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Marion Hepworth Dixon

(1856 – 1936)


“The name, of course, […] the name counts for something,” declares an editor in Ella Hepworth Dixon’s renowned New Woman novel, The Story of a Modern Woman (1894), but there is occasionally some confusion about the spelling of Ella’s older sister’s name. Although born on the 17th of March 1856, her birth was only registered on the 26th of April and her name is given as “Marian,” but on her death certificate she is called “Marian, otherwise Florence Marian Hepworth, otherwise Marion Hepworth,” and in her will she calls herself “Marion.” Some have speculated that she preferred to sign herself as “Marion” for publishing reasons, because the masculine spelling of her name hid her gender. A more straightforward explanation might be that she was simply distinguishing herself from her mother who was also called Marian, although her name was usually spelt Mary Ann or Mary Anne.

Like her more famous sister, Marion Hepworth Dixon began life as an artist and studied in Paris at the famous Académie Julian at the same time as Marie Bashkiertseff, the celebrated Russian artist who died of tuberculosis before she could develop her full artistic potential, but who is better known today for her intimate Journal which was published after her death. In fact, the first article signed by Marion that I have so far found is entitled “Marie Bashkirtseff: A Personal Reminiscence” published in the Fortnightly Review in February, 1890. Both sisters contributed to exhibitions in London, but owing to the sudden death of their father in 1879 which left the family in dire financial straits, their artistic careers had to be abandoned. Again like Ella, Marion took to writing to earn her living. Both sisters are mentioned in the Lady’s Pictorial series on “Lady Journalists” which appeared from November 1893 to February 1894. However, the fact that the older sister is mentioned second and with a smaller, less well-placed photograph would imply that Marion remained less well-known than her sibling. From correspondence with the publisher Chatto and Windus, it would appear that Marion acted as an agent for a short time for Ella. Ella dedicated The Story of a Modern Woman to “My Sister Marian” and, when discussing the novel’s success in her memoirs, Ella mentions being invited out a great deal with her sister.

Marion wrote several short stories, including two for The Yellow Book : “A Thief in the Night” — described as “gruesome in the extreme” by the critic in the Lady’s Pictorial — in Volume IV and “The Runaway” in Volume XIII. In each case the protagonist in the title turns out, unexpectedly, to be a woman. Marion also contributed at least one short story, “A Desperate Remedy” (again about a female protagonist behaving somewhat unusually) and several book reviews to her sister’s magazine The Englishwoman. The majority of her output, however, dealt with art and artists, as her regular articles in, for example, the Magazine of Art and The Studio would testify. The Lady’s Pictorial describes her as “one of our most successful and sympathetic art critics.”

© 2010, Valerie Fehlbaum

Valerie Fehlbaum is a lecturer in the Department of English at the University of Geneva, Switzerland. She is the author of Ella Hepworth Dixon: The Story of a Modern Woman (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2005), as well as articles on subjects including Marion Dixon, Ella Hepworth Dixon, Oscar Wilde, and the New Woman.

Selected Publications by Hepworth Dixon

  • “The Art of David Murray, R.A.” Lady’s Realm (July 1905): 273-280.
  • “The Art of John Da Costa.” Lady’s Realm (August 1905): 437-444.
  • “The Art of Henry Woods, R.A.” Lady’s Realm (January 1906): 351-361.
  • “The Art of Mortimer Menpes.” Lady’s Realm Christmas Number (December 1900): 205-214.
  • “The Art of Mrs Stanhope Forbes.” Lady’s Realm (March 1905): 468-476.
  • “Arthur Hacker, A.R.A.” Lady’s Realm (September, 1902): 613-619.
  • “Charles Chaplin.” Magazine of Art 14 (1891): 408-415.
  • “A Desperate Remedy: A Dialogue.” The Englishwoman (May 1895):198-202.
  • “The Disenchantment of Dever Deming.” The Christmas Number of The World (November 16, 1899):52-54.
  • “The Drawings of Kay Nielsen.” Studio 60 (November 15, 1913):116-125 and International Studio 51 (December 1913):116-125. From 1897 Studio was republished as International Studio in New York with volume one corresponding to volume ten of the original.)
  • “Edward Stott: An Appreciation.” Studio 55 (February 15, 1912): 3-9 and International Studio 46 (March 1912): 3-9.
  • “Fair Children” Magazine of Art 18 (1895): 330-332.
  • “George Boughton, R.A.” Lady’s Realm (February 1902): 445-452.
  • “Herbert Schmalz and his work.” Lady’s Realm (February 1904): 431-438.
  • “James Paterson R.S.A., R.W.S.” Studio 51 (December 15, 1910): 190-202 and International Studio 42 (January, 1911):190-202.
  • “Jean Baptiste Greuze.” Lady’s Realm (January 1903): 335-341.
  • “John H. Bacon, A.R.A.” Lady’s Realm (November 1903): 25-32.
  • “Joseph Farquharson, A.R.A.” Lady’s Realm (August 1902): 435-442.
  • “Lady Alma-Tadema’s Pictures.” Studio 50 (June 15, 1910): 54-58 and International Studio 41 (July 1910): 54-58.
  • “The Landscape Paintings of Mr H. Hughes Stanton.” Studio 42 (January 15, 1908): 269-278 and I nternational Studio 34 (February1908): 269-278.
  • “Let the Best Man Win.” English Illustrated Magazine (February 1895): 47-52.
  • “Marie Bashkirtseff: A Personal Reminiscence.” Fortnightly Review 47 (February, 1890): 276-282.
  • “The Miniatures of Vicountess Maitland.” Lady’s Realm (July 1903): 317-332.
  • “Miss Lucy Kemp-Welch.” Lady’s Realm (March 1903): 575-582.
  • “Mr John S. Sargent as a Portrait-Painter.” Magazine of Art 23 (1899): 112-119.
  • “Mr Walter Hunt: Animal Painter.” Magazine of Art 25 (1901): 433-438.
  • “Mrs Louise Jopling.” Lady’s Realm (April 1904): 702-709.
  • “Onslow Ford, A.R.A.” Magazine of Art 15 (1892): 325-330.
  • “Onslow Ford, R.A.” The Art Journal 60 (1895): 294-297.
  • “Onslow Ford, R.A.” Lady’s Realm (September 1899): 557-562.
  • “Onslow Ford, R.A.: An Imaginative Sculptor.” Architectural Review: For the Artist and Craftsman 8 (1900): 257-263.
  • “Our Rising Artists: Eleanor Fortescue-Brickdale.” Magazine of Art 26 (1902): 256-262.
  • “Our Rising Artists: John H. Bacon.” Magazine of Art 26 (1902):193-198.
  • “Our Rising Artists: Miss Lucy E. Kemp-Welch.” Magazine of Art 23 (1899): 481-487.
  • “Our Rising Artists: Talbot Hughes.” Magazine of Art 26 (1902): 1-6.
  • “A Painter of Modern Life” (Frank Dicksee) Lady’s Realm (March 1905): 565-572.
  • “A Painter of the Summer. Mr H.S. Tuke, A.R.A.” Lady’s Realm (September 1905): 584- 594.
  • “The Paintings of Philip Connard.” Studio 57 (January 15, 1913): 269-280 and International Studio 48 (February 1913): 269-280.
  • “A Reminiscence of Henrietta Montalba.” The Art Journal (July 7, 1894): 215-217.
  • “The Runaway.” The Yellow Book XIII (April1897): 110-120.
  • “Solomon J. Solomon, A.R.A.” Lady’s Realm (October 1903): 657-666.
  • “Stanhope A. Forbes, A.R.A.” Magazine of Art 15 (1892):181-188.
  • “A Supper for Two: A Dialogue.” Christmas Number of The World (November 17 1898): 57-59.
  • “A Thief in the Night.” The Yellow Book IV (January 1895): 239-246.
  • “Thomas Faed, R.A.” Magazine of Art 16 (1893): 268-275.
  • “Under the Lamp” – book reviews. The Englishwoman (March-August? 1895).
  • “Visiting Cards a Hundred Years Ago.” Connoisseur 23 (January-April 1909):192-200.

Selected Publications about Hepworth Dixon

  • Fehlbaum, Valerie. Ella Hepworth Dixon: the story of a modern woman . Aldershot: Ashgate, 2005.
  • —.“Sisters in Life, Sisters in Art: Ella and Marion Hepworth Dixon.” Michael Field and Their World. Ed. Margaret D. Stetz and Cheryl A. Wilson. High Wycombe: Rivendale Press, 2007.

MLA citation:

Fehlbaum, Valerie. “Marion Hepworth Dixon (1856-1936),” Y90s Biographies, edited by Dennis Denisoff, 2010. Yellow Nineties 2.0, General Editor Lorraine Janzen Kooistra, Ryerson University Centre for Digital Humanties, 2019, https://1890s.ca/dixonM_bio/.