The Palgrave Encyclopedia of Victorian Women's Writing

Living Edition
| Editors: Lesa Scholl (Editor-in-Chief)

Eastlake, Lady Elizabeth [Elizabeth Rigby]

Living reference work entry


Lady Elizabeth Eastlake (née Rigby) (1809–1893) was a prolific journalist and a writer on art, although she is merely glimpsed in the indexes of much art-historical scholarship. Notwithstanding recent publications exploring her wider work and critical commentary on culture, she remains most cited in Victorian Studies for her infamous reviews of Jane Eyre and Modern Painters.


Elizabeth Rigby was born in Norwich, the daughter of obstetrician and gentleman farmer, Dr. Edward Rigby, and his second wife, Anne Palgrave. The Rigbys owned a country estate at Framingham Earl, near Norwich, where Dr. Rigby perfected the latest techniques of animal husbandry and crop cultivation. Dr. Rigby was also a leading obstetrician, an advocate of public health measures and, at one time, Mayor of Norwich. Elizabeth was educated at home and showed a precocious talent for drawing, nurtured under the tutelage of various local artists, including the landscape painter John Sell Cotman....


Elizabeth Rigby Lady Eastlake Art criticism Literary criticism Journalism 
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  1. Avery-Quash, S., and J. Sheldon. 2011. Art for the nation: The Eastlakes and the Victorian art world. London: National Gallery Publications with Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  2. ———. 2013. “The pencil is the child of my heart.” A rediscovered album of drawings by Elizabeth Rigby, Lady Eastlake. British Art Journal XIV (2): 45–63.Google Scholar
  3. Hilton, T. 1985. John Ruskin: The early years. New Haven/London: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  4. Sheldon, J. 2007a. “Elizabeth Rigby and the Calotypes of Hill and Adamson: Correspondence from the John Murry Archive, 1843–1880.” Studies in Photography, 42–48.Google Scholar
  5. ———. 2007b. Elizabeth Rigby, Lady Eastlake. In Encyclopedia of nineteenth century photography, ed. John Hannavay, 1195–1196. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  6. ———. 2009a. ‘In her own metier’: The quarterly review of Jane Eyre. Women’s History Review 18 (5): 839–847.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. ———., ed. 2009b. The letters of Elizabeth Rigby, Lady Eastlake. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press.Google Scholar
  8. ———. 2012. His best successor: Lady Eastlake and the National Gallery. In Museums and biographies: Stories, objects, identities, ed. K. Hill, 61–74. Woodbridge: Boydell Press.Google Scholar
  9. ———. 2019. “Lady Eastlake and the characteristics of the old masters,” 19: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Long Nineteenth Century (28), n.p.Google Scholar
  10. Smith, C.E., ed. 1895. Journals and correspondence of Lady Eastlake. Vol. 2. London: John Murray.Google Scholar

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Liverpool John Moores UniversityLiverpoolUK

Section editors and affiliations

  • Emily Morris
    • 1
  1. 1.St. Thomas More College, University of SaskatchewanSaskatoonCanada