What about Ann Little Ingram?

While I will again emphasize that I am not a women’s historian, or a feminist historian, I must say that tracking down a historic woman has again proven extraordinarily difficult.

This time the story revolves around the Illustrated London News, a highly popular periodical in Victorian England. While not the only newspaper to use illustrations, the ILN was known for the quality and quantity of its images. This is why the character in my novel, Jo Harris, wants to be an artist for the ILN.

Knowing this was unlikely for a young-ish woman with no connections, I had her doing odd illustrating jobs in the first novel, for lesser periodicals like the Penny Illustrated Paper. But in the sequel, she has become more skilled, and is ready for the big time.

Wanting to create another character based on an actual person (I did this throughout the first mystery), I looked up who the proprietor was of the ILN in 1863.

Ann Ingram. Prounouns would be she/her, as they say. I confess I didn’t expect that. But apparently her husband, Herbert Ingram, founded the Illustrated London News, with a loan from Anne’s brother, who would also be publisher. But in 1860, Herbert took a holiday with his teenage eldest son, and they died in a massive boating accident on Lake Michigan aboard the cursed steamer Lady Elgin. So Ann took over the paper.

She is mentioned briefly in several sources, who essentially say she took over as editor only until her sons became old enough to do it. I think this is unlikely, since she was proprietor for eleven years from 1860-1871. The Waterloo Directory (the bible of Victorian periodical research) fails to list her name as editor. A Google Search, with either spelling of Ann or Anne, is unprofitable.  So I posted on the Facebook group for the Research Society for Victorian Periodicals, and the venerable Patrick Leary responded that she has indeed been neglected. He mentioned her in this history of the ILN written for Gale, and called her “a woman of considerable business acumen”.

What a possibly fascinating person. Leary has suggested that Isabel Bailey, who wrote a book on Herbert, might know something, having accessed their unpublished papers. If only I could find her.

But the point is, I shouldn’t have to. How can a woman who managed a paper which sold 250,000 copies for its special issues, not be more well-known? He certainly was — he became an MP, and there is a statue of him in the marketplace in old Boston. His life is chronicled. His picture is right here. –>

She bore him ten children, then ran his business, and her name isn’t even on his Wikipedia page. Was she photographed or engraved? Did she keep a diary? Was she written about in other people’s letters?

I sense yet another rabbit hole, dark with the story of another ignored woman.

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