Wolverhampton BTW

Marianne Baillie

Baillie, Marianne née Wathen, c.1795—1831

by Benjamin Colbert

Marianne Wathen Baillie was the daughter of George Wathen (1762-1849), junior army officer, afterwards actor and stage manager, and Marianne Wathen, née Norford. Her paternal grandmother was the aunt of her cousin and contemporary, Thomas Robert Malthus (1766-1834; ODNB). By the time that Marianne Baillie was born, her father had left his acting career behind, rejoining the military at the outbreak of war with France. The details of her childhood are shadowy, but a letter from her mother to Lady Liverpool of 26 January 1814 found the family residing in Guildford barracks, London, while George Wathen sought new employment outside the army.

Marianne Baillie married Alexander Baillie (c.1789-1838) around 1816; a daughter, Emilia, was born 4 February 1817, but survived barely a fortnight. Later that year, Alexander Baillie printed privately at his own press at Kingsbury, near London, Marianne Baillie’s first collection of verse, Guy of Warwick.

In 1818 the Baillies travelled through the countries recorded in First Impressions, published by John Murray the following year, 'one of the earliest accounts of the grand tour written by a woman' (Mitchell). On 9 February 1819 their first surviving son was born, and by June 1820, they had established their residential base at Sion Cottage, Twickenham. There Marianne Baillie occupied herself during the winter with a new work, submitted to Murray in January 1821. Ever supportive of her literary efforts, Alexander Baillie had agreed to ‘guarantee that [Murray] shall be at no loss in the publication’; Murray, however, declined the manuscript and the offer.

Later in 1821, Alexander Baillie was appointed ‘Agent of his Majesty’s Packets’ in Lisbon, and the Baillies resided there from 1821 to 1823, a daughter, Marianne Harriet Maria Johanna Baillie, adding to their family in November 1822. Upon their return, once more in Twickenham, Marianne Baillie prepared her second travel account, Lisbon in the Years 1821, 1822, and 1823 (1824), entering into close correspondence with Murray over the details of the accompanying plates and their colouring.

In a letter to Murray of 1830, Marianne Baillie complained that she ‘not had a day’s health these six months’, and would soon travel to Hastings for seaside recuperation. Her illness, however, persisted and worsened. She died in February 1831.


Baillie, Marianne. Letters to John Murray II. 1820-21, 1824-25, 1827 and 1830. MS.40037, ff. 5-20. John Murray Archive. Natl. Lib. Scotland, Edinburgh.

Mitchell, Rosemary. ‘Baillie, Marianne (1795?–1831), travel writer and versifier’. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. 24 May 2008. Web. 11 Oct. 2017. https://doi.org/10.1093/ref:odnb/1065

The Morning Chronicle, no. 15531 (9 Feb. 1819). Gale Databases: British Library Newspapers, Part I: 1800-1900. Web. 11 Oct. 2017.

The Morning Post, no. 14365 (5 Feb. 1817); no. 14378 (20 Feb. 1817); no. 16112 (5 Nov. 1822). Gale Databases: British Library Newspapers, Part II: 1800-1900. Web. 11 Oct. 2017.

Wathen, Marianne. ‘To Lady Liverpool’. 26 Jan. 1814. Add MS 38256. British Lib., London.

‘Wathen, (Mr.)’. The Thespian Dictionary; or, Dramatic Biography of the Present Age. 2nd ed. London: James Cundee, 1805. N.pag. Print.


Title Published
First Impressions on a Tour upon the Continent 1819
Lisbon in the Years 1821, 1822, and 1823 1824

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