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Document number: 4138
Date: Thu 10 Sep 1840
Recipient: TALBOT William Henry Fox
Author: TALBOT Constance, née Mundy
Collection: British Library, London, Manuscripts - Fox Talbot Collection
Collection number historic: LA40-69
Last updated: 14th February 2012

Thursday Sept 10 – /40

My dear Henry

Dr Brabant <1>has just called – & asked for me, as you were not at home – He wished to tell you all about his travels & the brilliant success of your Photographics, especially the Manuscripts which were much appreciated by the German Savans – He ran through a whole list of German names which you will not of course expect me to repeat. – but he promised to make another attempt to see you in a short time, when he will have the opportunity of giving you a more perfect account than I can. – He crossed the water (going out) with Mr Murchison, <2> whom he describes as having expressed much pleasure & interest in the subject. – He asked me if you were acquainted with Mr Wilson of Oxford & had sufficient interest to obtain for him the permission to copy some curious Manuscripts in the Oxford Library, which he wants to send to a celebrated Foreign Savant [sic]. – But when I told him you had been a Cambridge man he thought it improbable that you could do what he wanted.

He has left with me three Photogenic Drawings done by a Mr Enslen, <3> to show you the kind of progress that they are making on the continent They are copies of engravings very much in your style & very clear, but only first copies. What a splendid day this is for our Tourists – I confess I almost envy them, especially as they are going to Markeaton. <4> – I hope you will see my Sisters <5> before you come away – and bring me word how they are. – Suppose you drink tea with them as you did once before.

I bought 2 nice books for the children <6> at Bath. – ‘Mamma’s Lessions’ Lessons & some Sunday stories by Mrs Barbauld <7> which I think will be very useful – The Lessons are more simple than any I have yet met with & are adorned with very pretty pictures –

Yr affte


1. Dr Robert Herbert Brabant (1781-1866), of nearby Devizes, a close friend of the Talbot family. Fluent in German in Greek, he spent his life on an unfinished book intended to dispose of the supernatural element in religion. After his daughter's wedding in 1843, he is reported to have taken the virtue of Mary Ann Evans, the novelist better known as George Elliot, and may have been the model for Mr. Casaubon, the ineffectual scholar in her 1872 novel, Middlemarch.

2. Sir Roderick Impey Murchison, 1st Baronet Murchison (1792–1871), geologist.

3. Johann Karl Enslen (1759–1849), of Stuttgart, son of a sculptor, balloonist, natural philosopher. An example of Enslen’s photogenic drawing, a head of Christ superimposed on a leaf, came from Lacock Abbey and is in the Royal Photographic Society collection. Although clearly signed by Enslen, it has often been confused as being by Talbot. See HJP Arnold, “A Problem Resolved”, British Journal of Photography, 18 May 1989, pp. 25–27; 25 May 1989, pp. 20–21 (a critical illustration referred to in the second part was omitted in publication; the original is in the Agfa- Fotohistorama).

4. Markeaton Hall, Derbyshire, NW of Derby: home of the Mundy family.

5. Laura Mundy (1805–1842); Marian Gilder, née Mundy (1806 – 14 October 1860); m. 6 August 1844 William Troward Gilder (d. 1871), Army Surgeon (ret).; WHFT’s sisters-in-law.

6. Ela Theresa Talbot (1835–1893), WHFT’s 1st daughter; Rosamond Constance ‘Monie’ Talbot (1837–1906), artist & WHFT’s 2nd daughter; Matilda Caroline Gilchrist-Clark, ‘Tilly’, née Talbot (1839–1927), WHFT’s 3rd daughter.

7. Anna Letitia Barbauld (1743–1825).