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 Post subject: Julia Margaret Cameron 1815-1879
 Post Posted: Thu May 24, 2007 3:01 am 
Bogawantalawa
Julia Margaret Cameron 1815-1879

The Glencairn estate was named by Charles Hay Cameron and his wife. They both died there - she on 26 January 1879, at the age of 63, he the following year at the ripe age of 85.

By Christopher Ondaatje

Bogawantalawa was the last home of Julia Margaret Cameron, one of the finest nineteenth-century photographers and a great-aunt of Virginia Woolf. She was born Julia Pattle in Calcutta in 1815 and married Charles Hay Cameron, a jurist and philosopher, who worked with W. M G. Colebrooke on his report on the civil service in 1832. In 1838, the Camerons moved to Ceylon where they lived for ten years until Charles's retirement, when they returned to England. But they remained in touch with the island, not least because they had invested money in coffee there.

Back in England, for her forty-eighth birthday in 1863, Julia Margaret Cameron was given a camera. She turned herself into the leading portrait photographer of Victorian England, whose best-known subjects were her friends Alfred Tennyson, Robert Browning, Charles Darwin and Ellen Terry. Also striking are her photographs of her niece Julia Jackson, who married Leslie Stephen and became the mother of Virginia Woolf. "Julia Jackson inherited a full measure of the Pattle beauty, as one can see in the famous photographs by her famous aunt, Mrs Cameron, herself one of the six Pattle sisters," Leonard Woolf writes in the first volume of his autobiography. Her portraits forfeited sharpness of focus and definition for penetrating expression of character and beauty. When Leslie Stephen published the first edition of the Dictionary of National Biography in 1885, Julia Margaret Cameron was the only photographer with an entry (among only 18 women out of a total of 420 entries).

Apart from taking portraits, she also photographed the tea estates. And this was because in 1875 she and her husband decided to return to live in Ceylon; in England they missed the tropical climate and the way of life, and their coffee plantations, which had been supervised by their sons and were now affected by the devastating leaf blight, needed attention. The Glencairn estate was named by Charles Hay Cameron and his wife. They both died there - she on 26 January 1879, at the age of 63, he the following year at the ripe age of 85. They are both buried in the graveyard of St Mary's Church about a mile outside Bogawantalawa.


Source: The Sri Lankan Anchorman, Toronto-Canada


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