Graham, Maria

BORN 19 Jul 1785, Papcastle (near Cockermouth), Cumberland - DIED 21 Nov 1842, London: Kensington
BIRTH NAME Dundas, Maria
GRAVE LOCATION London: Kensal Green Cemetery, Harrow Road, Kensal Green (038/2 (3846))

Maria Graham was born Maria Dundas. Her father was a naval officer and mostly away from home until he accepted the position of head of the naval works in Bombay in 1808. Maria went with him and during the trip to India she fell in love with the young officer Thomas Graham. They married in 1809 in India. In 1811 they returned to England and there she published "Journal of a Residence in India".

Her husband was away for long intervals and she spent her time as a translator and a book editor. In 1819 she lived in Italy for a while and she published "Three Months Passed in the Mountains East of Rome, during the Year 1819" afterwards. In 1821 she joined her husband on the ship HMS Doris that was under his command. They left for Chili but Thomas died near Cape Horn of a fever. She arrived in Chili as a widow and lived there for a year before she left for England in 1823.

During a stop in Brazil she was asked to become the turo of Princess Maria da Gloria. She went to London to deliver several manuscripts and returned to Brazil in 1824. She quickly became a close friend of empress Maria Leopoldina of Austria, but she was asked to leave because it was suspected that she tried to Anglicize the princess. She had difficulties leaving Brazil, but in 1825 she sailed to England. In London she took rooms in Kensington Gravel Pits and there she met the painter Augustus Wall Callcott. They married in 1827 and visited Italy, Germany and Austria on their honeymoon. Back in England their home was a popular meeting place for artists and other intellectuals. After she ruptured a blood vessel in 1831 she was unable to travel but she continued to write and receive visitors.

In 1822 she had witnessed a heavy earthquake in Chile and her description of it caused heated debates in the Georlogical Society during the 1830s. She had observed that large areas of land rose from the seas and Charles Lyell included this observation in his book "The Principles of Geology". George Bellas Greenough, the president of the Geological Society, attacked Lyell by ridiculing her observations, but Charles Darwin had observed the same phenomenom from the Beagle during another earthquake in Chile in 1835.

In 1837 her husband was knighted and she became Lady Calcott. But not much later her health started to fail and she died in 1842. She was one of the first persons to write about Chile in the English language and the Chilean government paid for the restoration of her grave in 2008.

• Husband: Callcott, Augustus Wall (1827-1842)

Related persons
• was painted by Callcott, Augustus Wall


The grave of Augustus Wall Calcott and Maria Calcott at Kensal Green Cemetery, London.
Picture by Androom (25 Mar 2016)


Maria Graham - Wikipedia

Grahame, Kenneth

Published: 08 Sep 2018
Last update: 20 Apr 2022