Queer Places:
Villa Croce, Via Cesina, 2, 80076 Capri NA
Cimitero acattolico (Protestant Cemetery), Via Marina Grande, 80076 Capri NA

Henry Wreford (1806 - March 26, 1892) was a journalist. Born in Bristol, he was sent to Italy, when a young man, for sake of his health; he remained there for rest of his life and died in Capri.

For more than fifty years, from Rome and from Naples, Wreford was correspondent for the Times, a connection in which he took much pride. Also correspondent for IIlus. London News and for Daily News. His detailed and vivid Daily News articles written during time of Italy's struggle for freedom and unity were praised by Jessie White Mario; Wreford was, according to her, the correspondent who kept England up anent the rights and wrongs of Italy. He met the Marios in 1860 and was presented by them to Garibaldi as Italy's best English friend in Naples.

Wreford contributed to Athenaeum, occasionally to Macmillan's. He was the author of Rome, Pagan and Papal; by an English Resident in That City, 1846.

Wreford and Dickens were not acquainted, but Dickens was aware that Wreford was a Household Words contributor. Relating to his wife in 1853 the gossip that he had heard in Naples, Dickens mentioned that one Mr. Wreford who has written some Italian papers in Household Words was living on the island of Capri and that idle young Englishmen of Naples were accustomed to going there to see him and the Capri girls. Household Words introduced Wreford's first contribution with the statement that the writer was a resident in Naples who could furnish authentic information on conditions there.

The Office Book assigns the article to Wreford alone, but contains the notation Cut down from three times the quantity by W.H.W. Only one of the items assigned to Wreford is listed as revised by Morley, but Morley's letters indicate that he revised also others. One letter refers to material of value- sent in by the contributor from Naples, which had to be recast before it was suitable for the journal; another mentions a mass of material from Naples in a most unreadable hand, on which Morley was required to report. Morley's reference to his having a bothering Christmas paper from Naples to dress up for the 1851 Christmas number is not clear; no paper by Wreford and no paper on Italy appeared in the 1851 Christmas number. Two items of 1853 - Quails and A Locust Hunt - which are not assigned to Wreford, seem clearly to be by him. For Quails the Office Book gives only the partial authorship ascription & Morley; for A Locust Hunt it gives no ascription. The fact that Morley is recorded as reviser of Quails is one indication that the item is probably by Wreford; revising Wreford's contributions, as stated above, was one of Morley's assignments. Both articles deal with Capri - the first, with netting and shooting quail on the island; the second, with the destruction of locusts there. The two articles are obviously by one writer, as indicated by the parallel phraseology in which he states his being asked to be a spectator of these activities and his acceptance of the invitation. In the first article he writes: Will you come and see . the quail-netting? Of course I would; in the second: Would I go out and see the locusts? Certainly I would. The invitation to see the locusts is brought to the writer while I was quietly at work at Capri ... in my study. Wreford, as indicated by the articles assigned to him, made frequent excursions and visits to Capri from Naples. One article mentions his ascending the heights of the Island of Capri; others, his talking with fishermen on the island, his attending there a rustic festival and a wedding. Dickens was told in 1853 that Wreford was living on the island. Quails and A Locust Hunt show the writer's friendly association with Italian villagers and his interest in their beliefs, customs, and activities; Wreford, as indicated by the articles assigned to him, had the same association and interests. Payment for two of Wreford's contributions was sent to Stuckey's Banking Co., Bristol. Payment for six was sent to Dr. Wreford. The Dr. Wreford resident in Wreford's native town of Bristol was John Reynell Wreford, D.D., F.S.A., dissenting minister, presumably Wreford's father.

In 1866 Wreford described the female artists in Rome collectively as “a fair constellation . . . of twelve stars of greater or lesser magnitude, who shed their soft and humanising influence on a profession which has done so much for the refinement and civilization of man.” Some of Wreford’s twelve stars, incidentally all American sculptors, are still recognizable names even today: Margaret Foley, Florence Freeman, Harriet Hosmer, Edmonia Lewis, and Emma Stebbins. Less known now are the American painter sisters Mary Elizabeth Williams and Abigail Osgood Williams, the Italian sculptor Horatia Augusta Latilla Freeman and her relative, the painter Adah Caroline Latilla, Irish painter and sculptor Jane Morgan, and English sculptor Isabel Cholmelay (her studio was at Palazzetto Sciarra). It is not entirely clear which of these women produced art of “greater magnitude” in Wreford’s mind; his discussion is rather general overall. Indeed, in his article and in others of the period, even the better-known women tend to earn more comments about their personalities, appearances, or behaviors than about their art.

Henry Wreford, doyen of the English colony, died in 1892 at the age of 86 and received the honour of a public funeral. On his gravestone in the cimitero acattolico was inscribed what he had most valued: For fifty years a resident of Capri. During his long stay he had acquired many friends and substantial amounts of property. He deeded one of his houses to Arcangelo Trama, in gratitude for the friendship of Arcangelo’s young son, Giovanni. Wreford died in his home, at the Villa Croce and bequeathed this and his other house, Villa Cesina, which lay on the north-east slope of Monte San Michele, to Brigida Scoppa, a cousin of owner of the Caffè al Vermuth di Torino, Antonio. Wreford’s many services to the island were commemorated in 1908 in a tablet which adorns the courtyard of the municipio. In 1894 Brigida Scoppa rented the house to the Misses Calvert. Later, in the back of the garden, it was built the Albergo Villa Sarah.


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