Waterfield Collection

Covering aspects of both the nineteenth-century and twentieth-century is the Waterfield collection, given to the British Institute of Florence by the Beevor family in 2001. Lina Waterfield's aunt, Janet Ross, lived most of her adult life close to Florence. A formidable character, she was friend to Bernard and Mary Berenson and the collection holds her correspondence with Mary. A writer herself, Janet Ross produced a book on the lives of her mother, Lucie Duff-Gordon (resident in Egypt for the last years of her life), and her grandmother, Sarah Austin, and the Waterfield collection contains some of the correspondence of these women.


Restoration of the Janet Ross photograph album

Thanks to contributions made by Anne Chambers, John McEllhenney and Susan Fogarty we have been able to restore a photograph album that belonged to Janet Ross, now in the Waterfield Collection.

The album was restored by Maria Argiero. She found the album cover stained and the spine exposed. Inside the volume some photographs had been removed, leaving traces of glue that were affecting the page and other photographs, some had been loosened from their original position and some had tears at their edges.

All the photographs have been cleaned. Tears have been repaired using voile or Japanese paper and a non-invasive glue. All the photographs, whether found detached or detached for restoration, were returned to their original positions and secured with photo mounting corners and a pH neutral adhesive. Semi-transparent, acid-free glazed paper has been has been inserted between each leaf of the album. The album cover has been cleaned and repaired, and the cover to the spine replaced. A stiff paper case has been made in which to keep the album safe from dust.

We’d like to thank Maria Argiero for her splendid work, and the donors for their generosity. The photographs in this album are exceptional; they tell us about Janet Ross’s life at Poggio Gherardo (and her earlier home, Castagnolo), and about the next generation, present in her niece Lina Waterfield (both Janet and Lina were born Duff Gordon), and demonstrate accomplished photographic work on interiors and exteriors as well as more casual snaps 


Janet Ross's Leaves from our Tuscan Kitchen, or how to cook vegetables London, 1936 (first published in 1899) described. Thanks for this video go to Sara Caselli and Emilia Onesti of www.gastronomicalibrary.com, a website for cookbook enthusiasts. Follow them on Twitter, @gastrolibrary  




Lina Waterfield Collection
Reference code: WAT
Date(s) of creation: 1839- anni '90s
Name of creator: Gordon Waterfield e Kinta Beevor
Extent: 13 scatole di materiale manoscritto, 4 scatole di materiale fotografico, circa 1.5 metri di libri sullo scaffale. 


Administrative information

Acquisition number: B1

Source of acquisition

The collection was given to the Library of the British Institute by Nigel Beevor in October 2001, on behalf of his family. Nigel Beevor is the son of Carinthia (Kinta) Beevor who was the daughter of Lina Waterfield. At that date the Library received research material, letters, essays, photographs, unpublished manuscripts, a printed book and a painting. The material had been collected and used for publications by both Kinta Beevor and Gordon Waterfield. Further manuscript material, photographs and printed books were added to the Collection in October 2002.


Lina Waterfield was born Lina Duff Gordon in 1874 (d. 1964). On the death of her mother in 1889 she became the ward of her aunt, Janet Ross, née Duff Gordon. Janet Ross (1842-1927) lived at Poggio Gherardo, near Settignano, and was a well-known writer and figure in the Anglo-American community of Florence. Her own account of her life and her friendships can be found in her book, The Fourth Generation (London 1912). Janet Ross was the daughter of Lucie Duff Gordon (1821-1869), author of the magnificent Letters from Egypt (an edition of which was edited by her daughter, Janet). And she in turn was the daughter of Sarah and John Austin. Sarah Austin (1793-1867) was a gifted translator and highly industrious woman of letters.

Lina Waterfield was one of the founders of the British Institute in 1917, and she maintained an active interest in it the whole of her life. She and her husband Aubrey Waterfield (d. 1944), a painter, restored and lived in the Fortezza della Brunella at Aulla in the Lunigiana, and managed a school at Poggio Gherardo in the 1930s, only leaving Italy in 1940. Lina Waterfield was Italian correspondent for the newspaper, The Observer, from 1921 until 1939, and foreign correspondent for Kelmsley Press from 1946 to 1950. Her husband wrote for The Manchester Guardian in the 1920s.

Scope and content (inc. arrangement)

The material in this collection was conserved by Gordon Waterfield (1903-1987 eldest son of Lina Waterfield) for the purposes of his own research on Lucie Duff Gordon (he published a biography of his great-great-aunt in 1937) and on Janet Ross. The collection contains the unpublished manuscript of his biography of his great-aunt Janet Ross. The arrangement of the collection owes much to Gordon Waterfield's arrangement of the material and any subsequent re-ordering by the family, including Kinta Beevor who used some of the material for her book A Tuscan Childhood.

In addition to the unpublished biography of Janet Ross, the collection contains Gordon Waterfield's research files in which he typed-up and collated material from various primary sources, predominantly letters, relating to contemporary accounts of his great-aunt and her life. The collection holds photographs, some relating to Gordon Waterfield's biography of Lucie Duff-Gordon, and some to Janet Ross and the two properties of Poggio Gherardo and Aulla. There are three individual, short and unpublished memoirs: (1) Janet Ross by Madge Symonds Vaughan (1869-1925, author with Lina Waterfield of The Story of Perugia, London, 1898), and daughter of the art historian, literary biographer and poet John Addington Symonds, 1840-1893) (2) the Misses Berry (Mary Berry, 1763-1852, author, and her sister Agnes, 1764-1852, were much admired by Horace Walpole and held a salon frequented by Harriet Martineau, Joanna Baillie and others) by Caroline Duff Gordon (d. 1875, mother-in-law to Lucie Duff Gordon) (3) on the family, again by Caroline Duff Gordon and written for Urania Duff Gordon (1858-1877, younger sister of Janet Ross). The collection also contains some legal documents relating to the family (wills, birth and marriage certificates), and includes the receipt for the Luca Signorelli painting 'The School of Pan,' bought by Janet Ross and her husband in 1869. There is a relatively small amount of newspaper cuttings. The collection also contains material relating to the foundation and work of the British Institute.

The collection contains over 700 letters. These include letters from Sarah Austin and John Austin, one from Caroline Norton (1808-1877, author and political activist and friend of Lucie Duff Gordon), letters from Mary and Agnes Berry and letters from Lucie Duff Gordon, including three letter books her last letters from Egypt to her husband. The majority of the letters are from Janet Ross and Lina Waterfield to various correspondents. Janet Ross to Austin Henry Layard (1817-1894, archaeologist and diplomat), to Bernard Berenson (1865-1959, art critic and connoisseur), to Mary Berenson (Mary Pearsall Smith, then Costelloe, then Berenson, writer, 1864-1945), to Madge Symonds Vaughan, to Lina Waterfield and others. Lina Waterfield to Janet Ross, to Mary Berenson, to Madge Symonds Vaughan, to her children (including some very interesting material on her 'escape' from Italy during World War II), to Janet Trevelyan (Janet Penrose Ward, 1879-1976, author) and her husband George Macaulay Trevelyan (1876-1962, historian). Among other letters are individual letters from George Meredith (1828-1909, author), Leslie Stephen (1832-1904, critic and scholar),Walter Crane (1845-1915, illustrator), Henry Tonks (1862-1937, trained as a doctor and anatomist but abandoned his medical career for a career as a professor of art at the Slade School, University College, London), John Buchan (1875-1940, author and diplomat), Isiah Berlin (1909-1997, philosopher) and others.


Janet Ross's Leaves from our Tuscan Kitchen, or how to cook vegetables London, 1936 (first published in 1899) described. Thanks for this video go to Sara Caselli and Emilia Onesti of www.gastronomicalibrary.com, a website for cookbook enthusiasts. Follow them on Twitter, @gastrolibrary 




The collection is open for consultation.


Copyright is held by Hugh, Antony and Nigel Beevor. Questions concerning copyright are to be referred to Nigel Beevor, c/o the British Institute of Florence.


This depends upon the condition of the material.

Finding aids

When the collection was deposited with the Library it came with a list compiled by Nigel Beevor. A Catalogue of the collection now exists.


Related material in the same repository

(1) Sarah Austin

C270.6 RAN

'The Ecclesiastical and Political History of the Popes of Rome during the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries' by Leopold von Ranke, translated by Sarah Austin (London 1840)


(2) Lucie Duff Gordon

C916.87 GOR

'Letters from the Cape' by Lady Duff Gordon, with an introduction by Mrs. Janet Ross (London 1927)

916.2 DUF

'Letters from Egypt' by Lucie Duff Gordon (London, 1997)

820.8 DUF

'Lucie Duff Gordon : in England, South Africa and Egypt' by Gordon Waterfield (London 1937)


(3) Janet Ross

C820.8 ROS

'Three Generations of English Women: memoirs and correspondence of Susannah Taylor, Sarah Austin, and Lady Duff Gordon' by Janet Ross (London 1893)

820.8 ROS

'The Fourth Generation: reminiscences' by Janet Ross (London 1912),

C641.5 ROS

'Leaves from our Tuscan Kitchen, or, How to Cook Vegetables' by Janet Ross (London 1903)


(4) Lina Waterfield

945.661 SYM

The Story of Perugia' by Margaret Symonds and Lina Duff Gordon (London 1898)

820.9 WA

'Castle in Italy: an autobiography' by Lina Waterfield (London 1962)


(5) Kinta Beevor

914.55 BEE

'A Tuscan Childhood' by Kinta Beevor (London 1993)


The following books were also given by the Beevor family and form part of the Waterfield Collection

(1) Lucie Duff Gordon

820.8 DUF

Letters from Egypt (London, 1865)

820.8 DUF

Letters from Egypt (London, 1866)

820.8 DUF

Letters from Egypt (London, 1902)

820.8 DUF

Stella and Vanessa (London, 1850), 2 vols.

(n.b. volumes attributed to Lucie Duff Gordon when she was in fact the translator of the novel by Armand François Léon de Wailly.)


(2) Janet Ross

C641.5 ROS

Leaves from our Tuscan Kitchen (London, 1936)

C820.8 ROS)

The Fourth Generation (London, 1912)

C914.5 ROS

Italian Sketches (London, 1887

C945.5 MED

Lives of the Early Medici (London, 1910)

C820.8 ROS

Three Generations of Englishwomen (London, 1888), 2 volume edition, copies of Volume 1

C820.8 ROS

Three Generations of English Women (London 1893)

C820.8 ROS

Early Days Recalled (London, 1891)


(3) Lina Waterfield


Concise and practical guide to Rome (London 1911), 3 copies


(4) Gordon Waterfield

C820.8 DUF

Lucie Duff Gordon (London, 1936). This is a proof copy. 1948),

C940.5481 WAT

Morning Will Come (London,

C820.8 BET

Sultans of Aden (London, 1968), 2 copies

C820.9 LOR

Professional Diplomat (London, 1973), 3 copies


Alexander, Francesca

Tuscan Songs (Cambridge, 1897), C782.42 ALE


The Pentamerone of Giambattista Basile, translated from the Italian of Benedetto Croce (London, 1932), 2 volumes, C850 BAS

Bergner, August

Das Ross vom Libanon (Leipzig, 1819)

Castellano, Giuseppe

Come firmai l'armistizio di Cassibile (1945), C945.5481 CAS

Chamberlain, Samuel

Italian Bouquet : an epicurean tour of Italy (New York, 1958), C914.5 CHA

Della Croce, G.C.

Le astuzie sottilissime di Bertoldo e Bertoldino (Milano, n.d.), C850 DEL

ed. Fales/Hickey

Austen Henry Layard tra l'oriente e Venezia (Roma, 1987), C820.8 LAY

Formillli, C.T.G.

The Castles of Italy (London, 1933), C728.8 FOR

Furse, Katharine

Hearts and Pomegranates (London, 1949), C820.9 FUR

Lampedusa, G.T. di

Il Gattopardo (Milan, 1959), C850 LAM

Layard, A.H.

Kugler's Italian Schools of Painting (London, 1900), C759.5 LAY

Lee, Vernon

The Tower of the Mirrors (London, 1914), C820.8 LEE

Lee, Vernon

The Enchanted Woods (London, 1910), C820.8 LEE

Lee, Vernon

The Golden Keys (London, 1925), C820.8 LEE

Lee, Vernon

Genius Loci (London, 1908), C820.8 LEE

Lee, Vernon

The Sentimental Traveller (London, 1908), C820.8 LEE

Lett, Gordon

Rossano (London, 1955), C940.548645 LET

Lett, Gordon

The Many-Headed Monster (London, 1957), C820.9 LET

Levi, Carlo

Cristo si è fermato a Eboli (Torino, 1946), C850 LEV

Lucas, Matilda

Two Englishwomen in Rome, 1871-1900 (London 1938), C945.632 LUC

Marchi, Cesare

Grandi peccatori, grandi cattedrali (Milano, 1990) C726.5 MAR

Scaife, C.H.O.

Tones and Overtures, selected poems (London, 1976), C820.9 SCA

Smith, Logan Pearsall

Reperusals and Recollections (London, 1936), C820.9 SMI

Symonds, Margaret

Out of the Past (London, 1925), C820.8 SYM

Symonds, Margaret

Days on a Doge's Farm (London, 1893), C914.5 SYM

Trevelyan, Janet

A Short History of the Italian People (New York, 1920), C945 TRE