Edwards is sometimes dismissed as a mediocre observer of middle-class life, but images such as these demonstrate her capacity to represent the sufferings of the poor in a hard-hitting, almost expressionistic style, with the agitated lines of the bed-linen suggesting mental turbulence. Informed with the social realism of the 1870s, she vividly conveys the notion of a ‘bad’ or joyless death. The cut features in a cheap edition of Mary Sewell’s Mother’s Last Words, 4. Wood-engraving by W. Cheshire. 3¾ x 5½ inches. [Click on image to enlarge it.]

Photograph and text by Simon Cooke. You may use this image without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the photographer and (2) link to this URL in a web document or cite it in a print one.


Sewell, Mary. Mother’s Last Words. London: Jarrold [1893].

Created 19 April 2021