Queer Places:
2 Litfield Place, Bristol BS8 3LS, UK
St. Paul, Clifton, St Paul's Rd, Bristol BS8 1LP, UK

Sarah Frances “Fanny” Alleyne (October 15, 1836 - August 16, 1884) was a friend of the Symonds family, and advocate of women’s higher education. Margaret Symonds recalled her as “a poet,1 a philosopher, and a woman of rare humanity and intelligence, [who] passed almost unknown to her generation, leaving but a few poems and many friends behind her”.2

Alleyne was born in Barbados, where her family’s wealth was built on sugar and cotton, farmed by enslaved people.  The process of abolition was underway at the time of her birth, and compensation records show that her father, Charles Thomas Alleyne, applied to be compensated for 845 freed slaves on his estates.4 The family’s earnings allowed them a fashionable address in Clifton; Sarah grew up at 2 Litfield place, close to the rocks and gullies where John Addington Symonds played as a child.


2 Litfield place

As an adult, Alleyne was active in the Clifton Association for the Higher Education of Women, for whom Symonds was a prominent lecturer. When Catherine Winkworth became secretary,  Alleyne was soon appointed her co-secretary,5 and 2 Litfield place was co-opted as the venue for Italian classes (Symonds himself taught at St Paul’s hall, Clifton.) Alleyne continued to support the activities of the Association and its successor University College, administrating scholarships and local exams to promote women’s access to Oxford and Cambridge.

Beyond her educational connections, Alleyne was close to the Symonds family, and seems to have been on hand when difficulty descended: In 1874, Charlotte Symonds fell ill with Scarlet Fever in her parents’ absence, and Alleyne brought the family’s other daughters into her home to protect them from exposure;6  later, when Symonds’ own health suffered a crisis, Alleyne joined the family on the long expedition to Switzerland.

In the years following Symonds’ departure from Bristol, Alleyne produced English translations of much of Eduard Zeller’s writing on Greek philosophy – a task which Symonds himself had attempted but found “intolerably irksome”.8   In 1884, Symonds received news of Alleyne’s death.

Alleyne was buried at St Pauls, Clifton, on the 21st of August 1884. Katherine Symonds was named as God-daughter in her will.


  1. http://www.symondsinbristol.co.uk/?p=557