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Raverat, Gwendolen Mary, 1885-1957 (née Darwin, artist)



Gwen Raverat, the daughter of the astronomer Sir George Howard Darwin (1845–1912) and his wife, Maud du Puy (1861–1947), of Philadelphia, was born on 26 August 1885 in Cambridge, where she spent her childhood. Her father was professor of astronomy and she had two uncles at Cambridge, while her mother's uncle by marriage was Sir Richard Jebb, professor of Greek.

By the age of ten Gwen Darwin was already drawing continuously from life and strongly wished to become an artist. In 1908 she went to the Slade School of Art, then under Frederick Brown and Henry Tonks, where she learned painting, but she taught herself wood-engraving. At Cambridge before the First World War she found herself a member of a group of talented young men and women, of whom the most prominent was Rupert Brooke. She fell in love with Jacques Pierre Raverat, a young French mathematical student from the Sorbonne who was continuing his studies at Emmanuel College, and persuaded him to become a painter and join her at the Slade. They were married in 1911.

At the outbreak of war the Raverats were living in Cambridgeshire, but in 1915 they went to Le Havre to be near his family. Jacques Pierre Raverat, by then suffering from disseminated sclerosis, tried to join the French army as an interpreter. He failed, and the couple returned to England and lived at Weston, near Baldock, Hertfordshire, where their two daughters were born: Elizabeth on 26 December 1916 and Sophie Jane on 20 December 1919. In 1920 they went again to France and lived at Vence, where Gwen Raverat nursed her husband through his long final illness, until his death in 1925. She then returned to England to live at the Old Rectory, at Harlton, near Cambridge. In 1941 she moved into rooms in Cambridge, and finally took the Old Granary at the end of the garden of her birthplace, Newnham Grange.

Apart from illustrating 'Spring Morning' (1915), a little paper-bound book of early poems by her lifelong friend and cousin Frances Cornford, Raverat's work until the 1930s consisted of single prints. These were widely exhibited, and gave her a standing among fellow artists and collectors. She was a founder member of the Society of Wood Engravers in 1920, and active on its committees, which met at her studio in Mecklenburgh Square, London. After 1932, when the Cambridge University Press published her engravings for a second edition of The Cambridge Book of Poetry for Children, selected by Kenneth Grahame, her work was in continual demand from publishers. Her last important work was the writing of 'Period Piece' (1952), a perceptive account of her upbringing and family. She contributed art criticism to 'Time and Tide' between 1928 and 1939.

After a stroke in 1951 Raverat could no longer engrave, but she continued to paint. She died in Cambridge on 11 February 1957.

Found in 13 Collections and/or Records:


Correspondence: Gwen Raverat, 1901-1946

Reference Code: GBR/0012/MS Add.10286/4
Scope and Contents

Contains letters sent to Gwen Raverat and a large collection of envelopes addressed to Gwen Raverat.

Dates: 1901-1946

Gwen Raverat and Jacques Pierre Paul Raverat: Papers

Reference Code: GBR/0012/MS Add.9209
Dates: 1900-1950 (20th century)

Ida Darwin: Correspondence and Papers II

Reference Code: GBR/0012/MS Add.10286
Dates: 1862-1946

Letters: 1916, Sep.-Nov. 1916

Reference Code: GBR/0012/MS Add.9790/1/3
Scope and Contents

Contains 11 letters addressed to Nora Barlow née Darwin. The majority of the letters were written in September in the days following the birth of Nora's fourth child, Andrew Dalmahoy Barlow, born 16 September 1916 and include two letters from Ida Darwin and a letter from Gwen and Jacques Raverat. The letters from Ruth Darwin include descriptions of a visit to Somerset and Wales undertaken in late September with her parents.

Dates: Sep.-Nov. 1916

Nora Barlow Letters: 1915, 1915

Reference Code: GBR/0012/MS Add.10286/1/8/16
Scope and Contents

Contains 49 letters from Nora to Ida Darwin sent between 1 January and 29 December 1915. Amongst news of family and social engagements, the letters make reference to Zeppelin raids on London in September and October 1915 and of work undertaken by Nora in the Chemical Department at Bedford College.
Includes letters from Isobel Addison, Alan Barlow, Erasmus Darwin and Gwen Raverat to Nora, and letters from Ella Coltman and Ruth Darwin to Ida.

Dates: 1915

Nora Barlow Letters: 1918, 1918

Reference Code: GBR/0012/MS Add.10286/1/8/19
Scope and Contents Contains 35 letters from Nora to Ida Darwin sent between 5 January and 12 November 1919. Amongst news of family and social engagements, the letters make reference to visits to Great Missenden and Yorkshire, of an unexploded shell falling on Nora's London home in Lansdowne Road on 19 May 1918, and an account of armistice day celebrations in London and of Nora's thoughts and feelings on the end of the war.Includes letters from Frances Cornford, Charles Galton Darwin, Alice Pell and...
Dates: 1918

Papers of Nora Barlow

Reference Code: GBR/0012/MS Add.8904
Dates: 1840-1970 (Circa)

Postcard from Gwendolen Raverat to Nora Barlow, 20 Mar. 1914

Reference Code: GBR/0012/MS Add.9790/4
Scope and Contents

Single postcard from Gwen Raverat to Nora Barlow sent from Arezzo, Italy.

Dates: 20 Mar. 1914

Raverat, G.: Correspondence with the Press, 1931 - 1942

Reference Code: GBR/0265/UA/PRESS 3/1/2/10155
Scope and Contents From the Series: The correspondence comprises incoming letters, including readers' reports.This series is known as ‘author files’ because the arrangement is focused upon the individual. Some contain correspondence only. The correspondence includes readers' reports from 1913 onwards.As the new Press Archive catalogue is not yet complete, please use the 'Former / Other Reference' to request these items.For the number of items (not the number of letters) see the number in brackets after the Former /...
Dates: 1931 - 1942

Sir George Darwin: Correspondence and papers relating to marriage of daughter Gwen to Jacques Raverat

Reference Code: GBR/0012/MS Add.9268
Dates: 3 Mar. 1911-17 Oct. 1917

Additional filters:

ARCHON code (for CUL materials)
Archives and MSS Dept. (GBR/0012) 12
University Archives (GBR/0265) 1
Archival Object 9
Collection 4
Family correspondence 2
Personal papers 2
Biography 1
Botanists 1
Botany 1