Let Her Speak for Herself: Nineteenth-Century Women Writing on the Women of Genesis

By Marion Ann Taylor; Heather E. Weir | Go to book overview

§18 Julia Wedgwood
(1833–1913)

(Frances) Julia Wedgwood was the daughter of Frances Emma Mackintosh and Hensleigh Wedgwood, a barrister and philologist, and grandson of Josiah Wedgwood, founder of the Etruria Pottery Company. From an early age Wedgwood lived surrounded by intellectuals debating questions of science, history, and religion, but she received almost no formal education. Her strong academic gifts pushed her to resist her parents' idea that marriage was a woman's only vocation. She taught herself Latin, Greek, French, and German, worked as a research assistant, and became a renowned conversationalist and debater, despite her deafness. Her intellectual powers brought her the admiration of men like the poet Robert Browning (1812–1889), her relative the naturalist Charles Darwin (1809–1882), and the theologian and Christian socialist F. D. Maurice (1805–1872). Wedgwood's intense rationalism was wed to deep spirituality and mysticism. She was critical of the low expectations Christians had for intellectual engagement in church. Wedgwood recognized with considerable regret that her life could "have been so much more than it has been," if she had had the advantages of university education and been free from the duties required of her as a woman.47

Julia Wedgwood began her writing career as a novelist. Later she wrote numerous articles, including one on the theological significance of the Origin

46 Minerva is the goddess of wisdom, crafts and war, the daughter of Jupiter. She is often
depicted with a python draped around her neck.

47 Sources: Jose Harris, "Wedgwood, (Frances) Julia," in The Oxford Dictionary of National
Biography
57:927–29. L. Robert Stevens, "Intertextual Constructions of Faith: Julia Wedgwood
(1833–1913)," in Women's Theology in Nineteenth-Century Britain: Transfiguring the Faith of
their Fathers
, ed. Julie Melnyk (New York: Garland, 1998), 83–93. Richard Curle, ed. Robert
Browning and Julia Wedgwood: A Broken Friendship as Revealed in their Letters
(London: John
Murray & Jonathan Cape, 1937).

-93-

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