Wolverhampton BTW

Anna Eliza Bray

Bray, Anna Eliza née Kempe, previously Stothard, 1790—1883

by Benjamin Colbert

Anna Kempe was born at Newington, Surrey, daughter of John Kempe, porteur d'or at the Royal Mint, and his wife Ann, née Arrow. After a brief career as an actress, she married her drawing tutor, Charles Alfred Stothard (1786-1821; ODNB), in February 1818. Their honeymoon in France provided material for her first book, Letters Written during a Tour. A journey to Netherlands in September 1820 was, in her words, ‘the last journey I made in company with my beloved husband’ (Memoirs 346), and she wrote extensive journal letters to her mother recounting the tour. Much of this material was published in the 1823 edition of her Memoirs [...] of the Late Charles Alfred Stothard. Her husband died after a fall from a ladder on 28 May 1821.

In 1822, Anna Stothard married the Reverend Edward Atkyns Bray (1778-1857; ODNB). Her subsequent career as a novelist attracted the attention of Robert Southey, though by 1832 Anna Bray also lamented the inaction of her publisher, Colburn, in promoting her work. It was Southey who suggested the subject for her second travelogue, A Description (1836), which takes the form of a series of letters to Southey. Anna Bray published one other travel book after a tour of Switzerland in 1839: The Mountains and Lakes of Switzerland; with Descriptive Letters of Other Parts of the Continent (3 vols, 1841). She continued to publish novels and other prose writings until her death in 1883.


Bray, Anna Eliza Stothard. Memoirs, Including Original Journals, Letters, Papers, and Antiquarian Tracts, of the Late Charles Alfred Stothard. London: Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown, 1823. Print.

---. [Letter to Davies Gilbert], 14 Nov. 1832. Photocopy of MS. RP8649/4. British Lib., London.

Schneller, Beverly E. 'Bray [née Kempe; other married name Stothard], Anna Eliza (1790–1883), novelist and writer'. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. 17 Sept. 2015. Oxford University Press. Web. 16 Dec. 2019. https://doi.org/10.1093/ref:odnb/3291


Title Published
Letters Written during a Tour through Normandy, Brittany, and Other Parts of France 1820
A Description of the Part of Devonshire Bordering on the Tamar and the Tavy 1836

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