Our third nominee for a Nuannaarpoq Award is:
Mary Delany (1700-1788)
Parameters: 18th century, British, real, human, female, now living elsewhere
Nuannaarpoq qualities: authenticity, enchantment, imagination, innocence, kindness, resilience
References: Molly Peacock, The Paper Garden
Mary Delany nearly spanned the 18th century and two centuries later inspired one of the finest biographies I’ve read. Molly Peacock’s The Paper Garden is a tribute to a person of extraordinary resilience and resourcefulness, living at a time when a woman’s room for manoeuvre in carving out her own idea of freedom and fulfillment was often highly circumscribed by family and societal expectations.
Two of her most admirable and endearing qualities are a minutely observant, irrepressibly alive alertness on the one hand, and an astonishingly robust resistance to having her vivacity and tenderness ground into dust by the brutality of her era.
I regret not being able to write to Mrs Delany to ask if I might come for tea. It would surely be a delightful and fortifying visit. As Peacock says of her:
For this woman, creative life was not a question of having a room of her own, but a cosmos of her own.
Please see the images featured here together with our love letter to the woman and the biography of her, to appreciate this Nuannaarpoq Award nomination. And feel free to visit other nominees.
Image credit: portrait of Mary Delany (née Granville), by John Opie (d. 1807)