Edward, and the original of Adrian Harley in The Ordeal of Richard Feverel), and Mary Ellen also visited General and Lady Nicolls, her in-laws by her first marriage, in Blackheath, then in Kent.This is the cottage that Thomas Love Peacock rented for his daughter Mary Ellen and his son-in-law George Meredith diagonally opposite his own home on the green. It was from here that Meredith walked along the river bank and crossed into Surrey on his long rambles at this time. It is not clear how much time the young family actually spent together in Vine Cottage. For example, they were away for extended periods at Seaford in Sussex, staying in lodgings with Meredith's friend Maurice Fitzgerald (nephew of the more famous
Another view of the house.
According to Meredith's early biographer, Siegfried Sassoon, they gave up the cottage "about the end of 1855" (24). By the end of 1856 they were definitely living separately; and in the following summer Mary Ellen went to Wales with the artist Henry Wallis. By the end of the following year Meredith and Arthur were in lodgings in Chelsea. The long-drawn-out breakdown of their marriage provided the background and material of the "Modern Love" sonnet sequence.
Photographs and text by Jacqueline Banerjee. [You may use these images without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the photographer and (2) link your document to this URL or cite the Victorian Web in a print document.]
Banerjee, Jacqueline. Literary Surrey. Headley Down, Hamps.: John Owen Smith, 2005.
Jones, Mervyn. The Amazing Victorian: A Life of George Meredith. London: Constable, 1999.
Sassoon, Siegfried. Meredith. London: Arrow Books, 1959.
Last modified 15 December 2015