Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Jewsbury, Geraldine Endsor
JEWSBURY, GERALDINE ENDSOR (1812–1880), novelist, born at Measham, Derbyshire, in 1812, was the younger sister of Maria Jane Jewsbury [q. v.], and the daughter of Thomas Jewsbury, who settled at Manchester about 1818 as a merchant and insurance agent. After the death of her mother, which took place soon after this removal, she was brought up by her sister Maria, whose marriage in 1832 placed the care of the household upon herself. Her father died in 1840, and she became housekeeper for her brother Frank until he married in 1853.
In 1841 she made the personal acquaintance of Thomas Carlyle and his wife. The former thought her ‘one of the most interesting young women he had seen for years, clear, delicate sense and courage looking out of her small, sylph-like figure.’ With the Carlyles she remained on terms of the closest intimacy through life. She was warmly interested in and attached to Mrs. Carlyle, and on removing to London in 1854 she settled down at Chelsea in order to be near her friend. Some of Mrs. Carlyle's most confidential letters are addressed to her. On Mrs. Carlyle's death in April 1866 Miss Jewsbury was the first of Carlyle's friends to whom he turned for sympathy. Her account of Mrs. Carlyle's early reminiscences are printed in Carlyle's ‘Reminiscences’ (Froude, ii. 71; Norton, i. 54).
Her brilliant conversational powers, fine humour, kindly disposition, and winning manners made her a general favourite, and at Manchester and afterwards in London she gathered round her persons of literary and artistic taste. Among her friends were Mr. W. E. Forster, with whom she visited Paris during the revolutionary excitement in May 1848. She was also familiar with Lady Morgan, Lady Llanover, Viscountess Combermere, and many others; and assisted Lady Morgan in the arrangement of her ‘Memoirs,’ which afterwards, in 1868, were edited and published by William Hepworth Dixon. It was at her suggestion that Lady Martin published her ‘Female Characters of Shakespeare.’
Her first novel, ‘Zoe, the History of Two Lives,’ appeared in 1845. In it she introduces Mirabeau as a lover of the heroine. In 1848 she published ‘The Half-Sisters,’ the dedication of which Mrs. Carlyle would have accepted but for the fear of offending her husband. In 1851 ‘Marian Withers’ came out. It was written for, and first published in, the ‘Manchester Examiner and Times,’ and was mainly descriptive of life and character in the Lancashire manufacturing district. Her next novels were ‘Constance Herbert,’ 1855, and ‘Sorrows of Gentility,’ 1856. Her last was ‘Right or Wrong,’ 1859. Meanwhile she published two stories for children, ‘The History of an Adopted Child,’ 1852, and ‘Angelo, or the Pine Forest in the Alps,’ 1855; and she wrote stories for Mrs. S. C. Hall's ‘Juvenile Budget,’ and short tales for ‘Household Words.’ Her ambition was to become a journalist, but her delicate and nervous constitution made her unfit for the work. She, however, was for many years a constant contributor to the ‘Athenæum,’ and wrote occasionally in the reviews. An article by her on ‘Faith and Scepticism’ was printed in the ‘Westminster Review’ for 1849.
In 1866 she removed to Sevenoaks, Kent, and lived there until 1880, when, being afflicted with cancer, she removed to a private hospital at Burwood Place, Edgware Road, London. During her last illness she was visited by Carlyle, Professor Huxley, J. A. Froude, and others. She was buried at Brompton cemetery, in Lady Morgan's vault.
[Manchester Examiner and Times, 24 Sept. 1880; Athenæum, 2 Oct. 1880, p. 434; Carlyle's Reminiscences; Jane Welsh Carlyle's Letters, passim; Mrs. Alexander Ireland's Memoir of Jane Welsh Carlyle (1891); Froude's Carlyle's Life in London, 1884, i. 207; Reid's Life of W. E. Forster, 1888, i. 227; S. C. Hall's Retrospect, 1883, ii. 148; Edmund Yates's Recollections, 1884, i. 27; information kindly supplied by Mrs. M. A. Everett Green and Mr. A. Ireland.]