Collezione Horner

The three volumes in this collection consist of a volume of notes made by Mrs. Power on an extended stay in Italy in the 1820s and two diaries kept by her niece Susan Horner, completed while in Italy in 1847-48 and in 1861-62. This latter diary is lavishly illustrated with the author's own drawings and fine contemporary photographs. Susan Horner was a published author by the time of her second visit to Italy and the interest she and her father and sister had in Italian unification gave them access to prominent Florentine politicians and scholars.

Susan Horner's Florentine Diary 1861 - 1862

In 1873 Susan Horner and her sister Joanna published their guide, Walks in Florence. Susan’s unpublished diary for 1861-1862 shows the early love these sisters had for the city and the work they began to do, walking from monument to monument, that would lead to their guide. It tells the story of nine months spent in the city by a well-connected liberal intellectual family with a sincere and educated interest in the unification of Italy.

The British Institute would like to thank the Ente Cassa di Risparmio for their support of the Susan Horner Diary project


Susan Horner Collection
Reference code: HOR
Date(s) of creation: 1829-1867
Name of creator: Susan Horner
Extent: Three volumes, holograph illustrated poem.


Administrative information

Acquisition number: A5

Source of acquisition (donor, date, type of donation, provenance and custodial history):

No information is recorded on the donation. However, it is likely that the two volumes of Journals written by Susan Horner were given to the Library of the British Institute sometime between 1950 and 1964 by Susan Horner Zileri. Zileri was the second daughter of two companion servants to the Horner family and was adopted by Susan and Joanna Horner after the deaths of both her parents.
The third volume, the Journal kept by Anna William Power was the gift given to the Institute around 1970 by Harmony Celia Chapman, the great grand-daughter of Katharine Lyell (Susan Horner's sister) and the great great niece of Mrs. Power.
A further addition to the collection, a holograph illustrated poem, was made in 2010. This was given to the Archive by Teresa Sladen, great, great niece of Susan Horner.


Susan Horner (1816-1900) was a writer on Italian subjects. She was the daughter of  Leonard Horner (1785-1864), geologist and social reformer, and niece of Francis Horner (1778-1817), co-founder of the Edinburgh Review and politician. Among Susan Horner’s works are: A Century of Despotism in Naples and Sicily (Edinburgh 1860), The Tuscan Poet G. Giusti and his times (London 1864), Walks in Florence and its Environs (London 1873), written with her sister Joanna.
Susan was the third of the six daughters of Leonard Horner. The eldest, Mary (b.1809), was married to the geologist Charles Lyell. Frances (b.1814) was married to Charles James Fox Bunbury, Katharine (b.1817) to Charles Lyell’s younger brother Henry, Leonora (b.1818) to the German historian Georg Heinrich Pertz. Joanna (b.1823), like Susan, remained unmarried. All the sisters except Mary published in their lifetimes, either original works or translations from the German and the Italian.

Scope and content (inc. arrangement):

The collection consists of three journals kept while in Italy.
The first of these was written by Susan Horner’s aunt, a Mrs Power. The journal covers a period of time spent in Italy in the 1820s by A.W. Power (1789-1867), sister of Leonard Horner, with her husband Major Power. It is written after the time spent in the country and is a collection of recalled conversations and observations. From the text it appears the Powers spent three years in Italy with at least one year in Naples and a minimum of two months in Venice. They travelled a great deal: Mrs Power has first hand knowledge of Genoa, Siena, Florence and Rome as well as the area around Naples and Venice.

Of the two journals kept by Susan Horner, the first covers the years 1847 and 1848, and the second the years 1861 and 1862.
The first journal concentrates on recording visits to various sites in France and Italy, including Paris, Florence, Genoa, Pisa and Rome and the objects seen on those visits. Susan was travelling with her sister Frances and brother-in-law Charles (Sir Charles James Fox and Lady Bunbury; Sir Charles became High Sheriff of Suffolk in 1868, he married Frances Joanna Horner in 1844, he died in 1886 and his wife in 1894) and the journal is occasionally enlivened by accounts of visits with them to local soirées, or by incidents such as the shipwreck she is involved in off the Italian coast. There is also some mention of incidents she observes relating to the revolutions and wars of the time.
The period covered by the second journal was spent in Florence with her parents and sister, Joanna. The Horner sisters were well-connected  in intellectual and politically liberal circles and made the acquaintance of many of the prominent Florentines of the time, including  Filippo Parlatore of the Natural History Museum and his wife Eugenia, the historian and statesman Pasquale Villari, the Egyptologist Migliarini, the Marchesi Capponi, Feroni, Sauli and Carlo Torrigiani, and Baron Gaetano Ricasoli. Some of their introductions to these people came through their friend the scientist and astronomer Mary Somerville who was by then living in Italy. Others, like the Pulszkys in Turin, the Horners knew from London. Susan’s own work (she had published a translation of Pietro Colletta’s History of the Kingdom of Naples in 1858 and her own A Century of Despotism in Naples and Sicily in 1860) also served as an introduction.
Susan’s sister Joanna was a friend to the wife of the poet Arthur Hugh Clough (1819-1861) and the journal includes an account of the progress of Clough’s illness, his death, and his burial in the English Cemetery in Florence. The journal supplies much information on the English community, its habits and its relationship with the Italian community. It is also lavishly illustrated with Susan’s own sketches and very fine contemporary photographs.
In this period Susan and Joanna began an intimacy with Florence that was to lead to their Walks: treks across Florence, up hills, in galleries, to the lantern of the Duomo,  around churches and to tombs and curiosities. Susan drew and researched in the Uffizi, and collected prints and photographs. The sisters took lessons in Italian from Marianne Giarré whose stories of the struggle for unification convinced them of the glory of la bella libertà.
The illustrated poem demonstrates Susan Horner’s skill as an artist.

Terms of use:



Open to consultation with special permission. Susan Horner's second journal is very fragile and there is a transcript available.


The Library will assist where possible with identifying copyright owners, but responsibility for ensuring copyright clearance rests with the user of the material.


Photographic reproduction only.

Finding aids:

Susan herself provided an index for the first of these two journals and included this at the end of the volume.
A catalogue of the collection now exists.

Related material in the same repository:

The Archive holds the following published books: Walks in Florence and its Environs, in two volumes, by Susan and Joanna Horner (London 1884), AR914.551 HOR; The Tuscan Poet Giuseppe Giusti and his Times by Susan Horner (Macmillan & Co, 1864), AR850 GIU; A Century of Despotism in Naples and Sicily by Susan Horner (Edinburgh 1860), AR945.8 HOR. This latter is the copy presented by Susan Horner to her parents.
The Library also contains a complete run of the periodical English Miscellany. In Issue 3, 1952, there is a published transcription of the Diary of Mrs Power with notes by Vittorio Gabrieli.