Lucia Whitaker

My great-grandmother, Lucia, was a gently beautiful woman.  I have late Victorian photographs to show me just how charming she was to look at and last week I created an image with her as the centrepiece.  This particular photograph (below), which admittedly stands on its own, was exquisitely hand-tinted.

Being me, however, I wanted to embellish it!  I used my own textures and backgrounds alongside one from The Graphics Fairy and one from Deviant Art.

Lucia died in 1906 when she was in her 40s. There is some mystery about how she died. My mother used to imagine that Lucia had had a riding accident since she found the idea so romantic. I obtained Lucia’s death certificate from Somerset House but the writing is too spidery to transcribe and be certain of the cause.  Her name suggests there was an Italian connection in the family but I have searched to no avail and the names of her siblings are relentlessly English.  I am disappointed not to have Italian blood in my veins!

In 1991  my mother, Benedicta Leigh, had her memoirs published by Virago, The Catch Of Hands.

She writes about her grandmother:

She taught my mother how to play the tambourine in the proper way, and my mother taught me in a dark nursery, the wet railings of the square outside shining like licorice…

‘… Lucia died quite young, and we did not meet, nor did I know how she had died, and there was no asking in the shadowed pauses of tea-time conversation.
Sometimes the sisters spoke of her: ‘Mother might have–’ or ‘Mother didn’t–’ they would say, leaving a farthing of silence to check questioning.  Which was not allowed, of course – but minds hopped through hoops of chance.  For nobody ever spoke about Lucia.  Perhaps it was a hunting accident that took her, for in a photograph, a stocky groom in shirtsleeves and billy-cock hat holds a stubby little pony by a rein.  But nothing is betrayed, and our grandfather is wounded forever it seems, although he married again to kiss it better and for comfort…

… In the large coloured photograph, she looks young, composed, informed.  Neither pretty nor beautiful, but distinctive, guarding her intelligence as though she feels hazarded by it…’

Lucia Whitaker

Take care and keep laughing!