Anna Brassey

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Anna Brassey
Anna Brassey[1]
Born Anna Allnutt
7 October 1839
Died 14 September 1887(1887-09-14) (aged 47)
Nationality British
Known for Travel writing
Title Baroness Brassey
Spouse(s) Thomas Brassey
Children five
Parent(s) John Allnutt

Anna "Annie" Brassey (née Allnutt), Baroness Brassey (7 October 1839 – 14 September 1887)[2] was an English traveller and writer. Her bestselling book A Voyage in the Sunbeam, our Home on the Ocean for Eleven Months was published in 1878.[3]


The daughter of John Allnutt, she married the English Member of Parliament Thomas Brassey (knighted in 1881 and became Earl Brassey in 1886), with whom she lived near his Hastings constituency. The couple had five children together before they travelled aboard their luxury yacht Sunbeam. The yacht was said to have been named after their daughter - Constance Alberta - who was nicknamed Sunbeam; she died of scarlet fever aged four, on 24 January 1873. The golden figurehead of the yacht depicting her is at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London, UK.[4]

A Voyage in the Sunbeam, describing their journey round the world in 1876-77 with a complement of 43, including family, friends and crew,[5] ran through many English editions and was translated into at least five other languages. Her accounts of later voyages include Sunshine and Storm in the East (1880);[6] In the Trades, the Tropics, and the Roaring Forties (1885); and The Last Voyage (1889, published posthumously). She had published privately earlier works including A Flight of the Meteor, detailing two cruises in the Mediterranean on their earlier yacht Meteor and A Voyage in the Eothen a description of their travels to Canada and the United States in 1872. She was also involved with the publication of Colonel Henry Stuart-Wortley's 1882 Tahiti, a Series of Photographs.[7]

In July 1881 King Kalākaua of Hawaii, who had been greatly pleased with her description of his kingdom, was entertained at Normanhurst Castle, and invested Lady Brassey with the Royal Order of Kapiolani.[8]

At home in England, she performed charitable work, largely for the St. John Ambulance Association.

Her collection of ethnographic and natural history material were shown in a museum at her husband's London house until they were moved to Hastings Museum in 1919.[9] There are also several photograph albums and other ephemera held at Hasting Library. However, the vast majority of her photograph albums are now housed in the Huntington Library, San Marino, California. The collection of 70 albums, each containing 72 to 80 thick board pages, is said to be a preeminent example of the historic travel albums. These albums contain works by Brassey and others she collected, including those of commercial photographers.[10]

Lady Brassey's last voyage on the Sunbeam was to India and Australia, undertaken in November 1886 to improve her health. On the way to Mauritius, she died of malaria on 14 September 1887, and was buried at sea.[1][11][12]


  1. 1.0 1.1 'Lady Anna Brassey', National Portrait Gallery. Retrieved 22 February 2008.
  2.  Marshall, Edward Henry (1901). "Brassey, Anna". In Sidney Lee. Dictionary of National Biography, 1901 supplement​. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 
  3. Brassey, Annie. "A Voyage in the 'Sunbeam': Our Home on the Ocean for Eleven Months (1879)". Retrieved 4 February 2013. 
  4. "Sunbeam [Constance Alberta Brassey]". Retrieved 22 July 2013. 
  5. Lives of Girls who became famous, Sarah Knowles Bolton, accessed April 2009
  6. Brassey, Annie. "Sunshine and Storm in the East, Or, Cruises to Cyprus and Constantinople (1880)". Retrieved 4 February 2013. 
  7. "Death of Lady Brassey". Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser. 13 October 1887. p. 5. 
  8. Girls Famous
  9. 'The Brassey Collection', Hastings Museum, accessed June 2009.
  10. Micklewright, Nancy. A Victorian Traveller in the Middle East. Hants, England: Ashgate. p. 60. 
  11. Lives of Girls who became famous, Sarah Knowles Bolton, accessed June 2009.
  12. The Last Voyage (London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1889).
  13. Illustrations from A Voyage in the 'Sunbeam', by Annie Allnut Brassey



  • The Flight of the "Meteor", 1869-71 (Mann, Nephews) 1872
  • A Cruise in the "Eothen", 1872 (Printed for private circulation, F. Platts) 1873
  • A Voyage in the 'Sunbeam', our home on the ocean for eleven months (Longmans, Green) 1878 [in US: Around the World in the Yacht 'Sunbeam', our home on the ocean for eleven months (Henry Holt) 1878]
  • Sunshine and Storm in the East, or Cruises to Cyprus and Constantinople (Longmans, Green) 1880
  • In the Trades, the Tropics, & the Roaring Forties (Longmans, Green) 1885
  • The Last Voyage, to India and Australia, in the 'Sunbeam' (Longmans, Green) 1889
  • Tahiti, a series of photographs taken by Colonel Stuart-Wartley, with letterpress by Lady Brassey (Sampson Low, Marston, Searle, & Rivington) 1882
  • St. John Ambulance Association: its Work and Objects (supplement to the 'Club and Institute Journal') 23rd Oct. 1885

External links