The Life of Julia Sorell Arnold
Julia Sorell was a colonial belle from Tasmania whose marriage to Thomas Arnold the younger in 1850 propelled her into one of the most renowned families in England and into a circle that included Lewis Carroll and George Eliot. Her eldest daughter, Mary Humphry Ward, became a bestselling novelist, while her grandchildren included the writer Aldous Huxley and the evolutionary biologist Julian Huxley. With these connections, Julia is a presence in many documented lives, but she is a mostly silent presence. Yet when extracted from the covers of marriage and family life, her riveting story reveals an extraordinary woman who defied convention as much as she embraced it. Tom’s sudden decision to become a Catholic and Julia’s refusal to convert with him plunged their lives into a crisis in a time when science challenged religion, when industrialisation challenged agrarian forms, when democracy challenged aristocracy, when women began to challenge men.
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