabel as a “peintre orientaliste”; and at where Isabel is said to be German.  According to both these websites, the painting was in an auction at Beaussant-Lefèvre Paris.  The French website gives the date of the sale as 2001 while auctionclub says it was 2002.  The painting could have been for sale twice in quick succession after not having met its reserve price the first time.


A list of paintings exhibited by Isabel in 1887.  Perhaps the ‘madame Blavatska’ is actually one of these:

1887                The Fairy Syren (sic) of the Water Lilies      

1887                Harmonia                               

1887                A Legend of the Soul...          

1887                Portrait of Romola Tynte                                The second of two showings

1887                The Rock Syren (sic) Singing the Storm Song

1887                Head of Beatrice

I don’t think it’s very likely that it’s one of the two ‘syren’ paintings; and Isabel’s long sub-title for what’s going on in her Legend of the Soul painting makes that one an unlikely candidate.  If it is not a previously unknown portrait by Isabel of Helena Petrovna Blavatsky; and if it was exhibited and not just given to the sitter, whoever that was, the two most promising paintings are: Harmonia; and Head of Beatrice.                              



Isabel’s portrait of Romola Tynte was shown at the Royal Hibernian Academy of Arts in Dublin.


Royal Hibernian Academy of Arts: Index of Exhibitors 1826-1979 compiled by Ann M Stewart.  Volume 1: A-G.  Dublin: Manton Publishing 1986.  On p210 as de Steiger, Mme Isabel.  Catalogue number 296; not for sale.

Comments by Sally Davis: Romola Tynte was the professional name of Mary Magill Tynte Potter (1852-1913), daughter of the Rev Samuel George Potter and distant cousin of Isabel’s hostess acquaintance Lady Wilde.  For a few years from about 1886 to the mid-1890s, Romola Tynte was known as a reciter of stories, sketches and extracts from plays, on the social circuit in private houses in Ireland, England and the USA.  She was helped to establish herself in this role by both Lady Wilde and Oscar Wilde, especially when she went to America.  Later she went to work for the Women’s Franchise League as assistant to Elizabeth Wolstenholme Elmy. 


I think Isabel met Romola Tynte through the Wilde family, probably at one of Lady Wilde’s Saturday afternoons.  Perhaps the portrait was commissioned as part of the Wildes’ efforts to establish Romola’s public career.  When Isabel exhibited the painting it was not for sale.  As it was most likely done as a favour to Lady Wilde, she probably gave it either to Lady Wilde or to Romola herself.


Sources for Romola Tynte:

For the mutual friend Jane, Lady Wilde, see her wiki.


At freepages.genealogy.rootsweb, a transcription of Fifty Years of Sheffield Church Life 1866-1916 by Rev Canon W Odom.  Rev S G Potter appears in Chapter VI: well-known churchmen Odom had known personally; as vicar of St Luke’s Hollis Croft from 1869; as one who revelled in controversy; and as an Orangeman whose parish was mostly occupied by Roman Catholics.

At a few copies of a pamphlet: Church and State: Controversy Between Rev S G Potter and...”Pastor Gordon”.  In 14 Letters.  1874 in London, Manchester and Sheffield.  Pastor Gordon is John Henry Gordon. 

Marriage of Mary’s parents: at, Cookstown marriage announcements taken from the local parish registers; the Strabane Morning Post; the Londonderry Sentinel; and the Londonderry Standard.  In the list published one of those papers on 11 October 1845: marriage of Rev Samuel George Potter of Cushenden county Antrim to Elizabeth daughter of Samuel Rankin Magill Esq JP of Cookstown.  S G Potter described as the eldest son of Samuel Potter of Springfield county Donegal. 

Rev S G Potter and his family are on the census for 1871 at an address I couldn’t read fully, in the

St George district of Sheffield; a household where all excecpt the servants had been born in Ireland.

Romola Tynte, raconteur:

Dublin Daily Express 12 May 1887: coverage of her farewell recital, under the patronage of Prince and Princess Edward of Saxe-Weimar. 

A [Gerard Manley] Hopkins Chronology by John McDermott.  London: Macmillan 1997 p113 text and footnote.  On 25th [April 1887] Hopkins went to Mrs More Madden’s house to see Romola Tynte recite.  She had been wearing a dress designed by Oscar Wilde.  On 27th [April 1887] he went to the Antient Concert Rooms to see her farewell recital. On 1 May [1887] Hopkins told a contact that Romola was “a beautiful Sappho”.

Comment by Sally Davis: does Hopkins think she is a lesbian? Or just a poet?.


At ebay and on google there was a picture of Romola Tynte in profile, originally on the front page of The Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News volume 39 number 770 issue of 25 August 1888. 

Not dated but probably from 1891-92: at, in a sale held in New York in December 2009: an autographed letter of introduction, addressed by Oscar Wilde to James B Pond, introducing Romola to Pond.  Written on 16 Tyte St headed paper but without a date.  Oscar Wilde describes Romola as having had “great success as a reciter” in England.  The letter was published in the Holland and Hart-Davis Complete Letters of Oscar Wilde p292 with a note explaining that Pond had arranged a lecture tour in the US for Oscar Wilde, in January-March 1882. 

Comment by Sally Davis: during that lecture tour Oscar met future GD member Anna de Brémont who was later a close friend of Lady Wilde and Constance Wilde. 

Seen via google: autograph letter by James C Potter of New York to Romola Tynte, written during 1892 on the headed paper of the Hotel Boswyck.

At the Brooklyn Life of Saturday 3 December 1892 p18 the Social Column.  Mention of a “series of entertainments” on 9 December [1892] at the St George Hotel, starring a Mr McKernan and “another celebrity” Miss Romola Tynte.  It is this profile of Romola Tynte that states her real name and her relationship to the Wilde family.

At //, California Digital Newspaper Collection: Los Angeles Herald volume 42 number 39 issue of 20 May 1894 prints a paragraph on Romola Tynte, even though she doesn’t seem to have visited LA or be about to visit it, saying that her recitals had been “a feature of New York drawing rooms the past season”.  Her “earnest and spirituelle face” had been used by Poynter for his head of Christ in the dome of St Paul’s Cathedral.  She had also been used as a model by Lant, for his Lesbia; by Edwin Long for his Diana or Christ; and by Frank Topham for his picture of Romola.

Comment by Sally Davis on Topham’s Romola: I presume Tophame was illustrating the novel Romola, by George Eliot.


Romola Tynte as a womens’ rights campaigner:

The Women’s Suffrate Movement: New Feminist Perspectives.  Editors Maroula Joannou and June Purvis.  Manchester: Manchester University Press 2009 p21 a mention of Romola as working for the Women’s Franchise League; and it’s October 1890. 

Elizabeth Wolstenholme Elmy and the Victorian Feminist Movement by Maureen Wright.  New York and Manchester: Manchester University Press 2011.  On p143 Wright mentions Romola Tynte giving two recitals in May 1890 to raise funds for the Women’s Franchise League.


Probate Registry 1914 re death of Mary Magill Tynte Potter, spinster, on 30 July 1913 in south Devon.



Isabel showed a work at the Society of Lady Artists for the last time: The First Blossom of Spring: Almond Blossom, Capri, Italy.


The Society of Women Artists Exhibitors 1855-1996 editor Charles Baile de Laperrière, compiled by Joanna Soden.  Hilmarton Manor Press 1996.  Volume 1 A-D p328 as De Steiger, Isabel; painter.  Listing for 1887: catalogue number 267, for sale at £10.  Isabel was still living at 3 Woodstock Road Bedford Park at the time of the exhibition. 

Comment by Sally Davis: there’s no mention of a visit to Capri, in Memorabilia; perhaps Isabel went there with her husband - that is, in the late 1860s or early 1870s. 



Isabel exhibited three paintings at the Nineteenth Century Art Society’s spring exhibition.  Once again, they were all oil paintings: The Fairy Syren (sic) of the Water Lilies, Harmonia, and L’Amour de la Nuit - La Lune - Sur la Terrasse de l’Hotel; Impression du Voyage.


Nineteenth Century Art Society Exhibition Catalogue Spring 1887: p3 for where all three paintings were hung.  P10 for The Fairy Syren..., catalogue number 85, price £10/10; p13 for Harmonia (which I would suppose was a classically-draped female figure), catalogue number 116, and for sale at £90, which I think was the highest price Isabel demanded for a work shown with this particular Society; and p20 for L’Amour de la Nuit..., catalogue number 205, priced at £5/5.



Isabel showed three more works at the Nineteenth Century Art Society in its summer exhibition: Old Court Daventry; The Rock Syren (sic) Singing the Storm Song; and Head of Beatrice.


“19th” Century Art Society Exhibition Catalogue Summer 1887.  P57 for Old Court Daventry, catalogue number 271 for sale at £9/9; p49 The Rock Syren... was a charcoal drawing, catalogue number 539 for sale at £6/6; and p50 for Head of Beatrice, a study in charcoal and red chalk, catalogue number 540, priced £5/5.

Comments by Sally Davis: this catalogue was the last I could find of exhibitions held by the Nineteenth Century Art Society.  If the Society held any more after summer 1887, the catalogues have been lost.

On Head of Beatrice.  Isabel wasn’t really into doing paintings based on characters from Shakespeare, although that was a lucrative area for genre painters.  I suppose, therefore, that Beatrice was a friend or relation, though I haven’t identified any likely sitter as yet (May 2017).

On Old Court Daventry: I take this painting as evidence that Isabel did visit some at least of her relations from time to time, even though they are hardly ever mentioned in Memorabilia and there are no portraits of any of them by Isabel as far as I know.  In 1862 Isabel’s sister Rosamund (or Rosamond) had married Edmund Charles Burton of Daventry.  Burton was a solicitor, and also Town Clerk of Daventry.  On census day 1881 the Burtons were living at 29 High Street Daventry with their son, and their four daughters, none of whom were called Beatrice.  By 1891, Edmund Charles’ father had died and he and Rosamond had moved into the family’s main house, The Lodge Daventry.  When I looked on the web I couldn’t find any evidence of a building called ‘old court’ Daventry.  At a pub called the Old Court House was mentioned, at 23 North Street; perhaps this is the building Isabel painted. 



Isabel showed two pictures at the Walker Art Gallery autumn exhibition: A Legend of the Soul; and Impression de Voyage.


17th Liverpool Autumn Exhibition of Modern Pictures 1887.  List of exhibitors p109.  List of exhibits p66 catalogue number 1126 - A Legend of the Soul, price £25/10; and catalogue number 1127 - Impression de Voyage for sale at £6/6.  As usual both were oil paintings.

Comment by Sally Davis: A Legend of the Soul had a sub-title: Persephone Sinking into the Abyss of Hades.  Isabel also sent in a long quote, which the Corporation of Liverpool duly reproduced in the catalogue: “Persephone, wilfully straying from the Mansions of Heaven, falls under the power of the Hadean God, in other words Persephone typifying the Soul sinks into the profound depths of a material nature.  Hermes Trismegistus”.   I haven’t seen the painting but it must be an illustration of kore kosmou, the first of a group of works by the supposed Hermes Trismegistus translated by Anna Bonus Kingsford and Edward Maitland, in their The Hermetic Works.  The Virgin of the World (see 1885).  Kingsford and Maitland saw the tale of Persphone and the Underworld in two ways: as showing how closely linked were the religions of the Classical world and the early forms of Christianity; and as an allegory of spiritual or psychological death and rebirth, a way in which it is still seen today.

At you can read the full text of the book, though it has a slightly different title: The Hermetic Works of the Virgin of the World of Hermes Mercurius Trismegistus translated and with introduction and notes by Dr Anna Kingsford and Edward Maitland, authors of The Perfect Way.  1885 Bath: Bath Occult Reprint Series, run by Robert H Fryar who also does an introd to the book. 


Isabel doesn’t mention A Legend of the Soul in Memorabilia.  I do wonder, though, whether she had in her mind when she was painting it, that Anna Bonus Kingsford was very ill with TB: Dr Kingsford’s actual death and possible rebirth on some other plane were likely to take place quite soon.


22 FEBRUARY 1888

Isabel received a telegram at her house in Bedford Park, summoning her to go to the aid of Rev Kingsford (Dr Kingsford’s husband, now her widower) and Edward Maitland (her partner in esotericism) as Dr Kingsford had died during the night.  Isabel went at once, shocked, as she hadn’t realised Dr Kingsford was so ill.

Source for the incident though not the date: Memorabilia p168-169.

Source for the date: Biography of Anna Bonus Kingsford and her Founding of the Hermetic Society by Samuel Hopgood Hart.  I bought a Kessinger Legacy Reprints in 2013 but originally the Biography was only the introductory essay to Hopgood Hart’s edition of Kingsford’s writings, The Credo of Christendom published 1930; p52.


Comment by Sally: it sounds from Memorabilia as though Isabel had not been able to bring herself to accept that Anna Bonus Kingsford was dying, until her death had actually taken place.  It’s possible, of course, that Dr Kingsford had undergone a sudden decline in the last few weeks, so that though her death was half-expected, Isabel didn’t expect it so soon.  However it happened, her death and the loss of her friendship, was a defining moment in Isabel’s life, for all the wrong reasons.  In her Memorabilia she doesn’t mention any other woman to whom she was so close - her relationship with Mary Ann Atwood was not the same at all.



The death of Anna Bonus Kingsford ends this file in the life-by-dates of Isabel de Steiger.   The next file covers the years the rest of 1888 to 1900; including the period when Isabel was in the Order of the Golden Dawn.



BASIC SOURCES I USED for all Golden Dawn members.


Membership of the Golden Dawn: The Golden Dawn Companion by R A Gilbert.  Northampton: The Aquarian Press 1986.  Between pages 125 and 175, Gilbert lists the names, initiation dates and addresses of all those people who became members of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn or its many daughter Orders between 1888 and 1914.  The list is based on the Golden Dawn’s administrative records and its Members’ Roll - the large piece of parchment on which all new members signed their name at their initiation.  All this information had been inherited by Gilbert but it’s now in the Freemasons’ Library at the United Grand Lodge of England building on Great Queen Street Covent Garden.  Please note, though, that the records of the Amen-Ra Temple in Edinburgh were destroyed in 1900/01.  As far as I know, the records of the Horus Temple at Bradford have not survived either.


Family history: freebmd; (census and probate);; familysearch; Burke’s Peerage and Baronetage; Burke’s Landed Gentry; Armorial Families;; and a wide variety of family trees on the web.


Useful source for business and legal information: London Gazette and its Scottish counterpart Edinburgh Gazette.  Now easy to find (with the right search information) on the web.  Very good on bankruptcies!


Famous-people sources: mostly about men, of course, but very useful even for the female members of GD.  Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.  Who Was Who. Times Digital Archive.


Catalogues: British Library; Freemasons’ Library.


Wikipedia; Google; Google Books - my three best resources.  I also used other web pages, but with some caution, as - from the historian’s point of view - they vary in quality a great deal.



18 September 2017


Find the web pages of Roger Wright and Sally Davis, including my list of people initiated into the Order of the Golden Dawn between 1888 and 1901, at: