Brightwell, Cecilia Lucy (DNB00)

BRIGHTWELL, CECILIA LUCY (1811–1875), etcher and authoress, was born at Thorpe, near Norwich, on 27 Feb. 1811, the eldest child of Thomas Brightwell (born at Ipswich 18 March 1787, died at Norwich 17 Nov. 1868), by his first wife, Mary Snell (born 1788, died 6 Nov. 1815), daughter of William Wilkin Wilkin, of Cossey. or Costessey, near Norwich, and Cecilia Lucy (Jacomb), a lineal descendant of Thomas Jacomb, D.D., ejected from St. Martin's, Ludgate. Simon Wilkin, uncle of Miss Brightwell, edited the works of Sir Thomas Browne. Her father, a nonconformist solicitor, mayor of Norwich in 1837, was a man of scientific tastes, a good microscopist, and contributor to many scientific journals. The Asplanchna Brightwellii, a rotiferous animalcule, was discovered by him. He published 'Notes on the Pentateuch,' 1840, 12mo, a compilation, with original notes on natural history: and printed 100 copies of 'Sketch of a Fauna Infusoria for East Norfolk,' 1848 (unpublished). In the preparation of the latter work he was materially assisted by his daughter (a pupil of John Sell Cotman), who drew and lithographed the figures of the various species noted. Miss Brightwell, who was a good Italian scholar and a remarkably able etcher, owed little to teachers, and followed her own methods. She went little into society. Her philanthropic spirit was shown in her exertions and contribution of 180l, for the 'Brightwell' lifeboat put on the Norfolk coast at Blakeney. Her writings (many of them published by the Religious Tract Society) were mainly biographical, and written for the young. Of most importance is her first work, the 'Life of Amelia Opie,' 1854; her father was Mrs. Opie's friend and executor. For some years before her death she was afflicted with cataract, from which her father had also suffered. She died at Norwich on 17 April 1875, and was buried at the Rosary, beside her father. A local print gives the following as a complete list of her unpublished etchings: After Rembrandt: the 'Mill;' the 'Long Landscape;' a Dutch landscape; 'Amsterdam;' another landscape and two figure subjects (from original drawings and etchings in the British Museum. A copy of her reproduction of the 'Long Landscape' is placed beside the original in the British Museum, and has deceived good judges). After Dürer: 'Ecce Homo' (from etching); 'Ecce Homo' (from wood-cut). From painting by Richard Wilson formerly in her father's possession. Twelve figure subjects, including etchings from Raffaello and Fuseli. After Annibale Caracci: 'Holy Family' (from etching). After Marc Antonio Raimondi: 'Dancing Cupids' (from etching). Two small sea subjects from Ruysdael and J. S. Cotman. From nature: 'Bardon Hall, Leicestershire' (seat of descendants of Dr. Jacomb); 'Bradgate Hall, Leicestershire;' 'Flordon Common;' 'Village Street, Flordon;' 'Graves of Ejected Ministers at Oakington, Cambridgeshire;' two landscapes with cottages; landscape in the Dutch manner; etching and drawing of cobbler at his bench. Among her published etchings were: Two views of Mr. Page's house, Ely, formerly residence of Oliver Cromwell (etched in two sizes, but only the larger were published); two views of Ranworth Deciy (in Lubbock's 'Fauna of Norfolk'); 'Bromeholme Priory' (frontispiece to Green's 'History of Bacton'). Her writings were:

  1. 'Memorials of the Life of Amelia Opie, selected and arranged from her Letters and Diaries and other manuscripts,' Norwich and London, 1854, 8vo; 2nd ed. 1855, 12mo (preface by Thomas Brightwell).
  2. 'Palissy the Huguenot Potter, a Tale,' 1858, 12mo; another edition, 1877, 12mo.
  3. 'Life of Linnaeus,' 1858. 12mo.
  4. 'Heroes of the Laboratory and Workshop,' 1859, 12mo; 2nd ed. 1860, 12mo.
  5. 'Difficulties overcome: Scenes in the Life of A. Wilson,' 1860, 12mo.
  6. 'Romance of Incidents in the Lives of Naturalists,' 1861, 8vo.
  7. 'Footsteps of the Reformers,' 1861, 8vo.
  8. 'Bye-paths of Biography,' 1863, 12mo.
  9. 'Above Rubies: Memorials of Christian Gentlewomen,' 1864, 12mo.
  10. 'Early Lives and Doings of Great Lawyers,' 1866, 12mo.
  11. 'Annals of Curious and Romantic Lives,' 1866, 12mo.
  12. 'Annals of Industry and Genius,' new edition, 1869, 8vo; another edition, 1871, 8vo.
  13. 'Memorials of the Life of Mr. Brightwell of Norwich,' 1869, 8vo (printed for private circulation).
  14. 'The Romance of Modern Missions,' 1870, 8vo.
  15. 'Georgie's Present, or Tales of Newfoundland,' 1871, 12mo.
  16. 'Memorial Chapters in the Lives of Christian Gentlewomen,' 1871, 12mo.
  17. 'Nurse Grand's Reminiscences at Home and Abroad,' 1871, 8vo.
  18. 'My Brother Harold, a Tale,' 1872, 8vo.
  19. 'Lives of Labour: Eminent Naturalists,' 12mo.
  20. 'Men of Mark, a Book of Short Biographies,' 1873, 8vo; another edition, 1879, 8vo.
  21. 'So Great Love: Sketches of Missionary Life and Labour,' 8vo (her last publication).

[Memorials of Mr. Brightwell, 1869; Norwich newspapers, April 1875; private information.]

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