Stephen, Caroline Emelia

Identity area

Type of entity


Authorized form of name

Stephen, Caroline Emelia

Parallel form(s) of name

Standardized form(s) of name according to other rules

Other form(s) of name

Identifiers for corporate bodies

Description area

Dates of existence



(from article by Alison M. Lewis, Ph.D.)

Caroline Emelia Stephen (1834-1909) was the youngest of this generation of Stephen siblings and the only girl. There are two distinctive and contradictory portraits of her that emerge. The first has its roots in Leslie Stephen’s book of family remembrances, The Mausoleum Book, in which he writes that Caroline’s health was damaged and her life ruined by an unrequited love who left and died in India (54-5). We are indebted to feminist scholar Jane Marcus for being the first to look at Caroline Stephen seriously in the realm of Woolf criticism. Marcus put forth an alternative viewpoint, espoused by Woolf herself, that Caroline’s ill health was rather due to the fact that she played the role of "a dutiful Victorian daughter and sister, nursing at the sickbeds and deathbeds of her family" ("Niece," 15). Woolf recognized in her aunt the same pattern played out in the lives of her own mother and half-sister and stated in her aunt’s obituary that "attendance upon her mother during her last long illness injured her health so seriously that she never fully recovered" (Marcus, "Thinking," 29).

Caroline’s mother died in 1875; Caroline suffered another collapse the same year while caring for Leslie and his daughter following the death of his first wife. It is perhaps not surprising that Leslie Stephen might have been eager to shift some of the blame for Caroline’s broken health from himself to a mythical lover. Even more damaging is the fact that he makes every effort to denigrate Caroline’s writing. Her work is "little" he says, perhaps in contrast to his own "big" work. He misnames Quaker Strongholds in his memoir as Strongholds of Quakerism, and calls it "another little work of hers" (Mausoleum, 55). Caroline most likely found a number of other benefits in her involvement with Friends: the lack of priests and paid ministers avoided the hierarchical structure of other established religions; her own religious authority was both valued and encouraged by Friends; and she entered a tradition which, from the time of its founding in the mid-1600s, had accepted in principle and often in practice, the equality of women.

For more information see article by Lewis, Ph.D. at: and Wikipedia article at: .


Legal status

Functions, occupations and activities

Mandates/sources of authority

Internal structures/genealogy

General context

Relationships area

Related entity

Welby, Victoria, Lady, 1837-1912 (1837-1912)

Identifier of the related entity


Category of the relationship


Dates of the relationship

1885-1887, 1889-1891, 1894-1896, 1902, 1906

Description of relationship


Access points area


Control area

Authority record identifier

Institution identifier

Rules and/or conventions used



Level of detail


Dates of creation, revision and deletion

Created 2015-10-29 by Anna St.Onge.


  • English


  • Latin


Maintenance notes

  • Clipboard

  • Export

  • EAC