Wolverhampton BTW

Catharine Taylor

Taylor, Catharine, later Whittle, c.1810—1883

by Benjamin Colbert

Catharine Taylor was the daughter of Edward Taylor (1784-1863; ODNB), vocalist and Gresham professor of music, and Deborah Taylor, née Newson. Catharine Taylor had a younger sister, Margaret, and an older brother, John Edward (Taylor, P. M. 28).

Her brother, John Edward Taylor (1809-66), was from 1837 to 1851 partner to his uncle, Richard Taylor, who operated a printing house at Red Lion Court, London. Catharine Taylor was also the niece of Sarah (Taylor) Austin (1793-1867; ODNB), among the talented Norwich Taylor family. When John Edward Taylor and his cousin, Henry Reeve (1780-1840; ODNB), published Translations from the German with John Murray in 1842, it was not only printed by Richard Taylor (1781-1858; ODNB) and John Edward Taylor at Red Lion Court, but the endpapers advertised a virtual family album of concurrent publications: Reeve’s Characteristics of Painters, Catherine Taylor’s Letters from Italy to a Younger Sister, Sarah Austin’s translated Fragments from German Prose Writers, and John Edward Taylor’s Michael Angelo Considered as a Philosophical Poet.

Despite these illustrious connections and the records and biographical notices surrounding them, information is scarce on Catharine Taylor and her immediate family. From her Letters from Italy, we learn that the account was based on a seventeen-month residence on the continent, during which the author kept a detailed journal, out of which she crafted the letters for purposes of instructing her younger sister, Margaret Taylor, whose education she supervised. Internal evidence shows that the first volume covers a period between October 1834 and February 1835, and, the second, from February to June 1835. In the preface to volume 2, she thanks her brother John Edward Taylor for ‘notes and translations’, and Sarah Austin for ‘assistance’ and ‘encouragement’ in the completion of the project.

After her return to England, Taylor continued to live with her father in Norfolk, with frequent trips to London. Probably in 1843, she married James Whittle and thereafter styled herself ‘Mrs James Whittle’ in the few sketches she published, including ‘Festivities and Superstitions of Devonshire’ (1847), which appeared in Bentley’s Miscellany. Her husband, too, published in Bentley’s, notably his own travel sketch, ‘Hunting in a German Forest' (1850). In 1858, he purchased Schloss Syrgenstein in Bavaria, near Lake Konstanz (Bodensee), where Catherine (Taylor) Whittle resided in her later years, from 1873 in the company of her sister Margaret Taylor (Scholefield 322). Catherine Whittle died on 20 November 1883 near Lindau, Bavaria (Obit.).


Brock, W. H. and A. J. Meadows. The Lamp of Learning: Two Centuries of Publishing at Taylor & Francis. London: Taylor & Francis, 1998. Print.

Edwards, F. G., and David J. Golby. 'Taylor, Edward (1784–1863), lecturer and writer on music'. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. 23 Sept. 2004. Oxford University Press. Web. 28 Dec. 2018. https://doi.org/10.1093/ref:odnb/27025

[Obit. notice]. The Morning Post no. 34766 (Tues., 27 Nov. 1883): [1]. Gale Databases: British Library Newspapers, Part II: 1800-1900. Web. 28 Dec. 2018.

Reeve, Henry, and John Edward Taylor. Translations from the German. Prose and Verse. London: John Murray, 1842. Print.

Scholefield, Guy H., ed. Richmond-Atkinson Papers. Vol. 2. Wellington, New Zealand: R. E. Owen, 1960. Print.

Taylor, Catharine. Letters from Italy to a Younger Sister. By Catharine Taylor. 2 vols. London: John Murray, Albemarle Street. 1840-41. Print.

Taylor, Philip Meadows. A Memoir of the Family of Taylor of Norwich. N.p.: Privately Printed, 1886. Print.


Title Published
Letters from Italy to a Younger Sister 1840

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