Wolverhampton BTW

Anne Katharine Elwood

Elwood, Anne Katharine née Curteis, 1796—1873

by Benjamin Colbert

Anne Katharine Curteis Elwood was the daughter of Edward Jeremiah Curteis (1762-1835) and Mary Curteis, née Barrett (1766-1841), of Windmill Hill, Sussex. On 9 January 1824, Anne Curteis married Charles William Elwood (1781/2–1860), Major in the East India Company army. They set out for India overland in October 1825, reaching Egypt in April 1826 and India some months later, where Charles Elwood took command of a regiment in Cutch province after being promoted to Lieutenant-Colonel. The Elwoods returned to England by sea in 1828, and their movements thereafter are recorded in the ‘Fashionable World’ columns of the Morning Post (on 25 June 1829 they were among the 500 guests at ‘Mrs. W. Camac’s Fancy Ball’, dressed ‘as a Brahmin and his Wife’).

Anne Elwood's experiences and observations during her period abroad were committed initially into a journal she kept en route, and then refashioned into letters to her younger sister, Elizabeth Julia Curteis (d. 1864), mentioned in the dedication to the Narrative as ‘Mrs Elphinstone’ (she married Sir Howard Elphinstone, M.P., in 1829). Her husband, meanwhile, took negotiations with the publisher Richard Bentley upon himself, agreeing to two large octavo volumes and assigning perpetual copyright to Bentley for the sum of £225. In the resulting Narrative (1830), Elwood describes herself (not entirely accurately) as ‘the first and only female who has hitherto ventured over-land from England to India’, and her accomplishment earned her some renown. The Morning Post and other papers puffed her book as surpassing Lady Mary Wortley Montagu’s Turkish letters for novelty. ‘The private lives of Mahometan and Hindoo Ladies (hitherto a mystery),’ wrote the correspondent, ‘have been unveiled to our new female traveller’ (19 Aug. 1830).

The Elwoods continued to appear regularly in the society columns through the 1830s and Anne Elwood was presented to the Queen on 29 April 1831 and 3 May 1839. Despite such notices of her as ‘the authoress of a popular work’, her further literary activities went unrecorded, although research towards her two-volume Memoirs of the Literary Ladies of England from the Commencement of the Last Century (1843) perhaps occupied her for some of this time. After this work, the Elwoods subsided from public view, residing at Clayton Priory, Sussex. Charles Elwood died there in 1860, and Anne Elwood died on 24 February 1873, aged seventy-seven.


Manley, Deborah. 'Elwood [née Curteis], Anne Katharine (1796–1873), traveller and writer'. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. 23 Sept. 2004. Oxford University Press. Web. 18 Feb. 2017. https://doi.org/10.1093/ref:odnb/48643

Memo of an agreement between Col. Elwood and Richard Bentley, London, 26 Mar. 1830. Add MS 46611, f. 122. Richard Bentley Papers. British Library, London.

The Morning Post, no. 18263 (Thurs., 25 June 1829); no. 18623 (Thurs., 19 Aug. 1830); (Thurs., April 29, 1831); no. 21320 (Fri., 3 May 1839). Gale Databases: British Library Newspapers, Part II: 1800-1900. Web. 18 Feb. 2017.


Title Published
Narrative of a Journey Overland from England, by the Continent of Europe, Egypt, and the Red Sea, to India 1830

[see updates]