Wolverhampton BTW

Elizabeth Strutt

Strutt, Elizabeth née Frost, previously Byron, c.1785—c.1867

by Benjamin Colbert

Elizabeth Frost was born at Hull, Yorkshire, the daughter of Thomas Frost, a solicitor, and Elizabeth Frost. She married John Byron (1780-1805), a physician at Hull. After his death, she began her career as a writer and published her first novel, Anti-Delphine (1806) under the imprint of Joseph Mawman. Mawman published two more novels by ‘Mrs. Byron’: Drelincourt and Rodalvi (1807) and The Borderers (1812).

On 8 November 1813, Elizabeth Byron married Jacob George Strutt (1784-1867; ODNB), a landscape painter and etcher, with whom she had two daughters and two sons. She published a fourth novel with the Minerva Press in 1818, Genevieve, but thereafter supplemented this vein with miscellaneous writings in biography (The Hermit of Dumpton Cave [1823]), conduct (Practical Wisdom [1824]), and devotion (The Young Christian's Companion [1830]). She became particularly known for a series of travel books, A Spinster’s Tour in France (1828), Six Weeks on the Loire (1833), and Domestic Residence in Switzerland (1842).

A Spinster’s Tour was based on a continental tour of June to October 1826, when she travelled in the company of a Lady and her serving maid to France, Switzerland and Italy. Sometime after her return she opened a Ladies’ Boarding School on the Butterwick estate in Hammersmith which closed in 1832 (Faulkner 303). Following this venture, she returned to the continent in June to July, the occasion of her second travel book. Around this time, Elizabeth Strutt and her husband removed to the continent on a more permanent basis, at first to Switzerland where they remained for three years, after which time they preceded to Rome. The Strutts remained in Rome until at least 1851 (their son Arthur Strutt, also an artist, set up as an art teacher in Rome where he lived until his death in 1888).

Besides her retrospective Domestic Residence in Switzerland (1842), Strutt published fiction and biography while abroad. Her late works include The Feminine Soul (1857), an enquiry into the equality of the sexes in their spiritual forms that appeared to some contemporaries to class her among the Swedenborgians. A last novel, The Curate and the Rector, appeared in 1859. In early June 1863, She received a civil list pension of £70 ‘in consideration of her straitened circumstances at a great age, and after 58 years of contributions to literature’ (Morning Post). Four years later, she is mentioned in a review of a Swedenborg biography as among England’s living Swedenborgians (Nottingham Guardian). The date and circumstances of her death, however, are at present unknown.


Faulkner, Thomas. The History and Antiquities of the Parish of Hammersmith. London: Nichols & Sons, 1839. Print.

Morning Post, no. 27916 (Mon., 8 June 1863): 3. Gale Databases: British Library Newspapers, Part II: 1800-1900. Web. 10 Feb. 2018.

Nottingham Guardian, no. 1113 (Fri., 21 June 1867): 2. Gale Databases: British Library Newspapers, Part II: 1800-1900. Web. 10 Feb. 2018.

Plaskitt, Emma. 'Strutt [other married name Byron], Elizabeth (bap. 1783, in or after 1863), writer'. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. 9 Jan. 2014. Oxford University Press. Web. 10 Feb. 2018. https://doi.org/10.1093/ref:odnb/45862


Title Published
A Spinster's Tour in France, the States of Genoa 1828
Six Weeks on the Loire 1833

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