Callcott, Maria (DNB00)

CALLCOTT, MARIA, Lady (1785–1842), traveller, and author of ‘Little Arthur's History of England,’ born in 1785 at Papcastle, near Cockermouth, was the daughter of George Dundas, rear-admiral of the blue and commissioner of the admiralty. From an early age she read widely and took great interest in plants, flowers, and trees. Her governess had been acquainted with the Burneys, Reynolds, and Johnson, and she often visited her uncle, Sir David Dundas, at Richmond, where Rogers, Thomas Campbell, Lawrence, and others were frequent guests. Early in 1808 Maria sailed with her father for India. In the following year she married Captain Thomas Graham, R.N., and soon after she set out on a travelling tour in India. She returned to England in 1811, and lived for a while in London, where she made the acquaintance of Sir James Mackintosh and Sir Samuel Romilly. Her husband was absent on foreign service for the next few years, but he and his wife spent some time in Italy in 1819, and started for South America in the ship Doris in 1821. Captain Graham died off Cape Horn in April 1822. His widow proceeded to Valparaiso, where she remained as instructress to Donna Maria from 22 Nov. 1822 to January 1823. Soon afterwards she came back to England, engaged in literary work, and on 20 Feb. 1827 married Augustus Wall Callcott [q. v.], the artist. In 1828 Mr. and Mrs. Callcott started on a long Italian tour. In 1831 Mrs. Callcott ruptured a blood-vessel, and became a confirmed invalid. She died at her husband's house at Kensington Gravel Pits on 28 Nov. 1842, and was buried in Kensal Green cemetery. Lady Callcott wrote popular descriptions of her travels, and was also the author in later life of many successful children's books, and of translations from the French. The book by which she is best remembered is ‘Little Arthur's History of England,’ first published in 1835 in two volumes, under her initials M. C., and repeatedly reissued. Her other works are as follows: 1. ‘Journal of a Residence in India,’ 1812; 2nd ed. 1813; a French translation of this book was issued in A. Duponchel's ‘Nouvelle Bibliothèque des Voyages,’ 1841, vol. x. 2. ‘Letters on India, with etchings and a map,’ 1814. 3. A translation from the French of De Rocca's ‘Memoirs of the Wars of the French in Spain,’ 1815; reissued in 1816. 4. ‘Three Months in the Mountains east of Rome,’ 1820. 5. ‘Memoirs of the Life of Poussin,’ 1820. 6. ‘Journal of a Voyage to Brazil, and residence there during the years 1821–3,’ 1824. 7. ‘Journal of a residence in Chili during the year 1822, and a voyage from Chili to Brazil in 1823,’ 1824. 8. ‘History of Spain,’ 1828. 9. A letter to the Geological Society respecting the earthquakes which Lady Callcott witnessed in Chili in 1822, together with extracts from her letters to H. Warburton, Esq., 1834. 10. A description of Giotto's chapel at Padua, being the letterpress issued with Sir A. W. Callcott's drawings in 1835. 11. ‘Essays towards the History of Painting,’ 1836. 12. Preface to the ‘Seven Ages of Man’ (a collection of drawings by Sir A. W. Callcott), 1840. 13. ‘The Little Brackenburners, and little Mary's four Saturdays,’ 1841. 14. ‘A Scripture Herbal,’ 1842.

[Information kindly supplied by Mr. I. Brunel; Athenæum, 4 Dec. 1842; Gent. Mag. 1843, pt. i. 98; Brit. Mus. Cat.]

S. L. L.